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Utopia, Dystopia, Heterotopia and, now, Bettertopia

Friday, 23 March, 2018

Did you know that Björk used 12 flutes on her Utopia album? She has decided, however, to employ just seven flautists in her upcoming concert in Reykjavík on April 12th.

So much for Utopia in Iceland. In China, by way of contrast, they’re moving rapidly towards the opposite. “China’s Dystopian Tech Could Be Contagious” warns Adam Greenfield in The Atlantic. Beijing’s Dystopia is terrifying: “Known by the anodyne name ‘social credit,’ this system is designed to reach into every corner of existence both online and off. It monitors each individual’s consumer behavior, conduct on social networks, and real-world infractions like speeding tickets or quarrels with neighbors. Then it integrates them into a single, algorithmically determined ‘sincerity’ score.”

And Heterotopia? The term was used in 1984 by Michel Foucault (who else?) in a text titled “Of other spaces” that was published in Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité.

Which brings us to Bettertopia. “Welcome to Bettertopia,” says Panasonic, the Japanese multinational electronics corporation headquartered in Osaka. “This dream city is always filled with smiles and vitality. Panasonic’s products and services, using current and future advanced technologies, are supporting people’s lives and businesses here.”

Love this bit on what happens when sports fans visit the Bettertopia Stadium:

“Thank you for coming. I’m the manager here, so let me show you around. First, come this way to the entrance gate. Where’s the line? There is no line to enter. We don’t have such a thing in our stadium. You’ve already registered with a photograph of your face, and the face recognition system does the job. So you can get in quickly. You can pick up your pre-ordered meal and drinks here. Merchandise and food can be purchased without cash or credit cards. Your face is all you need.”

If you dream of Panasonic’s dream city, note: “Your face is all you need.”


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