Writer and urbanist Adam Greenfield in conversation with Laura Kurgan, Director, Center for Spatial Research, Columbia GSAPP
Everywhere we turn, our everyday experience of the world is being transfigured by the advent of startling new technologies. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of the Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to rethink our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define our lives, as well as the Silicon Valley consensus that is determining the shape of our future.
We already depend on the smartphone to navigate every aspect of our daily lives. The technologies that follow in its wake, from augmented-reality interfaces and virtual assistants to autonomous delivery drones and self-driving cars, are offered to us with the promise that they will make life easier, more convenient and more productive. 3D printing promises unprecedented control over the form and distribution of matter, while the blockchain stands to revolutionize everything from the recording and exchange of value to the way we organize ourselves in groups and polities. And all the while, fiendishly complex algorithms are operating quietly in the background, reshaping the economy, transforming the fundamental terms of our politics and even redefining what it means to be human.
Having successfully colonized everyday life, these radical technologies are now conditioning the choices that will be available to us in the future, and most of us haven’t even begun to think about what it all means. Just how did they claim such a prominent place in our lives? How do they work? What challenges do they present to us, as selves and societies? In answering these questions, Greenfield orients us to the circumstances we now confront — and prods us to the thought and action necessary to ensure that our values will survive the years to come.
Previously a rock critic, bike messenger and psychological operations specialist in the US Army, Adam Greenfield spent over a decade working in the design and development of networked digital information technologies, as lead information architect for the Tokyo office of internet services consultancy Razorfish, Independent User-Experience Designer and Head of Design Direction for Service and User-Interface Design at Nokia headquarters in Helsinki.
Selected in 2013 as Senior Urban Fellow at the LSE Cities centre of the London School of Economics, he has taught in the Urban Design program of the Bartlett, University College London, and in New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. His books include Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, Urban Computing and Its Discontents, and the bestselling Against the Smart City.
Free and open to the public.
Presented by the Center for Spatial Research at Columbia GSAPP.