Unfounded Theories Wrongly Link Maui Wildfires to Smart Cities and Technology Conferences

by Joshua Brown
fokus keyword Maui wildfires

CLAIM: Some are alleging that Maui’s recent wildfires were intentionally caused to further plans to make the island a “smart city.” They point to a conference held in January about transforming Maui into a smart island and another summit next month on using AI to govern the island as evidence.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: This claim is false. The Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences that took place in January was a general gathering on global information technology issues, not about making Maui a “smart island.” Similarly, the upcoming Hawaii Digital Government Summit is not solely focused on AI’s application in Maui but on the broader adaptation of emerging technologies by governments across Hawaii. Moreover, it will be held on Oahu, not Maui.


  • A previous video showing a Louisiana power line explosion is incorrectly linked to Maui’s wildfires.
  • A video displaying green lights over Hawaii from January has no connection to Maui’s recent fires.
  • Pfizer’s CEO has not been arrested by the U.S. Marine Corps.

THE FACTS: As the investigation into Maui’s wildfires continues, online posts are spreading, accusing government officials of planning to clear the island to build a “smart city.”

These conspiracy theories draw on existing fears, particularly among far-right groups, that global organizations such as the UN and the World Economic Forum are plotting to force people into futuristic, restrictive environments known as “smart cities” or “15-minute cities.”

However, these posts misunderstand and misrepresent the true nature of smart cities and 15-minute cities, which are urban design principles aiming to improve community efficiency and sustainability, not limit freedoms.

The referenced conferences are wide-ranging and not exclusively focused on the concepts of smart cities, 15-minute cities, Maui, or even Hawaii. They are platforms for discussing various information technology issues.

Hawaii’s Governor and event organizers have strongly refuted the claims that the fires were intentionally set to clear land for a “smart city” project. The upcoming Hawaii Digital Government Summit is not focused on turning Maui into a city governed by AI, as some have alleged.

Furthermore, the alleged connection between the upcoming summit and Maui is incorrect, as the event is taking place in Honolulu, Oahu. Misinformation is also circulating about a separate program called JumpStartMaui, unrelated to the conferences.

In summary, these conspiracy theories are baseless, and the events and concepts referenced in them are misrepresented and misunderstood.

AP is committed to correcting misinformation that is widely circulating online. This includes collaborating with external organizations and companies to provide accurate context to misleading content. More information about fact-checking at AP can be found [here].

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Maui wildfires

Were the Maui wildfires intentionally caused to promote the development of “smart cities” in Maui?

No, this claim is false. The Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences and the Hawaii Digital Government Summit were not about transforming Maui into a “smart city” or “smart island.” The conferences cover a broad range of information technology issues and are not focused solely on smart cities, Maui, or even Hawaii. There is no credible evidence linking the wildfires to these conferences or a larger plan to build smart cities.

What are the “smart cities” and “15-minute cities” mentioned in the conspiracy theories?

“Smart cities” refer to communities that use new technologies to enhance operations, while “15-minute cities” is a principle of urban design emphasizing compact communities where daily needs are within a 15-minute walk. Neither concept is designed to restrict people’s freedoms, contrary to what the conspiracy theories suggest.

Is the upcoming Hawaii Digital Government Summit focused on using AI to govern Maui?

No, the upcoming Hawaii Digital Government Summit is not specifically focused on using AI on Maui. It’s about how governments across the state can adapt emerging technologies, and it takes place on the island of Oahu, not Maui.

Was a program called JumpStartMaui connected to the two conferences?

No, JumpStartMaui, a six-year joint project between the Japanese and Hawaiian governments, is unrelated to the two conferences. The program ended in 2017 and focused on renewable energy investments like electric vehicle charging stations on Maui.

Is there any evidence to support the conspiracy theories linking the Maui wildfires to global-minded organizations?

No, the conspiracy theories that connect Maui’s wildfires to plans by organizations like the United Nations or the World Economic Forum to force people into futuristic cities are baseless. The posts misrepresent the concepts of “smart cities” and “15-minute cities” and make false assertions about the conferences themselves. Authorities, conference organizers, and experts have refuted these claims.

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Jenny T August 17, 2023 - 11:59 am

why do people make up these stories? it really scares people for no reason at all. appreciate the fact-checking!

Mike_R August 17, 2023 - 9:29 pm

The world is going crazy with these theories. Why woudl anyone think Maui is going to be turned into a smart city? thanks for clearing that up.

Tom Jenson August 17, 2023 - 10:53 pm

cant believe people buy into this stuff, whats the proof? sounds like more conspiracy nonsense to me

Sara K August 17, 2023 - 11:04 pm

i heard about this from my friend and it sounded wild, glad to know it’s all false. its important to get the facts straight.

Robert K. August 18, 2023 - 1:01 am

this is just another example of social media gone awry; people need to think before they post! But hey, thats just the world we live in now.


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