I’m starting work on a project about Artificial Intelligence and the Smart City, and how different people and communities in Leicester understand and respond to the idea of the Smart City as a social good. Smart cities have the potential to address social problems, such as inequality, deprivation and isolation by, e.g., improving productivity and connectivity. But they can also exacerbate a digital divide that alienates people in a society because of low levels of trust. Leicester is an ideal city to ask questions about AI and the potential for the Smart City principles, given that Leicester has considerable economic and social challenges, and the City Council has been active in using the smart city ideal.
The project is funded by the Alan Turing Institute, and is led by Professor Edward Cartwright of De Montfort University, with support from colleagues Dr Swati Virmani and Dr Ruben Martinez-Cardenas. My role in the project is to use community media and reporting techniques to create and share stories and discussion about AI and the Smart City principles from people who don’t normally get to input into policy debate and discussion.
I’m hoping to get started by having some conversations about AI and the Smart City Principles, which can be shared as podcasts. If anyone is interested in joining me for either an online chat, or a coffee to discuss the background to how AI is understood from the point of view of the Smart City, what the challenges are, and what the potential is for a digitally enabled civic and community realm, do get in contact. My take on this project is how do we understand and apply the benefits of AI to a city as diverse and varied as Leicester, while ensuring that there is consent for the systems and platforms that people are being asked to use – sometimes without even knowing that they are there?
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