Marcel Schouwenaar

Marcel is a strategist, designer, and technologist. In 2012, he co-founded The Incredible Machine, a design studio focused on understanding the opportunities and implications of emerging technologies for clients like LEGO, Festool, Philips, IKEA, etc. In 2015, he co-wrote the IoT Design Manifesto to address an urgent need for a more responsible application of technology. Since 2015, Marcel has been co-organizing ThingsCon Amsterdam, a conference around human-centric and responsible technology. Currently, he is working on Fairbike, an autonomous bike-sharing service that is no longer human owned nor operated.


Lightning Talk: Conversations in the Accountable City; A Case for Transparent Algorithms.

While rapid urbanization is putting more strain on scarcer resources – like clean air, energy, and safety – cities flock to algorithms to optimize the allocation of resources. But how the algorithms of the smart city decide how to allocate resources? Can they do this in a fair and inclusive manner? What are the implications of algorithms deciding what individual or family gets to enjoy what quality of service in the city? To many engineers, that question is out our scope, however, systems are put in place nonetheless. The Incredible Machine was commissioned a conversation piece by a major energy network operator in the Netherlands. Their challenge is that all efforts in their industry are focused at improving operational efficiency in energy distribution. The conversation piece: the Transparent Charging Station, is an speculative piece that lets engineers, city operators, and other decision makers reflect on the implications of their work. Several cities have shown interest in making their algorithms transparent, also as leverage in private/public collaborations where private companies take on responsibilities towards citizens. — notes: bear with me that the current representation of the work is intended at laymen if it comes to ethics. The presentation with take a more academic perspective.

Explainer video