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How to build a transportation system to provide mobility for all
Road to Nowhere exposes the flaws in Silicon Valley’s vision of the future: ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to take us anywhere; electric cars to make them ‘green’; and automation to ensure transport is cheap and ubiquitous. Such promises are implausible and potentially dangerous.
As Paris Marx shows, these technological visions are a threat to our ideas of what a society should be. Electric cars are not a silver bullet for sustainability, and autonomous vehicles won’t guarantee road safety. There will not be underground tunnels to eliminate traffic congestion, and micromobility services will not replace car travel any sooner than we will see the arrival of the long-awaited flying car.
In response, Marx offers a vision for a more collective way of organizing transportation systems that considers the needs of poor, marginalized, and vulnerable people. The book argues that rethinking mobility can be the first step in a broader reimagining of how we design and live in our future cities. We must create streets that allow for social interaction and conviviality. We need reasons to get out of our cars and to use public means of transit determined by community needs rather than algorithmic control. Such decisions should be guided by the search for quality of life rather than for profit.
About the Author
Paris Marx is a Canadian technology writer whose work has been published by NBC News, CBC News, Jacobin, and Tribune, among many others. Paris is also a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland and the host of the critical technology podcast Tech Won’t Save Us.
“The last decade has been a trainwreck for Silicon Valley’s dreams of mobility. Paris Marx’s invaluable new book explains how and why big tech’s utopian transit projects crashed and burned, why these disasters will keep finding funding if they are not opposed, and what the alternative might look like. The path to a better, more equitable future of transit begins with the Road to Nowhere.”
—Brian Merchant, author of The One Device
“An astute and engaging critique of Silicon Valley’s visions for transportation, Marx highlights the problems of technology being driven by the needs of capital and crafts a compelling vision of a world where technology is instead used to deliver social good.”
—Wendy Liu, author of Abolish Silicon Valley
“A good storyteller and a ruthless critic, Marx shows us how corporate interests created our highly irrational modern-day mobility regime, and how Silicon Valley threatens to summon even stupider transportation futures. If you care about how your body moves through space, you should read this book.”
—Ben Tarnoff, author of Internet for the People
“A vivid and timely reminder of how mobility is political. This book is a persuasive account of the many problems with the tech industry, but also a compelling case for how we can change the physical environment in service of people and the planet.”
—Lizzie O’Shea, author of Future Histories
“Lively summary of the ways Big Tech has distracted us from the urgent task of making our cities work for everyone.”
—Jarrett Walker, author of Human Transit
“A vision I can get behind … Road to Nowhere’s effective dismantling of high-tech narratives is a valuable contribution to contemporary debates. “
—Agustin Ferrari Braun, New Media & Society
“Draws a compelling picture of the evolution of the Western vision of mobility.”
—Konrad Bleyer-Simon, Green European Journal
“I recommend Road to Nowhere not only for what it says about transport, but for its approach to technologies more generally … [it] is far ahead of the depressing pile of texts that put a ‘left’ gloss on techno-optimism”
—Simon Pirani, Ecologist
“I know it is heresy, but electric cars are still cars and they won’t save us. Marx has written a wonderful book that explains why, and is persuasive about that better, more equitable future we could all have if we looked to Main Street instead of Sand Hill Road.”
—Lloyd Alter, Treehugger
“Road to Nowhere is a sharply rendered, compelling, and illuminating text that combines diffuse histories and complex processes into a clear narrative. Marx’s work helps us better understand the past and contemplate the kind of futures we might bring about.”
—Matthew Seidel, Protean Magazine
“As greenhouse gas emissions ramp up, housing prices reach astronomical heights, and we all stay stuck in traffic, Paris Marx’s new book Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation looks at how the quest for market share got us to this point and why visions of the future from California tech billionaires cannot solve these problems.”
—Clement Nocos, Broadbent Institute
“[Road to Nowhere] traces the historical echo between automakers’ takeover of the North American continent and the present monopolistic powers of the tech industry.”
—David A. Banks, Real Life Magazine
“You may find yourself driven to drink by the events recounted in this book, but Marx is a designated driver you can count on.”
—Rob Larson, Jacobin
“Road to Nowhere stands as an intervention into broad discussions about the future of mobility, particularly those currently taking place on the political left.”
—Zachary Loeb, Boundary2
“The most concise, well-reasoned critique of that corner of the tech industry that most directly affects cities: transportation.”
—James Brasuell, Planetizen