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Cities Are Technology

·3 mins

When people think of technology they likely imagine your typical futurology: robots, artificial intelligence, and space travel. But technology is more interesting than science fiction porn. It’s the way we manipulate the world around us. It’s the way we shape our environment to suit our needs. And in that sense, cities are technology.

A future no one asked for.
It’s not the future we wanted, but what we got. The backward cars and other weirdness are good examples of why we are not ‘AI’ yet.

By one definition, technology is the application of science to solve problems. And cities are the embodiment of that. They are the result of thousands of years of problem-solving. They are the product of human ingenuity and creativity. They are the ultimate expression of our desire to shape the world and our expertise at adaptation.

I’m a massive fan of cities. I think cities are underrated and underloved as what is probably HuMaNiTy’s most outstanding technological achievement. We tend to think about small individual technologies. Still, we tend not to think about technology in its totality, and the city is the ultimate expression of the power of technology.

But cars are bad #

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may not be surprised to realize this is yet another post about why cars suck. We are seeing a shift in how we think about urban design, specifically our accommodation of cars, particularly amongst the younger demographics who’ve realized that this suburban hellscape isn’t so great.

We are starting to realize that cars are not the best way to move people around cities. Cars are inefficient, dangerous, and harmful to the delicate environment that gives us life. That environment allows us to exist (no, thrive) on this tiny speck of dust floating in the vastness of space, and no amount of stock market returns can make up for it. We’ve only got this one planet, and Elon Musk cannot save us with his rockets and electric cars.

The solution is there #

It’s no secret I’m somewhat of a doomer regarding the climate crisis. At this point, we have no choice but to go down the path of geoengineering, as we can’t put the cat back in the bag, and all the metrics are accelerating in the wrong direction (woopsie doodle!). For the long-term survival of our species, we’ll have to block out the sun somehow or magically AI some carbon out of the atmosphere. But that’s a topic for another post.

But there is still some hope, or at the very least, we can make things suck a lot less. Why not invest in our cities instead of bailing out failing automakers? We can make our cities more livable, sustainable, and enjoyable. We can make them places where people want to live, work, and play. We can make them places where people can thrive and be happy without the loud, noxious, and obnoxious steel death boxes zooming around and clogging up our public spaces. We can plant trees, expand parks instead of parking spaces, and build infrastructure that supports walking, cycling, and public transit. We can make cities that work for people instead of cars.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying it will be cheap. But I am saying it would be nice. One can dream.