Smart City Governance: AI Ethics in a Spatial Context (7,5 credits)

Credit-bearing course

Data Science

Societal Aspects of AI

Human-AI Interaction

Applications of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used to change our cities and manage traffic and movement, meet the needs of commerce, combat crime, monitor individuals and improve our everyday lives. At the same time, legal, democratic and ethical interests need to be balanced against technical needs for optimization. How may individuals’ privacy and rights to codetermination be balanced against development and employment of learning technologies (machine learning / AI) dependent on a lot of data? What is the main legal framework and what ethical guidelines should preferrably be adhered to? What degree of explainability and transparency is reasonable towards citizens, and in what ways do expectations and perceived benefits differ in different parts of the world?

In line with the need for responsible design and ethical reflection on digitalisation, this course aims to give an understanding of the role of individuals’ data and autonomous and self-learning technologies (artificial intelligence) in an urban and spatial context. By looking at concrete and mainly international cases of development and control of so-called smart cities, including applications such as facial recognition in public environments or how “the city as a platform” has had an impact in urban planning, knowledge can be gained about what interests need to be balanced and what level of governance is reasonable for managing individuals’ data in an urban context.

The course will thus, in a general sense, provide insights into the importance of digitalisation and the societal significance of new technologies with a focus on legal and ethical challenges, with a specific focus on cities and spatial contexts. It includes phenomena such as data capture and collection of large individual-based data sets, the growth and importance of digital platforms, and autonomous and self-learning technologies in the AI​​field – and the forces operating therein between private and international as well as public and national actors. The course is thus intended to give technical students and engineers an in-depth knowledge of the consequences of how technology is applied in, and interacts with, society – with a focus on smart cities, governance and ethics.