On ‘smart mobility’ and inequality

Vox has a write-up and author interview on a new book about the ways techbros envision the future of transportation:

“Silicon Valley is wrong about the future of transportation”

But the car’s rise to dominance was anything but predestined, as Paris Marx argues in their new book, Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation. Marx — a writer and podcast host who critiques tech, media, and cities — explores how local governments and corporations mobilized to have cities accommodate cars, leading to an inextricable dependence on them.

Today, Silicon Valley tech companies are getting into the business of redesigning American urban life, just as auto companies did previously. Though Big Tech companies claim they’re solving traffic and climate change, Marx argues that the techno-utopian visions around ride-sharing, electric cars, and autonomous vehicles have done little to truly address the root of these problems, and may actually be making things worse.

A new technology doesn’t change that. If we really want to solve these more fundamental transportation problems that arise from the mass ownership and mass use of the automobile, we need to deal with it at its core. It’s a political problem that has been created over the course of many decades. Adding a new technology to cars isn’t actually going to solve those problems.

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