Sheffield Robotics & the Urban Institute research seminar.
Tuesday 8 November 2016, 2pm.
University of Sheffield, Jessop West, Room 8.

Simon Marvin, Aidan While & Rachel Macrorie.

Innovation in automated systems and digital technologies creates challenges and opportunities for cities. Frontiers of automated urbanism are expanding through developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, sensors, autonomous vehicles, and investment in urban control centres, to increasingly shape everyday life. There is high expectation that Urban Automation (UA) will address a raft of contemporary social, environmental, and economic challenges, and this confidence is supported by global political decisions and substantial financial investment. However whilst UA holds much promissory value for using infrastructures more efficiently, supporting urban living, and responding to ecological turbulence and resource constraint, it also raises issues about identity, trust, control, and automated segregation. Research on UA has to date largely focused upon technological optimisation, deployment and use, and upon harnessing insights from ‘big data’. Societal considerations of UA have predominantly related to legal, public acceptability, safety, data security, and ethical concerns. At the same time, there have been limited attempts to systematically investigate UA as a socio-technical domain in its own right. Here we propose a distinctive analytical framework that focuses on the urban context as a site of eco-systemic experimentation in UA. We examine the emerging logics of UA as defined by axes of: networked infrastructures to individualised service provision, and centralised control-room configuration to localised operational control. On the basis of this typology, we present the Urban Institute’s UA research agenda, which examines how automated urbanism is redefining and restructuring the city.

Refreshments will be available following the talk