Three years ago Google subsidiary Sidewalk Labs floated visions of smart self-driving cars and smarter technology making Toronto, Canada, a leader among smart cities.
Last week, that all died.
Sidewalk Labs canceled the Quayside project on May 7.
And while COVID-19 drove the final nail into the Quayside plan, it’s been troubled for years with challenges around privacy and cost. Few have mourned its passing as the project had become more and more controversial over time. BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie called it “a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism,” while venture capitalist Roger McNamee called it “dystopian.”
Agree or disagree, it’s clear there were major challenges to the Google proposal. And it’s also clear that our relationship with big tech — and big data — has changed substantially over the last few years.
But here’s what we lost.