It’s an idea that’ll make any self-respecting driver’s flesh crawl.
People seem to like this idea. It makes my flesh crawl.
Well, maybe not that extreme. But the idea does depress me.
A big part of what makes driving enjoyable is the freedom and control it gives you, the individual. It is your car and you are in charge of directing its course, of deciding how to get there. You can choose your route and proceed at whatever speed seems reasonable to you. If you like, you can stop for a cup of coffee. Or to admire a scenic view.
You control your destiny. You are a driver.
If cars drive themselves, then you become a passenger. A passive pound of flesh transported by the intelligence of and under the direction of someone (or something) else. You get there when someone else decides you get there. You travel at the speed someone else (or a machine) determines to be the “right” or “safe” speed. There will be no stopping along the way; no taking the scenic route just because.
The only difference between an automated car and taking the bus is that you don’t have some stranger sitting beside you coughing his flu all over your face.
But the essential thing is identical. You have surrendered your autonomy; for the duration of the trip, your fate is out of your control. You are now a member of the Mass. One of Many, another sardine to be fileted and packaged and sent on its way.
How is this appealing?
Oh, I know. It is more efficient. Automated cars can be slotted in tightly, perhaps just inches away from one another — and moved in synchronicity at high speeds, getting us there sooner and faster. More people can be moved more rapidly from A to B.
There will be fewer accidents. More predictability.
And much less joy.
Psychologists (and common sense) tell us that an important part of being human — or at least, an essential part of the human experience — is the exercise of personal mastery over external circumstances. To be able to do what you wish, according to your own lights. To enjoy the satisfaction that comes with learning a skill and exercising that skill. Of being competent.
If you like to drive, you will understand what I mean.
There’s the early thrill of being permitted to climb behind the wheel of a car for the very first time; of learning to shift and work a clutch. For many, this is a big step on the road from teenagerdom to adulthood. It is one of the first “grown-up” things many of us get to do during our adolescence.
Once the basics are down pat, we begin to acquire skills. We get better and better at timing our merges; of learning to judge in our heads just how much room we’ve got to pull into traffic — and how much speed we’ll need to do it properly.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?