The renowned cultural observer and writer shares his views on cities.
Boing Boing guest editor Chris Arkenberg interviews science fiction author and cultural observer Bruce Sterling for his views on the state of modern cities. On the positive aspects of urbanization, Sterling says there’s a lot of innovation going around in urban areas and cities seem to show more political energy even while countries are getting weaker. Sterling also talks about urbanization’s dangerous aspects and believes we need to be more apprehensive of white collar crime in cities with large financial centers, rather than organized crime such as urban warfare and drug mafias.
The obviously dangerous aspect of modern cities is urban organized crime, narcoterror, low-intensity warfare, war in urban terrain, favela shoot-’em-ups, whatever faddish name the trouble has this year. Baghdad, Mogadishu, Grozny.
But I’d also like to point out that large financial centers in certain cities around the planet are certainly going to kill millions of us by destroying our social safety networks in the name of their imaginary financial efficiency. You’re a thousand times more likely to die because of what some urban banker did in 2008 than from what some Afghan-based terrorist did in 2001. Financiers live in small, panicky urban cloisters, severely detached from the rest of mankind. They are living today in rich-guy ghetto cults. They are truly dangerous to our well-being, and they are getting worse and more extremist, not better and more reasonable. You’re not gonna realize this havoc till you see your elderly Mom coughing in an emergency ward, but she’s going there for a reason.
Sterling believes that urban scaling of increasingly growing megacities is not a serious problem as each big city brings its own set of problems. In fact, there are cities that are getting smaller and yet, have problems of their own, such as Detroit. He also shares his views on the influence of urban life on residents, and how people in modern big cities tend to think and act like big-city people anywhere.