Paris Marx will be speaking in Edmonton this Saturday about technology and the effects it is having on our cities. The event, hosted by Coun. Michael Janz, starts at 6 p.m. at Kaffa Cafe, 10920 88 Ave. NW. Marx is the host of the podcast, Tech Won’t Save Us, and author of Road to Nowhere, which looks at how highways and motorized vehicles have changed cities, created suburban commutes, and how promised advances in transportation technology won’t really benefit our lives.
Ahead of their appearance in Edmonton, Urban Affairs spoke to Marx. The interview has been edited.
What will you be talking about this Saturday?
Over the past 10 to 15 years, the tech industry has proposed a lot of big solutions for us, around transportation and many other issues we’re facing in society… The tech industry is really good at getting us to buy into its narratives and its vision of the world. But, I think it’s fair to say that what we’ve seen is that they’ve been unable to deliver on a lot of those really big promises, in transportation and many other different arenas, as well.
The self-driving cars that were supposed to be everywhere by now are just being tested in a few cities. Even then, there’s a lot of complaints about how they actually work and what they mean for traffic patterns, getting in the way of emergency vehicles and things like that.
The hyperloop, of course, has been worked on for a decade and isn’t really any closer to arriving today than it was back then.
Whether it’s the various problems in our transport system, with traffic, emissions and road deaths, or wider issues like climate change, it’s worth recognizing that technology will help us to address those issues, but ultimately those are political problems and not technological ones. So, if we want to solve them we need to look at the things that we know will work to address these problems, rather than hoping that the tech industry is going to invent some magical technology that will fix it all.