back to article Lucky Canada. Google chooses Toronto as site of posthuman urban lab

Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs venture has chosen Toronto as its urban laboratory – one in which humans may ultimately be optional. Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff has fantasised how convenient a city would be without people. Google won't take over the entire city – at least not just yet. It's opted to redevelop 12 acres of the the city …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's in it for Google?

    I'm thinking that this is the test bed, get all your sensors, programming, services etc... up to the level of a Utopian building development where people will want to live, Like the Jetsons.

    Once all that's done you can build more but this time you sell them to the people that have wealth, everyone else can live off whatever scraps they are given then turned into soylent green.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      up to the level of a Utopian building development where people will want to live

      Well, with the politest intonation, speak for yourself. Even as described, as per the artists impressions, this looks like a vision of hell to me. All that do-gooding eco-living claptrap, trying to pretend that cities can ever be anything other than a wart on the land.

      If communications are so clever, so good, perhaps the Einsteins at Google could explain why people should live in cities in future? Surely the one thing communications can do is to liberate people from the need to go and live cheek-by-butt-crack with other people. The whole point of a city was that it was originally some sort of critical economic mass, back in the days when work and worth always had a heavy physical component, a mass, and often a short shelf life.

      We should be looking for a future where cities are demolished, not reinvented as some corporate chicken farm where humans are kept for their data. Never mind Minority Report, this is The Matrix.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's why I said "People", I'm with you.

        I still think the intended aim is to create (if we already haven't) a two tier society. These are the "nice" homes wait till they build the others. 40 families sharing one bathroom, slop supplied twice a day for subsistence and 200 channels of reality TV for entertainment. That's the future right there.

        1. TeaLeaf

          Some people like cities...

          I'm just not one of them. On the other hand, when out in the boonies the mosquitoes come from miles around to feast on me. So I need a compromise.

          I wouldn't worry too much about this. Once our local youth get in there, the shine will be off anybody else. It's why we can't have nice things in Toronto.

      2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Not everyone wants to live out in the sticks and raise chickens. Some of us like living in cities, where there are social things to do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Some of us like living in cities

          Well, each to his own. You enjoy that fine urban air quality, the low crime and excellent public safety, the litter-free, uncongested movement it affords, the high living standards, the open space, the silence, the opportunity to observe nature ("This is Warren Street, disembark here for ZSL London Zoo"), the magnificent dark night skies, the freedom to live your life off of CCTV, your every movement not tracked at all.....

          I suppose you don't get theatre out in the sticks (well, there's Minack, or the RSC at Stratford Upon Avon). Or opera (ignoring Gyndebourne, or Aldeburgh). Or any number of music festivals, concerts and performances.

      3. jmch Silver badge

        "If communications are so clever, so good, perhaps the Einsteins at Google could explain why people should live in cities in future? "

        Because people like to meet other people in person, and like to attend live events like concerts, sports etc. No cities = no critical mass to allow this, or people travelling long distances to get there. Neither makes sense.

        "We should be looking for a future where cities are demolished"

        And what then? Increase the built-up area of the planet by at least ten-fold, and screw the environment even mor eroyally? Or get rid of a few billion inconvenient people?

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      What's in it for Google?

      They get lots of people to run around their behavioural lab. And, if Trump gets into a nuclear war with N. Korea, the heads of Google get plenty of available protien, ready to harvest..

  2. frank ly


    "We couldn't help but notice that the buildings don't have curtain walls, ..."

    I'm sure that's just an artistic/architectural representation to display interior space. Oh wait, ... it's Google .....ahhh.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I love my dyslexia...

    I read that as "Bacon sightings" and "bacon sensors" and now wish for such things IRL or the accompanying XKCD!

    (Which would be a panel of someone reading White Hat's whiteboard with "bacon sensors" and saying "that's not a spelling mistake is it?". With White Hat's reply "Oh, good catch, should be "falcon sensors", that sounds an unlikely typo, but I use an Avery adapted version of the Dvorak keyboard")

  4. ma1010
    Big Brother

    Oh, more than that!

    ...and 200 channels of reality TV for entertainment.

    The reality TV will be much more than a mere 200 channels and quite easy to supply as it will be live video and audio of all the doings in others' apartments (and they get to see you, of course). And government will certainly endorse it. After all, this is the surveillance state on steroids Google's grand and glorious vision of the future.

    Who needs telescreens to keep an eye on the plebs when you have Google's sensors?

  5. Charlie van Becelaere

    The rest of Canada

    has long known that Toronto was INhuman; now we know it's posthuman.

  6. Mark 85

    Sounds like the perfect city for Google... they will know everything and sell what they know. The sheeple who live there will just mosey about and consume what Google tells them too. No thought required on the citizens part and Google makes profit! I'd suggest that this idea get burned with fire and quickly.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    "a fully Google-fied neighbourhood"

    Frankly, the idea of a neighborhood built toGoogle's specifications is not a positive selling point for me. Add to that the amount of buzzword bingo in this announcement and I have to wonder if this really will turn into some kind of fully commercialized "Citizen Marketing Hack likes to take the elevator in the morning, perhaps we can serve him an ad for the local pastry shop before the Google-mobile comes by to pick him up" dystopia.

  8. Phil Endecott

    On the plus side...

    It does seem to have a distillery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the plus side...

      Don't get your hopes up, Google rely entirely on algorthims. Can you imagine what sort of swill we'd get from an AI controlled distillery?

      Beer drinkers were subjected to this fate many years ago, when accountants overran the big breweries.

      As a result many American citizens sadly don't know what ale is, and believe that US Budweiser is a beer (or even a lager). And the situation is barely any better in the UK, with the peasants happily drinking alcoholic rainwater like Fosters, Carling, and Carlsberg.

    2. SoaG

      Not a distillery, but you'll have cause to drink if you live there.

      It's a decommissioned coal power plant. That smokestack is still one of the tallest structures in the country at over 700'.

      Just out of frame to the left is a cement factory and another Toronto landmark:

      The Ashbridge's Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

      Not to worry though. You'll hardly notice over the smell of the harbour. As part of Lake Ontario, you'll also note that even in the sketch nobody's swimming.

      Sounds like it's going to be great place to raise a family!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    "How convenient a city would be without humans"

    And thus Skynet became self aware.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Better Late to the Global ReOrganization Party than Never

    Data rules in the Googlezone, with everything monitored and analysed. It's what Google calls "the programmable public realm. ...Building on a robust system of asset monitoring,..."

    We've been there before already with everything readied for such elsewhere places/real virtualised spaces, and have it Registered, AO, .......

    A Private Facility with Augmented Virtual Reality Applications for Future Beta-Testing of Superior Prime Quality Product/Earthly Alien Productions …… AI Based Programs with Quantum Communication Channels Guaranteeing Security Needs and Feeds Enabled to Handle Delivery and Drivering of Virtual Reality ProgramMING …….. with Ab Fab Fabless NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT AIMentoring and AIMonitoring for Future Leading Developments, Default Provided ….. thus to avoid and/or mitigate any Hellish* Problems.

    Should El Reg Engage and lead with the Learning of Secret Sacred Practices in the Future that do Almighty Lead, Every Day? ....... Heaven Available

    And you and El Regers were/are personally indirectly invited to practise and exercise new fangled remote virtual quantum communication entangled reactionary/proactive lead .......

    When IT is such, and Finely Built, Who Follows What to Lead and Create the Future with these New Fangled, Quantum Entangling Tools for Virtual Reality Production with AIMentored and AVMonitored Directors in Absolute Command with/of Remote Alien Controls. ..... and they are tricky enough to learn how to handle to be perfectly safe and secure against compromise and/or penetration and unwarranted alteration or misappropriation of code.

    cc Andrew Orlowski, Executive Editor, El Reg ..... Real High Virtual Roller Stakes Poker Play ....... for Phantom Ghost Hosters.

    Is Google World expected to provide and do everything in the future all by itself? Now that just isn't going to happen, is it, in SMARTR Connectioned Worlds

    Subject: An Engaging Competition or Emergent Opposition, or Both and Something Else Too and Beautifully Creative

    Date: 30 January 2016 at 09:46:55 GMT


    Hi, Google DeepMinded,

    Not so much a CV, more an AIMission Statement with tried and tested roadmaps to/from Remote Virtual Command and Control of Earthed SCADA Systems …….

    Search Engine Optimisation v2.0 [and above] is surely logically a Future Product Placements Engine …… Advanced Intelligence Resource with Immaculate Source, with the likes of a Google not searching for answers, both popular and controversial, but providing them with streams of supporting evidence.

    Such would be akin to the Private Mentoring with Pirated Monitoring of Future Events with AIDerivative Programming for Projects/Semi-Autonomous, Self-Actualisation of Virtual Realities.

    It is difficult, and maybe even impossible, to see or imagine a defence against such in an attacking configuration.


  11. hatti


    Beanbags and exposed pipework for all Googlezens

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    Who are you?

    The new number 2

  13. Zash the Bench Geek

    Just let those social media nutcases have their fun.

    By creating this Googlopolis(tm) and all the data collected within, we can(maybe) see from a controlled environment what would(may) happen instead of assuming based on fictional stories(Skynet/Matrix?) Would self-willed machines really be all that bad? We should not avoid trying things because someone with a creative mind created a worse case scenario story. That's like never going swimming ever because there was a sea creature you saw in a movie that wants to eat you. The 'sheeple' who wish to be part of this machine controlled 'utopia' should have the right to present themselves as an entire reality TV show for the entertainment of those who want to watch. Obviously there must be people who want to see this, just look at the the state of the US presidency...(I see this as a reality TV show taking over a country, or the sequel to that apprentice show)

    If they want it, let them have it, the rest of us can enjoy the wonders of actual reality while crossing our fingers that they don't decide to 'consume?' us. Oh wait, we already are the consumed and the consumers...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Just let those social media nutcases have their fun.

      If they want it, let them have it, the rest of us can enjoy the wonders of actual reality while crossing our fingers that they don't decide to 'consume?' us. Oh wait, we already are the consumed and the consumers... .... Zash the Bench Geek

      There is/are certainly the Means and Memes to Supply and Present Virtual Machine Controlled Utopia, Zash the Bench Geek, with very nearly all of it quite recently shared here on El Reg for Proofing and Tasking ....... and Improving with and for Future Immaculate Source Supply ...... Remote Virtually Anonymous Practically Autonomous Provision ..........

      And you don't have to be any sort of an Einstein to realise and believe that is whole lotta fun like you aint ever thought possible before. I Kid U Not.

      Capiche and concur, Zash the Bench Geek, Simon Sharwood and SMARTR AI Spooks in these Super Surreal Realms? Or is more evidence needed to be shared and more widely shown?

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