Alphabet, Google’s parent company, have announced that they plan to build a new ‘city’ on Toronto’s eastern waterfront. However, this will be a unique digital city where you can operate a taxi with an app. Exciting right?
Although this idea sounds strange, there are similar creations such as Songdo, South Korea and Masdar, Abu Dhabi which are formally known as smart cities.
The central focus of the creation of such a utopian idea is to create a cleaner, healthier and environmentally friendly place to live and work; which will inevitably lead to living more fulfilled and happier lives.
What is digital about this city?
Upon entrance into the mini-metropolis, there will be sensors collecting data on air quality, noise and traffic pollution. Additionally, a unique technology that controls the weather and climate conditions will be in operation, as an attempt to encourage citizens to use the outdoor space. This is designed to monitor the effectiveness of the city and maintain its intended purpose. Other factors regarding the city will also be monitored, such as waste collection (operated by robots) and the usage of the electric grid.
Nevertheless, there is still mounting opposition about the implementation of this digital city, one being the deputy mayor of Toronto Mr Denzil Minnan-Wong.
What is all the fuss about? This is a great idea…isn’t it?
The valid concern about the misapplication of data is at the forefront of Mr Minnan-wong’s mind, as he claims that Alphabet is being secretive about the intended use for the data harvested, as well as the technological deal made over the purchase of the eastern waterfront. The deputy mayor questions whether the purchase of the waterfront was a real estate deal disguised as a technological proposition.
In response, Alphabet has stated that they will not be collecting data from the users of the city. However, It this reassurance does not seem to take precedence over the secretive aspect of Alphabet’s working nature.
What about us?
With all the technological progress in this digital era, it leads us to question where humanity will be in the future. What uses will we have if the robots and machines do the work once performed by us? With less jobs and an increase in human population, will the creation of modern technology be the demise of our species as we know it? Or will the rise in technology be a form of modern discrimination? Where only those who can afford to live ‘cleanly’ will have the opportunity to benefit from a digital city.