• Society cannot trust Elon Musk or Silicon Valley to improve transportation, says author Paris Marx.
  • Musk is designed as a future creator in a way that benefits him but not society, he told Insider.
  • Marx wrote “Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong About The Future of Transportation”.

Governments and the public shouldn’t trust Silicon Valley billionaires like Elon Musk when they promise to solve climate change and improve transportation systems, according to author and transportation researcher Paris Marx.

Musk is “a truly narcissistic, self-interested billionaire trying to convey to the public a particularly naive idea of ​​what the future should look like,” Marx told Insider in an interview following the publication last month of his book “Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley is wrong about the future of transportation”.

It explains how automakers and Silicon Valley disrupters continue to promote technology as the only solution to city traffic and climate change, in a way that does little to help society, Marx believes.

He argues that switching to an electric Tesla Model 3 might be a lot cleaner than driving a gas-powered car, but its batteries have their own environmental impact and don’t solve the problem of traffic or road deaths – a subject much less addressed.

Flying taxis may look cool and help people get around more efficiently than helicopters, but they will create noise pollution and require complex infrastructure remodeling to make them work.

Marx points out that none of the examples are far from feasible as a mass market solution, but corporations continue to promote them as such for their own benefit, while governments continue to believe them.

This is where Musk in particular was “really pernicious” according to Marx. Thanks to Tesla, Musk is pushing the idea that electric cars are the solution to transporting emissions and that computers should be driving cars rather than humans, he said.

“If we think about what a sustainable transport system looks like, it’s about getting people out of the car all together,” he said.

“Elon Musk’s contribution to this space is partly to tell us that we don’t need better public transit. He even said that public transit is unsafe, inconvenient – that you could be sitting next to a serial killer.”

Musk made the claim at a tech conference in 2017, but later clarified his view, pointing out that while he likes public transportation, it doesn’t completely solve the traffic problems in many large cities. cities.

Uber shows why Silicon Valley can’t be trusted to improve transportation

Paris Marx is an author, podcast host and transport researcher.

Paris Marx is an author, podcast host and transport researcher.

Paris-Marx


Marx began writing about cities and transportation in 2015 and holds a master’s degree in urban geography, with a particular focus on Silicon Valley’s proposals for the future of transportation.

Uber is the case in point for Marx’s argument, whose conversation with Insider comes weeks after the release of the “Uber Files,” a trove of 124,000 documents leaked by a former Uber lobbyist.

The documents show how executives dismissed driver safety concerns, paid academics to write positive studies and blocked potentially incriminating data from law enforcement to circumvent labor laws.

“[Uber executives are] the type of people who would benefit from this type of service, who push it on the public, even though it erodes workers’ rights, worsens traffic in cities and has all these other negative consequences,” Marx said.

One of the reasons tech companies like Tesla and Uber have been so successful in selling these visions is because they pitch technology as the solution, he argues. However, actually realizing the reinvestment in rail systems, better cycling infrastructure, and sustainable transportation that Marx believes is necessary requires political action and commitment.

“People can join organizations to try to pressure governments to make these kinds of changes, instead of just being distracted by Ubers and self-driving vehicles and all the other ideas that the tech industry is giving us. throws that don’t actually solve any problem.”