Jathan Sadowski's research while affiliated with University of Vic and other places

Publications (19)

Article
This article advances a qualitative scenario methodology involving comic-strip representations of digital technology and energy industry imaginaries in everyday life situations to reveal and ultimately disrupt their embedded narratives and assumptions. Six comic-strip scenarios were developed from a qualitative content analysis of 64 industry repor...
Article
How do the idealised promises and purposes of urban informatics compare to the material politics and practices of their implementation? To answer this question, I ethnographically trace the development of two data dashboards by strategic planners in an Australian city over the course of 2 years. By studying this techno-political process from its or...
Article
The emergence of autonomous vehicles is attracting intense scrutiny for the transformative effects it may have on urban infrastructures and planning systems. Much of this scrutiny, though, has arguably focused on driverless passenger cars designed to operate on conventional carriageways. In this paper, we argue the car-centric vision of autonomous...
Article
Smart home futures predicted and promoted in the discourses and practices of industry increasingly figure forms of automated decision making (ADM) into existing narratives of technological solutionism. This article interrogates how these narratives are constituted, the futures they imagine, predict and promote, and how people and households are pre...
Article
The home is an ever-changing assemblage of technologies that shapes the organisation and division of housework and supports certain models of what that work entails, who does it and for what purposes. This paper analyses core tensions arising through the ways smart homes are embedding logics of digital capitalism into home life and labour. As a cri...
Article
Recent geographical attention to smart places has underlined the key point that smart places are made: crafted incrementally over time and woven through existing sites and contexts. Work on analysing the crafting of ‘actually existing’ smart cities has turned to describing and characterising the processes through which smart cities are made and, wi...
Article
Addressing the problems caused by AI applications in society with ethics frameworks is futile until we confront the political structure of such applications.
Article
Despite longstanding critiques, the dominant method of governing technology remains based on processes that abstract away the complexity of human and social factors. They frame political decision-making in terms of risk assessment and cost-benefit analyses. This articles argues that the well-known issues arising from a technocratic method of govern...
Article
In this paper, we explicate how smart energy infrastructures embed and enact politics. By advancing the framework of technopolitics, and building on two in-depth case studies of the US and Australia, this paper analyzes the emergence and effects of the smart energy sector. With the aim of economizing electricity, the “modernization” of the energy s...
Article
The ‘actually existing’ smart city is not a monolith. It is not directed by a universal logic, nor does it develop in a standardised way. As recent research has argued, the spatial, material, and political contexts of cities have major influence over what smart urbanism looks like in practice. This paper adds analytical depth to, and broadens the g...
Article
Smart urbanism has, over the last decade or so, grown to become a major research area within the social science of cities and digital technology. This critical commentary aims to outline a new framework for analysing the urban political economic dynamics currently unfolding through different combinations of power, technology and capital in cities....
Article
Digital platforms are a nearly ubiquitous form of intermediary and infrastructure in society. By positioning platforms in the geographical political economy/ecology literature, this paper provides a critical analysis of platforms as a dominant form of rentier in contemporary capitalism. In doing so, I extend this work on rent theory beyond applicat...
Article
The smart home technology industry promises energy savings and lifestyle improvements. However, there is little evidence that smart home technologies will reduce home energy use overall, and there are a range of emerging detrimental social impacts that require further attention from researchers, policymakers and practitioners.
Article
Technological modes of urbanism continue to transform and expand with new technologies, new actors, and new developments that are ripe for critical geographical analysis. This series of interventions focuses on capturing and understanding a still evolving movement called platform urbanism, which is centered around the growing presence and power of...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Smart Publics project focused on the introduction and usage of smart kiosks and benches. The project explored public perceptions of the BT InLink kiosks and the Strawberry Energy smart benches, and identified emerging issues for the design and governance of these. The small-scale one year project was carried out by an interdisciplinary research...
Article
Some of the largest tech companies in the world, not to mention a stream of smaller startups, are now our roommates. Homes have become the target for smart devices and digital platforms that aim to upgrade old appliances, like refrigerators, and provide new capabilities, like virtual assistants. While smart devices have been variously championed an...

Citations

... It is embedded in the local conditions: the socially produced space [27]. A UDP (including retail) must, thus, also go beyond a simple dashboard that gives the appearance of being able to digitally map 'the city' in a few key figures(C-DIG concerning "dashboard") [108,109]. The interviews showed that a diversity or coupling of functions is seen as an elementary component of a future platform. ...
... While research in engineering has provided the foundation for the technological development of urban robots, only a few studies focus on their human-centred design, including the design of the interfaces and interactions between humans and urban robots (Weiss et al., 2015). Urban studies perspectives mainly investigate discrete applications (e.g. the driverless car) and their impact on cities at large (Macrorie et al., 2019;Jones et al., 2021), rather than considering the hyperlocal and social impacts of robots on urban environments. Nagenborg (2018) argues that we should design urban robots for "cityness", which Sassen (2005) defines as the intersectional differences that, when happening, lead to more prosperous forms of urbanity. ...
... One or two researchers (from a team of five) undertook the ethnography with specific households. The first visit involved an informal interview, discussion about the household's electricity load profile and discussion about industry visions for the future (which were synthesised and visually depicted into accessible comic-strips during the previous stage of research ;Dahlgren et al. 2020;Strengers et al. 2021Strengers et al. , 2022. In between visits (approximately three to six weeks apart), households were invited to video record their routines, 507 Strengers et al. ...
... In this chapter, we explore how the automated decision-making (ADM) carried out by voice assistants uses emotions as the basis for that decision-making and show how those decisions are tied up in services that are intended to automate diferent forms of care that resemble 'women's intuition', or the feminised labours historically associated with high levels of emotional intelligence and gender (Hochschild, 2012;Sadowski et al., 2021;Strengers and Kennedy, 2020). We focus on Alexa and its associated 'Echo' devices, as the world's most widely used digital voice assistant run by the largest e-commerce company in the world: Amazon. ...
... At the same time, the position of VFC within an interaction (as opposed to at the threshold of use) means that skills can increase the likelihood of users consenting through loss aversion [4], as refusal to grant consent will most likely result in the end of the interaction. Given this 'take it or leave it' Hobson's choice after the investment of time and effort, the default response from many users is to grant consent to prevent having to repeat the interaction with a different skill, threatening the freely given nature of informed consent [15]. This is further complicated by the use of specially crafted consent dialogues on the web that are designed to steer users towards granting consent [9], with Amazon and skill designers facing a similar conflict of interest for VFC. ...
... This article draws on qualitative data collected as part of a research project 7 which examined and compared InLinkUK kiosks in Glasgow and Strawberry Energy benches in London in situ at the street level and within local governance contexts (Wessels et al., 2020). We conducted 75 street vox pop interviews, also known as "person-on-thestreet interviews" (Beckers, 2019) with passers-by and users. ...
... Studies on smart cities suggest that building organizational and managerial capacities are decisive to meet these challenges and enable smart city transformation (Khan et al., 2020;Nam & Pardo, 2011b, 2014Santinha & de Castro, 2010). Indeed, cities are engaging in capacitybuilding and are initiating projects to improve city governments' capability to deliver policy, fight climate change with ICT solutions, boost the cities' entrepreneurial culture, and to increase professionals' and citizens' knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors in the effective use of digital devices (Dowling et al., 2021;. These efforts are critical, since a lack of organizational and managerial capabilities is often a barrier to public sector modernization projects and causes them to fail (Gil-Garcia & Pardo, 2005;Schedler et al., 2019;Wilson & Mergel, 2022). ...
... This highlights the need for meaningful consultation with voices that are often underrepresented. The powerful nature of AI systems, left unchecked, can threaten societal values and constitutional rights, including autonomy, privacy [17], and democracy, giving rise to power imbalances when deployed at scale [18,19]. For example, facial recognition systems can be used to target surveillance of ethnic minorities [20,21]. ...
... We thus define ideology not only or primarily as a political ideology, let alone "false consciousness", but instead as a scheme of interpretation of reality that relates to means-ends relationships and strategies (Söderbaum 1999;2013, 223). Ideological trust concerns "wider abstract systems and ideas" (Tait 2011, 160), such as technocracy, technological optimism, economic growth, the precautionary principle, centralised or decentralised solutions, nuclear power as an electricity-generating option, and the legitimate role of government in intervening in the economy (Tait 2011, 160;Luhmann 1979;Söderbaum 1999;Sadowski 2020). Ideological trust corresponds to the "systems" element of political trust, that is, "citizens' orientations towards the nationstate, its agencies, and actors" (Norris 2017, 21-22; see also Zmerli 2014). ...
... Nonetheless, although more integrated and holistic strategic planning processes seem to be a tool for facing disaster management such as the COVID-19 pandemic, up to now research has demonstrated that the way smart cities are facing societal challenges with the use of ICTs is being different [26] and disaster agencies seldom take up a broader and more proactive process of strategic planning for recovery [29]. Indeed, smart city projects are usually envisioned as a collection of individual "smart" projects but there is not a single coherent vision of the smart city [23,91]. In this regard, recent research has found that smallest size-population smart cities with conservative governments and a long-term political stability are those with a higher level of formal strategic plans undertaking smart projects [90]. ...