In the vision of the “frictionless” city contained by many in the tech world, where virtually every urban service, human interaction and consumer experience must be conveyed by an app or digital service that not only removes the need to act directly with another human being , but placing technology at the heart of these interactions, there is no serious attempt to deal with deep-rooted problems – at least outside of rhetorical flourishing. The decisions of venture capitalists to finance companies that transform the way we move, consume and live our daily lives should not be seen as neutral actions. Rather, they push forward visions of the future that benefit themselves by funding companies’ years-long efforts to monopolize their sectors and lobby to change regulatory structures to their advantage. Moreover, rather than challenging the dominance of the car, their ideas almost always seek to expand it.
After more than a decade of being flooded with idealized visions of technologically improved futures whose benefits have not been shared in the ways their initiators promised, we should instead consider what kind of futures they are far more likely to create. I outline three scenarios that are far more realistic and illustrate the world that is being created: First, it is even more separate based on income; secondly, it is even more hostile to pedestrians; and third, it wants to use irresponsible technological systems to control even more aspects of our lives.
Elon Musks Gated Greenwashed City
There are three main aspects to the vision that Musk is developing (which overrides his plans for space colonization). The first is electric personal vehicles. Musk believes in “individualized transportation”, which means that cars should remain the primary means of mobility and that most of the problems that come with an auto-oriented transportation system should be ignored. But his vision is more than a simple preference for personal vehicles, and especially luxury cars. In 2019, the Musk unveiled the Cybertrucken, an unusual vehicle, not because Tesla had never made a truck, but because it took style clips from dystopian science fiction and was designed to withstand brute force attacks. The vehicle has panels that cannot be bent with a sledgehammer and windows that must be bulletproof. While the latter did not work in Musk’s public demonstration, the decision to build such features into an incredibly large vehicle probably says something about the personal fears that underlie Musk’s ideas for the future.
The second element of Musk’s vision is the use of solar panels, especially those attached to suburbs. Following the acquisition of SolarCity, Musk advocated the idea of homeowners generating their own electricity through solar panels and arrays that could be used to charge their electric cars, recharge their batteries in the home, and potentially even earn them a profit by consuming their electric cars. lattice. The third and final piece of the puzzle is Boring Company’s imagined system of tunnels that turned out to be little more than narrow underground roads for expensive vehicles with autonomous driving systems – if they are ever really realized. These aspects also show Musk’s preference for sprawling suburbs with single-family homes over dense, transit-oriented development.
If we were to believe Musk, the vision he promotes for a green future is a vision that will address the climate crisis along with many other urban and mobility issues. But putting these three elements together and considering them along with the trajectory of our capitalist society reveals a different kind of urban future. Without changing the underlying social relations, these technologies are likely to amplify the trends of growing technology billionaire wealth and the desire of these billionaires to shut themselves off from the rest of society.
Keep in mind that the first of Musk’s proposed tunnels was designed to make it easier for him to get to and from work without getting stuck in traffic with everyone else. Instead of a network of tunnels to the masses, such a system could be relocated as one designed by and for the wealthy, inaccessible to the public and connecting only the places that the rich visit: their closed communities, private airport terminals and other exclusive places . areas of the city.