May 8, 2020

"The ecologically minded smart city was supposed to replace neglected docklands and disused warehouses with a sea of wooden towers, protected by raincoats."

"Mechanised awnings would protect pedestrians from rain and snow during Toronto’s harsh winters, while traffic lights would optimise the flow of self-driving cars. A network of machines, including subterranean parcel delivery bots, and sensors tracking residents’ behaviour, would provide a blueprint for the connected cities of the future.... Only Toronto has welcomed Sidewalk Labs, making it a test bed for the company. Many residents baulked at the idea of surrendering control to Google, and technology experts expressed concerns over the possible erosion of democratic norms."

From "Google’s sister abruptly cancels work on 'smart city'" (The London Times). So, don't worry, it's not going to happen. Democratic norms can continue uneroded.

32 comments:

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I didn't know that 'baulked/balked' was a thing. I've never encountered that although I read a lot of UK writing. Hunh.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Google is a Russian asset.

daskol said...

90% of London is famously covered by closed circuit camera. We're worried about google and bots? But Canadians will put up with a lot.

Nonapod said...

Maybe living closely packed together in cities isn't such a great idea at all? Maybe one of the after effects of this whole thing will be a slow reversal of urbanization? Something like 2/3rds of the global population live in cities. Up until now there were some very good reasons for this, but as the labor market changes those reasons may become inapplicable.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

But Canadians will put up with a lot.

Americans put up with too much. We allowed our education system to be taken over by the far left. No pushback at all. Now our children are being indoctrinated from Kindergarten to university.

Now Google, YouTube, Twitter and the universities are censoring and deplatforming anything and anyone on the right. Once again no pushback.

John Borell said...

If only our betters could plan every aspect of living for us.

Freedom from rain must be one of those "freedom froms".

Wince said...

"...a sea of wooden towers, protected by raincoats."

That's taking the safe sex message too far, doncha think?

buwaya said...

A better goal is a pleasant, glorious, or ineffable city. Some communal or collective achievement that will reward generations. This is a project for artists and rulers with taste and culture. This is not some fuzzy ideal, because it has been done, often, and if we are lucky we are living in one of these places. We do seem to have lost the knack though.

"Smart" is trendy bureaucratese for things built to a price meant to be sold to especially stupid nekulturny. Another bureaucrat in other words.

buwaya said...

A better goal is a pleasant, glorious, or ineffable city. Some communal or collective achievement that will reward generations. This is a project for artists and rulers with taste and culture. This is not some fuzzy ideal, because it has been done, often, and if we are lucky we are living in one of these places. We do seem to have lost the knack though.

"Smart" is trendy bureaucratese for things built to a price meant to be sold to especially stupid nekulturny. Another bureaucrat in other words.

Fernandinande said...

Mechanised awnings would protect pedestrians from rain and snow during Toronto’s harsh winters

It'd probably be easier to just live underground in the sugar caves.

Bruce Gee said...

Oh, there is push back all right. In education it is called "homeschooling" which has shown remarkable success and is sort of a cottage industry of push back.

As fort the ABC companies, like so many other things they are about to push too far. Sometimes it is best to just stand back and let your enemy fail. There is still plenty of the rebellious American spirit here. It just doesn't make a big splash.

Paul Snively said...

I feel like I already played this game.

tim maguire said...

Bummer. I was looking forward to it.

Darkisland said...

They're Canadians. Willing to be subjects of a foreign queen.

What's one more ruler like Googleto them?

John Henry

Lurker21 said...

I thought Canadian cities already had enough tunnels, passages and walkways that one never had to go outside. They even made an not very good Indy movie about it: WayDowntown.

Fernandinande said...

"Google's sister" is a strange phrase...

It looks like Google's sister company Verily rushed out a half-finished coronavirus testing website after Trump botched the announcement

Google made another lousy website and it's Trump's fault.

n.n said...

Google City operated under an umbrella by Alphabet Corporation.

Big Mike said...

Cities are parasites living off the rural areas of this country. And “smart” does not belong with “Canadian.”

MikeR said...

I would have liked to see how Todos Santos worked out.

Sam L. said...

"So, don't worry, it's not going to happen. Democratic norms can continue uneroded."
OK, but what about REPUBLICAN norms?

Kai Akker said...

"Google City operated under an umbrella by Alphabet Corporation." --n.n

It has a certain ring to it. Mercifully, it is the ring of The Old, Formerly Glorious, World.

A lot of bad ideas are going to be put out of their misery. This is just one of many still to come, I'm sure. A few good ideas will probably be delayed or lost, too. This one definitely has some of those Glorious Old World cobwebs still clinging to it.

Mark said...

It's official, but long suspected.

I ran the various phrases and buzzwords through Google Translate, and it shows that whenever the word "smart" is used for something, e.g. smart city, smart growth, smart appliances, that it translates to "shitty."

KellyM said...

The whole "Smart Cities" thing has been in some level of development for the last 20 years or so. The MIT Media Lab had entire practice/research groups dedicated to creating smart cities, along with the IoT and self-driving cars. A sizeable amount of the funding for these endeavors came from DARPA and NSF. Yeah, nothing to see here.

Unknown said...

All of this electrification sounds like a good idea, until the power company, at the direction of the government, starts turning of the power for days at a time. My father always insisted on a gas stove because then even with the power out, cooking as possible.

lgv said...

Once again, the market has spoken. This level of smart city is some type of utopian scenario that can only be commanded to happen, because includes automation that no one is demanding. The cost benefit equation never works. The cost is always higher than the original estimate.

It's why high speed rail will never happen from normal market demand and the smart toaster has never caught on. The world is fine with putting pieces of bread in slots and pushing a lever.

narciso said...

or new Chicago from buck rogers, which I think was the 1976 montreal Olympics set up, se le guere,

I'm Not Sure said...

"Smart" is how things people are told they should prefer are described in order to make them feel good about buying them and to avoid recognizing what any damfool can plainly see.

fizzymagic said...

I don't believe that "baulked" is the normal British spelling of "balked," although it is listed as a British variant in a couple of dictionaries. It looks unprofessional to me.

gbarto said...

Now they know how Nest owners felt.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Kai Akker said...

It has a certain ring to it.

So did Sauron.

Gospace said...

lgv said...
.......
It's why high speed rail will never happen from normal market demand and the smart toaster has never caught on. The world is fine with putting pieces of bread in slots and pushing a lever.


We have the functional equivalent of high speed rail, actually, better than equivalent. Short haul air routes. That can be rerouted instantly. Use less land. Can take more direct routes from city to city.

The U.S. moves far more freight by rail than any other country, both in actual weight and volume and percentage of freight traffic. That's what rail does efficiently.

America's roads provide efficient and fast people transport, portal to portal instead of station to station, with transfer to another transportation node at either end to get to or from the station. And, roads provide that transport at any time it's convenient for the traveler.

mikee said...

I like to google odd things every once in a while, intensively digging for details, to change the ads I see when reading blogs. Mahindra tractors from India worked quite well, as did seriously expensive men's shoes, from Johnson & Murphy on up to Italian eelskin loafers more expensive than my pickup truck. I recommend adjusting your marketing profile if not regularly, at least interestingly.