Dr Ben Green is our guest in this week’s episode. Ben spoke in the Smart Cities stream at the conference on 9 October 2020. He is the author of The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology In Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future and he is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan.

During our conversation, Ben shares what sparked his move from a physics major to his work on the social and political impacts of government algorithms.

We move on to talk about his book, The Smart Enough City, which was published by MIT Press in 2019, and why it’s essential reading for both city officials and urban dwellers in the “battle for the future of cities”. The core message of the book is that “cities are not technology problems and technology cannot solve many of today’s most pressing urban challenges”.

We also talk about how and why data scientists must recognise themselves as political rather than neutral actors, in the context of a paper Ben wrote titled, “Data Science as Political Action: Grounding Data Science in a Politics of Justice“.

Lastly, we talk about his FAT*2020 paper, Algorithmic Realism, co-authored with Salomé Viljoen, which proposes a new mode of algorithmic thinking to “better equip computer scientists to reduce algorithmic harms and to reason well about doing good.”

We loved talking to Ben and we hope you enjoy the episode.

Get your copy of The Smart Enough City from MIT or read an open access version. Connect with Ben on Twitter and find out more about his work and current thinking at https://www.benzevgreen.com.

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