Toronto residents are grappling with a quandary posed by the plans of Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a smart city on its eastern waterfront.
It’s always fun to learn about Google’s various madcap capers, typically carried out under cheerful, ungainly named subsidiaries supposedly living it up independently from its legal guardian. When a corporate restructuring saw Google give itself a Sesame Street-evoking parent company called Alphabet in 2015, it was like watching a six-year-old billionaire orphan enlisting a clown to build them a benevolent new mum out of balloons.
Google, after all, wasn’t nominally responsible for its boisterous brother Boston Dynamics, provider of those butt-clenching robots. It was Alphabet that cut it loose from the family for damaging its reputation in, to be fair, the most apocalyptic fashion imaginable.
But it’s tempting to only see the positives of a futuristic city, with streets that “blur the line between indoors and outdoors”, some nice shops and highly reliable Wi-Fi. It’s also reasonable, however, to relate to locals who worry they’re being treated like lab rats. This city would be the first of its kind, and if the wrong person hacks into it, the whole place could be programmed into something from a Saw film based in a Westfield.