The Smart City & Post-Anthropocene


AA School

Image by Jane Franka

If we managed to originate an Anthropocene condition – aka the geological era we are currently living in – it’s because mankind perseveringly failed to recognise other organisms’ independence. We have been building our society and our cities with the certainty that we are the only intelligent living form inhabiting the earth, thus imposing our “wisdom” upon the rest. According to our vision, nature, animals and more broadly the ecosystems, have been passive agents within this perpetual race for progress.

Paradoxically, technology might drastically change this truth.

Machines, buildings, factories and cars are increasingly ‘gaining’ their autonomy as technology is enabling us to develop intelligent devices. The built environment that surrounds us is eventually becoming an autonomous structure made of smart architecture and self-driving cars. Processes of decision-making will be handed over to AI machines, which will be considered as independent entities, eventually making humankind just one of the agents participating in this game.

And what if this shift within the world’s hierarchy would open up the spectrum of non-human entities that we can consider independently active? What if by accepting technological devices as ‘beings’ we would then consider climate change, seas, and nature as intelligent forms able to participate in the shaping of our future?

Whilst recent philosophical investigations such as new materialism and object-oriented ontologies have been exploring these possibilities, others are already talking about a post-anthropocene condition.

As the emblem of our society, cities will undoubtedly be the place where most changes will be incorporated; urbanism and architecture will play a crucial role in the shaping of future landscape. How will architects, engineers, and designers approach such possibilities? And how will they include other forms of intelligent systems within our living spaces?