Pizza delivery and the future of cities

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal ran a special section on the future of cities, which included a number of mildly interesting pieces. The best two were about walkability and natural disasters. Tucked right in the middle, though, was a half-page piece titled “Pizza Delivery Gears Up for a Driverless Era.” It seems smart cities and driverless cars are going to improve pizza delivery, and testing for that is already underway.

I’ve got nothing against pizza, and if I order it, I’d like it to arrive hot. So in one sense better pizza delivery is… ok.

In another sense, there’s a very real risk that better pizza delivery is about the best thing we get from these technologies. There’s a real risk, as I wrote elsewhere a few years ago, that new technologies will give us “more of the same—not the city of tomorrow but the city of yesterday with the sensors of tomorrow. In the end, Big Data is less likely to deliver on utopian promises and more likely just to help deliver our pizza faster.” Featuring a piece on pizza delivery in the WSJ Future of Cities special may foreshadow exactly that.

(Cf. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash)

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