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UNBeknownst Episode 21: Josh O’Kane on Sidewalk Labs and “the city Google couldn’t buy” 

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Sep 6, 2022

Category: Podcast , Arts , UNB Saint John , UNB Fredericton

Josh O'Kane (BSc/BA ‘09) is a reporter with The Globe and Mail who has covered the technology sector for much of the past five years. His coverage focuses on the relationships between tech companies and human beings, governments, economies, and each other. His latest book, Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy, investigates the failed effort by Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a future-focused neighbourhood in Toronto, the many institutions that company won over, and the consequences of Big Tech’s push into the physical world. Josh has extensively reported from Berlin, Halifax, Fredericton and Saint John, and is based in Toronto. He got his start on the UNB campuses – he has a science and arts degree from UNB, wrote for the UNBSJ student paper, The Baron, and was editor of The Brunswickan on the Fredericton campus. 

In this episode: 

  • The background and inside scoop behind Sidewalk Labs, and the Toronto city of the future that never happened 
  • An inside look at the controversy 
  • Lessons to be learned: why process and cooperation is hugely important   
  • How Josh was able to build trust to learn the real story 
  • Regulating big tech and what Canada could or should be doing 
  • Josh’s first book on singer/songwriter Joel Plaskett and the “place” connection between his books 

Where to listen: 

Links and resources: 

Thanks to: 

Ouralumni host, Katie Davey 

Music by alumni artist,Beats of Burden 

Our alumniAffinity Partners, TD Insurance, Manulife, and MBNA Mastercard  

To listen to UNBeknownst and for more info on the podcast, the hosts, and how to subscribe to new episode alerts, visit our  website.