Introduction

Our representatives, administrators, citizens, entrepreneurs, and so on are today beset by the idea of smart cities which compels us to deploy digital networks that should provide us with the solution to all current urban development problems: pollution, clean energies, lives facilitated through security which could be provided by data centers and their crime and catastrophe-predicting algorithms. Some technical experts prophesize a new industrial revolution which will be based on the Internet (Klaus Schwab) and others (Jeremy Rifkin) see the third based on energy. When the topic of smart cities comes up, it is generally in reference to cities where costly investments in digital technologies help improve traffic, manage energy flows and transport, and improve management decisions using data processing.

One of the many contradictions and pitfalls of this approach is forgetting that a city constitutes a system of interdependent sub-systems. The IT industry is by far the greediest in terms of energy per unit of production, and it utilizes rare minerals already in danger of depletion that are unevenly spread out across the planet, which incurs as many geopolitical risks as oil does. Before even the oil crisis reaches its peak, we are already in the process of depleting the existing metals [BIH 10]! As formulated today, the two objectives of the smart city – a supposed intelligence provided by digital technology and the cure for energy waste – are contradictory: its ...

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