Decentralization in Digital Societies: A Design Paradox
Digital societies come with a design paradox: On the one hand, technologies, such as Internet of Things, pervasive and ubiquitous systems, allow a distributed local intelligence in interconnected devices of our everyday life such as smart phones, smart thermostats, self-driving cars, etc. On the other hand, Big Data collection and storage is managed in a highly centralized fashion, resulting in privacy-intrusion, surveillance actions, discriminatory and segregation social phenomena. What is the difference between a distributed and a decentralized system design? How “decentralized” is the processing of our data nowadays? Does centralized design undermine autonomy? Can the level of decentralization in the implemented technologies influence ethical and social dimensions, such as social justice? Can decentralization convey sustainability? Are there parallelisms between the decentralization of digital technology and the decentralization of urban development?