This Town Ain’t Big Enough…

If you’re in or around Toronto on Thursday, May 2, please Save The Date for a new kind of Event Experience!

New York City vs. Amazon.

This past week, New York City told Amazon, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ At first blush, it seems almost incomprehensible. I mean…what about all those JOBS! The jobs Amazon would establish…the additional non-Amazon jobs that would be created to support the workers filling those Amazon jobs…and let’s not forget, robots need work too!

The bulk of the objections, and the main reason for the ultimate decision, seemed to revolve around the financial considerations…the upfront incentives, the tax breaks, etc. But the true cost, the hidden cost…the cost that warranted very little coverage…was the data.

Data about citizens, about the city infrastructure, about other businesses and organizations…data that could and would be used to maintain Amazon’s impressive levels of growth. And let’s not forget the goldmines of data already collected from the HQ2 search itself.

As a result of this decision, some players will benefit, others will lose out. Some might call it a significant victory, others may consider it a massive mistake.

Bottom line, this is about Big Tech (one of the Biggest), and the question of inevitability. It’s about whether or not people will submit to all demands and ‘requests’, regardless of who may accrue the gains, and who may suffer the ill-effects.

Toronto vs. Google.

We are experiencing something analogous here in Toronto, with Sidewalk Labs (Google) in talks to develop our waterfront.

Christopher Hume had an interesting take in the Toronto Star:

“What had civic (and provincial) nabobs gnashing their teeth was Sidewalk’s suggestion that it should receive a share of city property taxes and development fees. And what would the New York-based outfit do in return? A few things, it turns out. Specifically, it would finance the long-delayed Queens Quay LRT, build the infrastructure necessary to remake much of the Port Lands, launch a new wood-based construction industry and, oh yes, kick-start redevelopment of 140 hectares of long neglected landfill. Sidewalk’s argument was simple, but not simple enough; it wants a portion of any increase in land values resulting from its investment. Let’s not forget, right now the Port Lands is little more than 355 hectares of urban potential. Realizing that potential will cost tens of billions over two or three decades. So far, the city has shown little enthusiasm for that sort of investment.”

The article went on to extol the virtues of the project, without any mention of the risks…financially, socially, culturally, politically, and environmentally. And that, my friends, is the root of the problem.

Toys and Noise.

So much of technology is bright lights, bells and whistles, #weaponsofmassdistraction, that can spirit us away from our daily routine. It’s easy to think of most/all of it as benign (at worst) and/or beneficial (at best). Some of it is. Much of it is not.

From a long-term perspective, we’re creating a systemic risk; the greater the interconnectivity of people and technology, the more difficult it will be when (not if) the technology is compromised (by failure, accident, or malicious intent).

Imagine if the Internet broke for one week. The ensuing chaos is almost unimaginable. We are literally putting ourselves into a real-world version of The Matrix, where we are all hooked in to a common Operating System. Except that very soon, unless we slow down and take the time to reflect on what’s best for us, and for future generations…there’s going to be no way to unplug.

Toronto Star Sidewalk Labs article

Please join me each week for experiences, observations, and thoughts related to our upcoming project launch (March 2019). Your likes, comments, and shares are very much appreciated…and thanks for taking the time to stop by! Nigel Oliveira  Nigel’s LinkedIn Profile

One thought on “This Town Ain’t Big Enough…

  1. Nigel, its called a “Web” for a reason, the prey can’t see the web,
    and get wrapped up in the web, and are consumed,
    it was created by “Cern”.
    Look @ the logos of Google & Cern.
    A funnel web portal vortex, to an imprisoned dimension.
    A spinning 666, its definitely a Con-Cern.
    Keep up the good work.


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