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The Self-Propelled Car

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From last week: the self-propelled car is coming.

At first glance this is a no-brainer. I’ve been waiting to hear about this ever since the GPS became standard equipment in our navigational lives. But viewing the comments at the end of the article, you can see it’s not as simple as just outfitting our Fords and VeeDubs with sensory equipment on the fenders and souped up Garmins under the hood. Even if you disregard the one commenter dragging the conversation down to the level of current U.S. politics, you can see there are many who will not want to give up control.

Which seems ludicrous to me. Anybody that has enjoyed an hour’s commute on a train after having also experienced an hour’s commute in a car would be more than happy to give up control. On the train you get to sleep, read, cipher, surf, or do sudoku. In the car you get to drive. If your commute is in Jersey, you also get to swear every five minutes or so.

Admittedly, mass transit in non-urban areas bring visions of waiting half an hour in the driving rain or sleeting snow for a bus. I remember doing that when I was young. When I was young, not every single kid had a car. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. So when I was young I took the bus often, and often I had to wait in the driving rain or sleeting snow. I couldn’t wait to get my own car.

Then I got a job. And a commute. And a car pool, which doesn’t seem much different than the “car sharing” they’re talking about in the article. People are more than happy to car share and give up the control to the driver du jour. It’s a drag when it’s your turn. While everyone else sleeps you have to keep your eye on the radar.

The marketplace will drive this tech as it always does. I imagine at first there will be only a few believers. The cars will be expensive and rare. But once everyone recognizes we no longer need designated drivers when out on the town, everyone will get on board and the price will come down. Eventually driving your own car will be a lost art left to a few hobbyists and maniacs who go in for street racing on weekends. A few pedestrian deaths later and I’m sure even those die hards will cede control to the great AI under the hood.

Sure it will take away precious freedoms, the same type of freedom the no-smoking laws have taken away. You know, the freedom to bestow cancer on friends and loved ones. Effing left-wing, commie progressives. Always taking the fun out of life.

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