IoT & Built Environment; Ethics & Privacy

The program for the 5th. IoT & Built Environment MeetUp on April 9 at V2, this year on Ethics & Privacy, is complete. The full program including – most of – the abstracts for the presentations  is now on the MeetUp-website, to be completed in the coming days. With this program we wish to discuss/answer the need for a rethinking of the ethical and privacy issues which are so deeply connected to the IoT; to much it still is a technological development with too less attention for the important human issues involved.

This evening will be preceded by a thematic program at the HR.

see for a full list of WW-events the IOTday website.

IoT-MeetUp on WW-IoT-day

On April 9, 2015 , the 4th Internet of Things & Built Environment MeetUp was held in Rotterdam, after 3 years now back at V2. In combination with a parallel program at HR and WdKA in their own venues; we had an interesting series of presentations and debates on the actual issues concerning iot and smart city. See the recordings at https://vimeo.com/channels/908003/ and listen back.

Internet of Things & Built Environment, April 9.

Coming up; the 4th. Internet of Things, Built Environment & Smart City MeetUp in Rotterdam on the evening of April 9, WW-IoT-day. Location is V2, with a fine line-up of speakers that promises an actual state of affairs as well as an interesting discussion. For now: Nimish Biloria (TU-Delft/Arch.) Floris Schiferli (Superuse Studios), Bem van Lier (Centric), Cristina Ampatzidou, Jan Belon (Buitengewone Zaken), Elizabeth Sikiaridi (hybridspacelab). We plan debate with local politicians on the ‘Smart City’.

HR as well as WdKA will organize parallel programs within their own venues that same day.

admission is free but strictly limited to 75 visitors. More info and registration soon on the MeetUp-site.

dreams and science

Dreams or science?

For many people a new year tends to set off with dreams, expectations and good intentions. Just before the turn of the year, on Dec. 14th.2013, the Dutch writer/columnist Bas Heijne read his so called ‘Huizinga’-lecture; a yearly presented text based on the works of the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga who lived from 1872 till 1945. The title of his fine and thoughtful lecture was “the Enchantment of the World” and is – so far, alas – only available in Dutch. (http://uitgeverijprometheus.nl/index.php?option=com_pac&view=boek_detail&isbn=9789044626377)

Heijne’s theme was the suggestion that science has robbed the world of magic, fantasy, dreams and interpretation. While referring to Icarus’ fall to earth – due to his recklessness coming to close to the sun – the example can be interpreted in two ways: first there is Icarus’ courage to achieve new heights with the help of technology (and his inventive father Daedalus) , while on the other hand one can question his recklessness: he did not realise the human limits. Heijne ends his lecture with a warning: “If we do no not regard ourselves and the world as a given, but as something that is given to us, it can shield us for the delusion of manufacturability”. (transl. mp)

Tempting as it is; this is not the proper place to contemplate further on his text; our concern is to determine where does this touches upon the subject of this website: technology as part of science and in particular the IoT. As we know, the Internet of Things came to light around 1999 and was ‘upgraded’ only recently by Cisco into the ‘Internet of Everything’ . This was followed by the ‘Internet of People’ which can be regarded as the acknowledgement that connecting only ‘things’ might be a somewhat limited worldview, despite the fact that by 2020 we will have roughly seven times more connected things than people on our earth.

Since we already experience a situation in which we now already have more connected things than people the question seems justifiable as to which is the world that is ‘given to us’ today; after all, in no time – on the scale of history – our world has changed from practically no connectivity whatsoever into a situation of ubiquitous connectivity. Since our build environment is to a large extend what is making us who we are, we need to recognise the influence this has on the way we act and experience in this artificial space. Jacques Derrida, referring to Heidegger, once remarked: ‘we must learn again how to inhabit’. (Derrida, Point de Folie, p.7, 1986); more important than ever since there is an ontological difference between the environment that ‘acts’ as a passive framework and the one that ‘acts’ as an intermediate/interface between inhabitant and (build) structure.

Architecture can be regarded as the adaptation of space to human needs; technology can assist in determining and realising this adaptation from a viewpoint of service: it facilitates and enhances experience including the assumed lost dreams and fantasy.

Returning to Heijne’s lecture: if we consider the world as it is now again as given to us, we again need to reconsider the differences – and developments – that provide us with this fundamental shift of environment due to increasing technology, which in itself is an element of scientific research. Since however the research on dreams, fantasy and imagination does not keep up with how we experience all this within an increasingly technologically mediated ‘sphere’ we need to rethink what really determines the intimate sphere we call home. In her Onlife Manifesto Keynote-lecture on February 8th. 2013 in Brussels Prof. Julie Cohen remarked: “Preserving breathing room for the play of everyday practice in a networked world is an urgent project for lawyers and policy-makers, for technology designers and engineers, and also for everyone else”

I wish you all a thoughtful and connected 2014.

this article was published on Jan. 1st. 2014 on IOT-World.

a sense of awareness

a sense of awareness.

If the wind starts to blow, swarms of leaves turn out to be subtle bioengineered robots that harness that very wind to propel themselves into an emergent shelter that surrounds you”.

Jaron Lanier, ‘Who owns the Future’. (2013, p.9)

The recent announcement of a 2014 IoT-conference states that “the Internet of Things (IoT) has been considered an innovative and imminent information infrastructure enabling to ubiquitously network various machines, physical devices, and objects, denoted as things, for environment sensing, information sharing and collaboration in intelligent and autonomous manner.” (italics MP)

Our homes are, next to the place to which we keep returning, also the environment where we are surrounded by memories of – past – experiences, dreams and images. Many of these are closely related to objects: many of us occupy houses that have a history of sometimes ages. These houses have witnessed generations of inhabitants, each of which has left their personal signs, marks and traces. Since decades our housing is simply ‘functioning’ , meaning that it does not ‘communicate’; a house remains a passive structure which was not ‘responsive’, let alone communicative.

In his wonderful contemplative little book ‘In Praise of Shadows’ the Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki reflects on spheres and objects in his house, as if they were a living element. He praises the light coming through the wooden blinds, the patina of ancient furniture, the history of a lacquered bowl. My own house is built in 1904; I know almost nothing of its history, its original decorations and paints, its former inhabitants. If we can provide objects, materials and structure with a sense of ‘awareness’ that environment can be recognisable and identifiable, it comes to ‘life’. Not only does our home ‘interact’ but its history becomes tangible and imaginable.

Relating the above to architecture provides a somewhat curious image: we build our homes for an average of 70 years; we tend to move roughly every 7 years, varying of course for each country. We – that is, usually an architect – envision a building/house which becomes a fixed structure; we pile stones, we lay wooden or concrete flooring, we add a roof. This is done the same way over centuries; a house in Roman times basically does not vary that much from a modern house. Developments in infrastructure, materials and finishing are of course modernised over time, but essentially not that much has changed. Since the last 10 years however everything in/around our housing has changed and will keep changing: it will be(come) connectable and identifiable, as a structure and as a place for inhabitation and communication. There will be no fundamental difference between structure, building, materials and objects in the sense that one is connectable and the other is not. We increasingly live in a hyper-connected world in which our house – and our home – will become an integrated, adaptable element which participates in the ubiquitous communication.

If we look at the recent works of e.g. Tomás Saraceno or Daan Roosegaarde’s Flow we witness an increasing synthesis between technology, imaginative power and environment. These projects move beyond the traditional singular approach; they try to link our sensory awareness with innovative material options; thus achieving a (spatial) experience which enhances the build framework.

It is up to all disciplines involved in ‘building’ this sphere to surpass the traditional limits of the trade/profession and their boundaries and ensure we create innovative environments for everybody; not just the modern (?) western world.

this article was publised on Dec. 1st. 2013 on IoT-world ;