the-atlantic

The City of the Future Is a Data-Collection Machine

In Silicon Valley, to make a device “smart” means to add internet connectivity, allowing it to collect, send, and receive data, often while learning and adapting to user preferences. The technology industry has invested wholesale in the idea that “smart” means better, and so we have smart speakers, smart thermometers, smart baby monitors, smart windowshades, and smart sex toys, all perpetually collecting rich user data to send back to company servers.

Soon enough, we’ll have a smart city: Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is building one  “from the internet up,”with help from a series of private-public real estate partnerships in the downtown Toronto neighborhood Quayside (pronounced “Key-side”).

It is not the first smart city—municipalities around the world have adopted smart infrastructure like AI-enabled traffic lights —but it might be the most ambitious. The project’s 200-page wish list of features is astounding. The “vision document” imagines not only the revitalization of a 12-acre plot that has sat largely vacant since its heyday as an industrial port, but its transformation into a microcity outfitted with smart technologies that will use data to disrupt everything from traffic congestion to healthcare, housing, zoning regulations, and greenhouse gas emissions. Long before flying cars, smart sensors won’t just be in our mattresses or our bidets, they’ll be embedded in the walls of our homes and the concrete beneath our feet…

Read Full Source: The Atlantic

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