April 29, 2013
California has passed a new law allowing “autonomous cars” on the roadways and Audi says it can have an automated car ready for sale by 2015.
Look no further, folks. It has begun. Leprosy, smallpox, malaria… and now the driverless car.
Let me be abundantly clear about why I don’t like the idea of a car with no driver. It’s not the car that worries me. Yes, I’m sure some technofreak out there can build one.
I oppose the fact that human beings are becoming less skilled by the day. “Civilization” has already caused us to lose most basic skills. Truth be told, without matches and grocery stores most of us would be dead within a month, for without these modern crutches we could neither start a fire nor provide our own sustenance.
“You’re overreacting,” some might claim. Perhaps. But let us look at the evidence first.
Your parents memorized the telephone numbers of every family member, every close acquaintance, and most of the places where they conducted daily business.
Can you recite even five phone numbers from memory? Nope. Your smart phone hath rendered thee dumb.
Your grandparents could build their own home, grow their own garden and hunt their own food. Even if they didn’t need to, at least they knew how. They could sew their own clothes, milk their own cows, cut their own wood and, yes… repair their own car.
Your children won’t even be able to drive one.
And what new abilities have we developed to replace all the basic life skills that we’ve lost?
We can use touch screens and recite the Starbucks menu by heart.
Meanwhile, our food magically appears in a box on a grocery store shelf from whence we know not. Our warmth is provided by a giant company that we’ve never actually seen. Our houses are built from pre-fab plans by big corporations using borrowed money printed on worthless paper lent by massive banks run by people whose only appearance to society comes through someone else’s recorded voice on an 800 number.
We no longer work to directly provide for ourselves. Do you realize that? We work to provide for the system in the hopes that the system will then bestow upon us what it deems necessary for our survival.
And it’s not just driving. It’s not just heat or food provisions. It’s the whole idea that human beings simply don’t have to function anymore. We’re becoming zombies.
Once upon a time, the automobile needed me in order to function. Then the car began making more and more of my decisions, each time taking away a bit more of my autonomy and replacing it only with a hard-to-find manual override button somewhere under the dash.
And now, the automobile has finally decided that it doesn’t need me at all. My only contribution to the entire transportation process is financial.
The new driverless automobile will not go any faster than your masters allow and it will not move an inch until your seat belt is buckled like a good little citizen. Roadside cameras will be re-programmed to enforce seat belt compliance and a thousand other petty rules as municipalities scramble to replace millions in lost revenues from speeding tickets.
Saturday night drag races will lose their appeal when competitors can only make faces at each other through the window to spice up competitions that invariably end in a tie.
These fool cars will undoubtedly spy on their own unwitting occupants and come armed with more cameras than a Department of Fatherland Security checkpoint.
They are certain to automatically pull over for police whether you want them to or not, which will make it very difficult to leave the scene of a bank robbery and nigh impossible to find gainful employment as a getaway driver.
No one will ever say "WHEEEEE!!! That corner was great! Let's do it again!"
All of this adds up to no fun whatsoever. A thousand curses upon the driverless car. I still want to live my own life.
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