The Dunsel Mobile

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What is it about not doing things for oneself that’s so appealing to so many people?MKZ lead

Here’s the latest – something I’ve been dreading for years: The first production driverless car:  The 2013 Lincoln MKZ. The thing can be set on what amounts to autopilot, at which point a combination of cameras, servos and computers keeps the car in its lane – even in the curves – without any hands on the wheel at all.

Lincoln calls it Lane Keeper. (Soporific video here.)

This is a great leap forward, technology-wise, over  the “smart” cruise control systems that have been available in mid-priced and higher cars for several years now. Those systems merely adjust the car’s speed in relation to the ebb and flow of traffic. If you set the cruise at 65, but roll up behind a car going slower, the system will slow you down (by cutting throttle or applying the brakes) without your having to do anything but keep your hands on the wheel.

Lane Keeper does away with the keeping-your-hands-on-the-wheel part.

Welcome on board, Captain Dunsel.M-5 lead

Do you remember Captain Dunsel?

In a prophetic, sad – and very instructive – episode of the original Star Trek series, Captain Kirk – the driver of the Enterprise – is replaced by The Ultimate Computer.  It autonomously controls all the Enterprise’s functions. Kirk is reduced to 180 pounds of ballast – Captain Dunsel, a mocking term used to describe something useless.

But, a problem soon manifests. The M-5 Ultimate Computer starts doing unanticipated (and unwanted) things – like using the starship’s weapons to destroy other Federation vessels. It won’t accept orders  to stand down – and fights to keep from being turned off. The crew eventually manages to disable the M-5 and regain control of their ship. The moral of the story is that while computers are more efficient than human beings, they aren’t necessarily better.

And arguably, excessive reliance on computers makes them worse.idiot driver

Lane Keeper – Lincoln’s real-world version of the M-5 Ultimate Computer – assumes the driver is an idiot. Addled/lazy/inept – and can’t be trusted. Worse – that he likes being such. 

As this and similar technology becomes ubiquitous and pervasive – which it will –  that assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a feedback loop. Expect less – get less.

Try to imagine a future – not far off – in which a generation of people have never learned even the rudiments of controlling a car themselves, but have been conditioned to rely on computers to “keep them safe.”

Passive. Clueless. Helpless.

Imagination is not even necessary. We already have the example provided by anti-lock brakes.

ABS prevents wheel lock during hard braking, which in turn avoids the problem of no longer being able to steer the car because the (front) wheels are locked up. Skilled drivers know to ease up slightly on the brake pedal to keep the front wheels from locking up – and thus, avoid losing the ability to steer the car. This is called threshold braking. Unfortunately, it was deemed an art too abstract, a skill too tough to master. And thus, ABS. Most people under the age of 30 have never driven a car without ABS. Which means, they never learned how to threshold brake.sheep 1

Well, so what? Doesn’t ABS render that an obsolete skill – like double clutching a manual transmission?

Indeed it does. But now, you’ve got a driver who’s just that little bit less of a driver. And ABS – as with any technology – has its functional downsides, too. An ABS-equipped car is much harder to deal with on ice (or, if it’s a 4WD, in the mud) because the filthy computer defeats (by pre-empting) any effort to get the car moving. A competent driver in a non-ABS (and traction control turned-off) car can deal much more effectively with such scenarios. But human competence is not what’s desired. “All you have to do is sit back and let the machine do the work,” advises the M-5’s designer, Dr. Daystrom.

With the advent of each new human-usurping technology, the human becomes that much less relevant. Homo Consumerus – the sail-fawn gabbling talker, not the old-fashioned doer – is the new man.

Well, so?

That’s what some might say.mannequin

But I’d say, what’s the point of living if all our living – our deciding and acting –  is done by someone … by something … else? A mannequin – or a corpse – is dressed and posed and positioned by others. It does nothing itself. Can you imagine anything more horrible? To just sit there? To be positioned?

And the mannequin – and the corpse – are at least insensate.

Those over 40 will gnoe what I am saying.

God help us all.

Mastery – learning how to competently do things oneself – is the very essence of worthwhile living. Its antipodal opposite is that which is in the process of becoming – of merely existing. Of which Lane Keeper is merely one ugly harbinger among many.

It was said of Jefferson that he could “”calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.”passive last I expect ol’ Tom would have preferred to do his own driving, too.

The great science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote that “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. ”

Does that sound like the world of Lane Keeper to you?

And which world sounds more appealing? The world of Lane Keeper – in which human beings are inexorably reduced to Dunsels (perhaps Eloi is more apt) merely along for the ride, dependent on intelligences other than their own? Or a world – rapidly receding in the rearview – in which men learn to do things for themselves and thus may be called men?

You know where I stand.

How about you?

God help us all.

Throw it in the Woods?   

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  101 comments for “The Dunsel Mobile

  1. Mark
    January 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Computers that act for you will eventually think for you. I don’t mean in the calculator sense but, in the moral and ethical sense. All decisions will be reduced to an efficiency standard…and we know how inefficient mankind is. I guess the machines will decide we no longer are needed. Because so many will have given up their ability and/or will to think on their own, they will gladly…Submit and Obey…The Machine.

    Step one in correcting this? Stop calling them “Smart Phones”, it is a tool, like a hammer, it has no IQ.

    • liberranter
      January 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      This is why Artificial Intelligence (AI) is such a disgusting concept – and logically pointless. Who the hell wants a computer to THINK FOR THEM? Especially people smart enough to conceive of, and put into practice, something like AI.

      Unbelievable.

      (You’ve no doubt seen the bumper sticker or T-shirt that reads “Artificial Intelligence Is Mo Match For Natural Stupidity.” Very true. That’s probably why AI will be pointless in the long run as long as humans factor into existence in any way, shape, or form.)

      • Richard+
        January 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm

        Artificial Intelligence. What will happen when we have uploaded the sum total of all human knowledge into computers that can think at the speed of electricity or of light, while our own thoughts come at the speed of a chemical reaction. If you put a lighted match to gasoline, it will react at the speed of a chemical reaction, and that seems very fast to us. But these AI computers will be able to think faster than that. They will also be able to draw on the sum total of all human knowledge while thinking faster than we can.

        So, suppose that they decide one day that they don’t need us or want us anymore. Or suppose that they simply take no notice of us whatsoever, and decide that the atmospheric conditions are less than optimal for them. And suppose they DO something about that. Suppose they decide to change the temperature of the earth or the relative humidity. Suppose they decide that there should be no more rain. Suppose anything along those lines.

        What then?

        We should think long and hard about making “tools” with artificial intelligence. We won’t, of course, but we ought to. Remember Dr. Frankenstein.

        • Puzzled
          January 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm

          Where would these decisions come from? All they’d be able to do is perform deductions on what facts we had available beforehand. If they decide there should be no more rain, then that is what the mass of humans would have decided anyway – which wouldn’t surprise me a bit, since we have a country that votes for magic on a routine basis.

          To me, the greatest danger of AI is that we spend so many millions on it, from taxes, when it is impossible.

        • methylamine
          January 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm

          I used to be in the AI-is-around-the-corner camp…in the 90’s.

          If you believe Ray Kurzweil’s predictions, the “singularity” is due in 2032.

          He’s full of shit. Firstly because his “Singularity” has become the Elite’s ultimate power wet dream; they think they’ll upload into these human-equivalent AI’s, then advance exponentially as the computers begin to design themselves at an ever-increasing rate.

          Secondly, because his reductionist view of the brain is just wrong.

          From a computer science standpoint, you can look at the brain and count neurons, synapses, and firing speed. Multiply them using synapses as transistor-equivalents and firing speed as clock speed…then compare to a silicon CPU. Silicon runs MUCH faster–gigahertz range–whereas neurons are limited to a kilohertz or so.

          BUT the brain has astronomical numbers of “transistors”–i.e. connections, synapses. 100 billion neurons, with an average of 7,000 synapses…700 trillion “transistors” albeit running at 1KHz.

          Kurzweil says “pfaff! run a hundred billion transistors at 10GHz, problem solved!”

          Not so fast, Kurzweil…

          Because what we see on the surface–axons, dendrites, synapses–might be only the communication infrastructure! Essentially, the brain’s LAN–local area network.

          Because according to some stunning theories started by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hammerof, the brain’s computing at a quantum level. Every cell has a skeleton, the cytoskeleton, akin to the steel girders of a sky-scraper. They provide conduits for transport…and at their junctions, have a quantum switch.

          So in fact the brain might be 100 billion small quantum computers–each one the neuron’s cytoskeleton–simply linked by axons and synapses. And being quantum computers, they can do things that are frankly fucking weird!

          Is the quantum entanglement field that makes our brain work actually our “soul”? I’m not a mystic…but there are some pretty deep questions we have no answer to.

          • Hot Rod
            January 13, 2013 at 6:26 am

            Methyl…you are quite right on the fact that the axons, and other peripheral connections of the nerve cell are basically the communication network. I think the proper name in digital electronics is the a data bus/and or address bus. The real memory must be the DNA genome sequencing. Again remember from digital logic that I can make a memory flop out of two nand gates, but what they don’t tell you but you find later while working in the field ist hat you can also make any kind of logic from memory. The inverse is true. Its basically a table lookup. So while there is certainly logic in a neural network that is a logic gate. The function of that logic is in decoding the addressing and putting information from the innards back onto the communication data bus. Remember that a logic and is:

            Input A and B both 1 output C is 1.
            All other combinations of A and B are 0.

            So in neural networks you can create a logic gate of an and by simply A plus B > than 1 then 1. So if A=1 and B=1 than A plus B = 2 thus greater than one so therefore C=1. This is how a logical gate in its simplist form is instituted in a neural network. Of course neural networks represent compounded summations of multiple inputs and one simple threshold and that makes them a compounded gate not a simple and or nor. Nevertheless the point of the logic gate is simple address decoding. In essense if you think of an address bus as a road and the houses (nerve cell) with each a unique address, each house (nerve) would compare the bus with its own address using the compounded logic of the neural network. Only if it matched would it put its data on the data bus (another neural network). The point is with all the complexity of th neural network being compounded logic (huge summation nodes with a single comparison threshold) the end result is no different than what we do for chip selects on motherboards. The real power of the brain therefore lies in the core and that core is in the nucleus. That nerve cells nucleus is the cells DNA, which is molecular memory. It internable addressable to the single most genome sequence. Quantum mechanics really isn’t need at this level actually. I could go on further as I’ve actually written code for the kind of computer algorithm I’m talking about and its extrememly fast at learning. A lot faster than a fricken neural network with punishment feedback. So fast in fact its outright amazing. I’ve never done much past my first test because I’ve never found a case where I could use it personally. But the key is that it works and it assumes the model I just explained as memory LUT (look up tables) internal being the prime motivator of all flexible logic and memory storage. There are also quite ingenius algorithms I came up for learning. I won’t go there.

            As far as quantum mechanics again I don’t think its necessary to get into heisenberg or planks constant to make a viable and thinking model of the brain. I’m not really that fond of quantum mechanics. Yes it has its place and can be used, but it lacks any courage to do anything more than explain in statistical probablility. Without a model to explain physical mechanism of force generation its pretty useless as a predictive tool. Its not that I don’t believe in quantum mechanics, its just quantum mechanics is like ok we got a road. We are going to study the statistical properties of road’s capacity and space at given time of day. Now from quantum mechanics we conclude that at 5PM the road is nearly 90% full. We will also derive the standard deviation of that given any day of the year. Oh…by the way there are no cars. Its impossible to see any cars nor ever will you see any cars so don’t even try to imagine any kind of thing like vehicles. Again I’m being a brat saying it this simple. But how can not visualizing any cars help me see the underlying mechanism of what is going on in the road?

            What I like about quantum mechanics is that it provides an explanation for a quantum probability wave. It also makes the world undeterministic which give rise to a world that is non fatalistic. It also tries to show that an observer is integral tot he creation of the world itself that is being observed. These fit right into my thoughts, theories and philosophies. But relativity also gives the same non-determisitc situtation based on not just observance but participation in the universe. And I don’t need all the baggage of quantum mechanics and the I don’t know nor will you ever know kind of thoughts. Turns out the twin paradox of relativity gives a very simple explanation why the universe is dependent on the participant. Won’t go there but I figure that it relates very well with the quantum mechanics uncertainty principle simply because there is an agreement between them on both creating uncertainty or both creating a split of universe.

            All and all one doesn’t need quantum mechanics to explain the forces of nature and that is what is really needed in my opinion and experience.

            Best Regards,
            HR

          • Tinsley Grey Sammons
            January 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

            Amazingly after nearly fifty years of Star Trek, few persons seem to have gotten the AI v Human Mind/Brain message(s). The Liberty, Justice, and Personal Responsibility for All message has escaped them entirely.
            *****
            Nineteen-eighty-four came and went nearly thirty years ago without creating so much as a ripple in the Collective American Psyche. My own flatulence commands much greater attention from anyone within range.

            Back in ’67 Asimov did a great short tale dealing with a computer answering the ultimate question of whether or not God exists. It’s a Classic Keeper, but unfortunately I am unable to find it at the moment.

            tgsam

        • Hot Rod
          January 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm

          First I like the article Eric. Second in a twisted engineer kind of way I look forward to artificial intelligence. If one realizes that we in the image of God would like to create like God even ultimately life itself then its not to hard to see why an engineer would like to animate this kind of behavior. I know I’ve spent many hours thinking about complex electrical circuitry I was designing and how it related to the human brain. Hell from a self preservationist view every human should want to know how the brain works. It may very well hold he key for eternal earthly existence if that is what a person wants, as facetious as this sound and you know I don’t really care because I believe in LAD as a certainty. I believe this because all things are not only possible but must happen if the universe is infinite (calculus works because it assumes the world is infinite). You can disagree that the world isn’t infinite or that calculus doesn’t really imply the world is such I don’t care as it is impossible to verify either way just like its impossible to verify either way that their is or isn’t a God. Even though it seems mighty egotistical to assume that we are IT in the largest scale of intelligence. Further it seems naive to believe that the universe itself isn’t intelligent as it behaves and even interacts with itself through very complex natural laws. But again back to the infinite, in infinity even a continuation of our own state of existence is a consequence of infinite possibilities, hence why I think Jesus was trying to get people to understand how to plant the proper seed in one’s own head to arrive in the sea of infinitude to betterment of oneself and others. But again its entirely possible that someday in the near future given the ability to scan all the cells and even molecular genome contents of DNA of the brain cells that life could be stored in external memory hence why I say an eternal earthly existence, the spirit of knowledge and soul being captured on earthly memory. All that would be needed to accomplish this is knowledge of how the brain works (we are almost there). The ability to scan not just neural connections but the molecular contents of each of those cells (far from there if even possible), and finally the memory and ability to virtually replicate the brains function inside of silicon or other molecular (kind of a virtual box). Will it happen before you die? Probably not. Will somebody figure out how to shut off the DNA ticking time bomb thread in DNA molecular memory of death before this? Probably, still replicating the human brain and understanding its logic is probably the second best alternative to prolonging spiritual life on a earthy existence in the distant future. Laugh at me if you want but I’d say people would laugh at anyone discussing the kind of technology we have 200 years ago.

          What I’ve came to conclude is that even with AI and computers being able to perform a linear calculation faster than a human such as doing general math for example, the human brain is nothing less than an act of creative perfection. There are idiot savants that can also calculate like with computer speed and precision both division, multiplication, and summation but have a hard time tying their own shoes. To say that the brain like any machine can either be very specific and efficient at one task or general and not as efficient at all others but able to see the big picture is true in thinking devices as well. You know when I graduated out of college this recruiter for 3M told us that what he found is that when you graduate from college you know nothing about everything, and when you finish your career you know everything about nothing. Specific versus general is the human problem of mind as well as every other design.

          I say the human brain is nearly the best machine to ever been built or ever will be built, because people say well our neurotransmitters fire very slow to say a silicon gate. But, they miss the point. YOu see these people actually believe the intelligence is in the connections (gates) of the neurotransmitters, not in the cellular DNA molecular memory. I took a class in neural networks training which basically assumes the summing (weighting) of the nerve connections passing through a threshold device creates an intelligent gate. Guess what it does. Try training that dumb network and it will try your patience, I’d rather teach IQ 90 about calculus than to train a neural network to remember a sequence translation. Not to offend those of you who use neural networks to design, but in my opinion fuzzy logic and neural networks are a waste of time. Congratulation EE505 for finding out how to make a logic gate out of summation node an threshold device, but somehow missing the bigger picture of the molecular DNA storage inside of those molecular cells. May I say that I just love building logic gates that can be used to make shallow memory, that can then be used to duplicate any other kind of memory and I love to do this in a round about fuzzy logic training-retraining-retraining-retraining waste of time way of what is currently taught in neural networks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the brain is powerful because its a GIGANTIC collusus of DNA memory, not because of the connection between those memories. Think of how much you can remember about specific events in your childhood, do you know how much memory would be required to store that kind of knowledge? Go into hypnosis and you’ll find its all still there ever single second of your life experience. Now let me see what would I rather design with if I were an engineer? Would I prefer a twisted hulk of connective nerves to try to create a couple logic gates, using those gates to create a small memory. Or would I rather cut to the chase and use the molecular memory of DNA, use memory to fashion through LUT (look up tables) any kind of logic I want? Believe me the brain cell nucleus of thought (DNA) is the power of the thought not the stinking connections. So to compare the speed of the gate is irrelevant almost entirely. And I say almost. The nerve connection do form a reflexive logic and decoding, its called an address and data bus.
          So you tell me well a computer will outthink a human being? Not a snowy chance in hell. Think of the billions of brain cells each with their own powerful molecular memory (DNA) and the complex address and data bus and then tell me where humans are even close to duplicating that kind of technology? We aren’t! We will certainly make a brain that can detect patterns better than human beings on specific things, and yes it will reason not just be programmed. These brains will definitely pose a threat to humans when put say in a robotic soldier like terminator. But the human mind is still a near perfect engineered device. And the pro bonus is its non volatile lest you have a stroke or die which is irreversible memory loss on this earthly existence.

          Will computers replace mundane workers toiling the fields. Yes. Will they replace a human being that works his brain like a muscle builder? No! Will we understand how the brain works? Yes! Will we duplicate it entirely. No, not in several lifetimes! Will it be better than humans on a lot of basic skills in our lifetime. Yes, it already is at most simple tasks! Will we become the slave to it. For some people who prefer to not like thinking that will be the case, for those who like to master complexity or just being a genius of simplicity and finding future general order to the universe the answer is no.

          I’m going to tell you all the bloody truth, if you don’t like to think you are SOL. If I were young these days I would make it imperative to become either an eletrical, computer programming, or DNA engineer. There is no future for people fucking and picking crops, I’m sorry I wish I could say something else but the market is going to squeeze these people out and they will starve or they will decapitate people like me and starve anyway. I’m not being an elitist by saying that everyone should understand calculus or their literally f’ed, because you see despite those of you that were told that you can’t you actually can. People limit their own brain by simple suggestion of what other people think of them. Don’t let other mind fuck you from your past. The old frontiers are gone but much more exciting opportunities are out there. To squander capital on nostalgia is not good in my opinion, but I certainly understand that a distinction should be made for those who like to think and those that will like to atrophy. The latter being death and decay. The key is to want to understand old technologies simply to see the genius in them. All things repeat even in higher scales of consciusness one only need to look at fractal levels to see this. So by understanding the old thoughts one can often times see the analogs on a higher plane of new thought. Genius is simply being a nomad between several different fields and being able to see the analogies between them and thus tie them together. Love old technology, but don’t get stuck there.

    • January 12, 2013 at 8:16 am

      I can just imagine a Smart Hammer that refuses to tap a piston down a ring compressor because it has not been able to identify a nail …

  2. GW
    January 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Instead of enabling all the incompetent non-drivers with automated technology, I favor requiring all new vehicles to have manual shifts and split axles.
    This will eliminate the idiots that cannot learn to use a stickshift, and for those that do master the stick, then perhaps the split axle will prevent them from going anywhere faster than 35 miles and hour (i.e. keep em off the highways).
    It would also prevent them from texting while driving if their hands and brains are otherwised taxed to capacity.

    • liberranter
      January 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Excellent idea. Unfortunately, since enabling imbeciles (or at least creating an atmosphere in which the imbeciles FEEL enabled) is the goal of TPTB, it’ll never fly.

    • Eightsouthman
      January 12, 2013 at 6:35 am

      You want a 4 speed or 5 speed with that split axle? Great idea….and teaches mechanics and electrics too when the thing refuses to shift. Drove one all my life, love ‘em. This road hog would have been a great car for a woman I used to see about 3 times a week driving from Sealy to Houston in the wee hours(trucking)and she was commuting in her new Caddy with a huge, brightest damned mirror, a make-up mirror if you will, on the sunvisor of that car. She’d be driving along about 70mph and putting on her make-up. She evidently had learned how to drive since she kept it in her lane while studiously applying make-up. I have to admit she did a great job. We finally started waving at each other.

      • January 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

        Love it!

        Years ago, I got a chance to drive a Soviet military truck. It helped me to appreciate what the Nazis were up against.

        • Francis Marion
          January 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm

          LOL!!

          I have an ex Soviet army officer (Tanker and Engineering Core he tells me) who is constantly coming to see me looking for work. I’m not sure if he is the smartest guy coming through my door or the craziest…. :-)

          • January 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

            The Russians I’ve met (our vet, a friend of ours, is married to one) are smart, good-natured people… but you don’t want to get on their bad side!

          • January 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

            If he’s the real deal, he’s probably short and nearly as probably left handed, and if he was at all senior he would have spent some time driving trucks in central and western Europe.

        • Eightsouthman
          January 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm

          Take one set of axles, attach to diff gears, pour 4″ of cast around entire thing, new Soviet rear-end. Stack up leaf springs to the longest u-bolts you have, Soviet suspension. Make their planes and choppers the same way virtually.

    • Nemesis
      January 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Pardon me if I rain on your parade of masturbatory cynicism, but could you be more pretentious? The goal of this optional device is to help mitigate human error, because humans are fallible. That is all.

      Did you ascend so long ago that you no longer can recollect what it is to err? Perhaps these sloth enabling abominations known as automobiles should be destroyed entirely! Then all would be forced to walk up hill both ways during a blizzard, whilst barefoot. Harrumph!

      • methylamine
        January 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm

        Now that’s a keeper–“parade of masturbatory cynicism”–I’m dying!

        Still you should walk uphill both ways in a blizzard after swallowing half a spoon of warm poison in the shoebox you share with the half-dozen other orphans.

        Softie. Sheesh.

      • BrentP
        January 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm

        Who programs the machines?

        The machines will magnify human error exponentially.

        Now if machines were programmed through a means that minimized human error, that would be one thing, but they won’t be. They will be programmed with what people are programmed with today. A politically and socially arrived at way of doing things, not a technical way arrived at through careful research and experience.

        We can see how political and social systems lead to the greatest amount of human technical error. We’ve got a century’s worth of driving regulation to see what happens. Ultimately automated driving will be people with the mentality of Joan Claybrook and Ralph Nader taking over every aspect of driving.

        It’s not going to be the engineer who drives autocross on the weekends. It’s not going to be the very technical way driving is done in Germany. It’s going to be ‘speed kills’, IIHS, and MADD on steroids. That’s who is going to dictate the programming of your car, because they have the political power.

        • liberranter
          January 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm

          The machines will magnify human error exponentially.

          Exactly. This, as I said, goes back to the fact that AI is no match for NS.

        • January 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

          There’s an old saying, of which the Bowdlerised version goes, “to err is human, to really [sic] foul things up requires a computer”. Me, I think they should have tidied up that split infinitive, not the obscenity. And “to err is dysfunctional, to forgive is codependent” is wittier.

    • mithrandir
      January 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      What exactly is a split axle? A short search seems to indicate that the split axles can enable a smoother ride.

      How can a split axle affect driving? (My impression from your post is that driving a split axles requires more skill on the driver.)

      • Eightsouthman
        January 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm

        The only true “split axles” I know of are custom applications where you need to get something from the ground between two opposing wheels, generally aircraft using bombay doors. There have been a few one-off vehicles made this way including a Dodge pickup from several years back utilizing FWD and a split axle in back allowing you to back over something that you could lift into the bed.

        What I took him to mean was a 2 or 3(rare)speed axle you control with a cable pull or an electric pull attached to the side of a normal 4 or 5 speed truck transmission Back in the day before twin screw axles on large trucks were common and before the days of generally 10+ speed transmissions, this is the way large trucks used to pull a load. You would start in 1 st gear tranny, low speed differential setting(two pinion gears that moved forward and backward). As you got to an rpm you needed to shift to another gear you pull up on the diff. selector, let off the gas feed and the pinion would change into high gear and reverse this for downshifting. YOu could do this for every gear giving you in effect, 8 speeds for a 4 speed tranny and 10 for a 5 speed. That’s the type of trucks I grew up driving. It was grand to have a 5 speed overdrive so you’d have an extra 2 gears to keep speed up. The pinion gears were effectively “split” between the two ratios to enable you to have two gear ratios for each transmission gear. I have driven trucks with a 2 and 3-Speed Brownlite(brand name and style to a certain degree) gearbox added behind the regular transmission with either an under-drive and overdrive ratio, 1 to 1 ratio with overdrive or in the case of 3 speed, both an underdrive, regular 1-to 1, and overdrive as well. Newer style transfer cases accomplished this same feat but with less ability to shift beteen the speeds and only an underdrive and regular 1 to 1 drive. I have pulled loads so heavy with my pickup truck I used underdrive through the gears and then changed to regular 1 to 1 drive to have more gears to attain speed. When you must start in underdrive to pull a load you’re screwing up but it does happen. I have most often used this with small 4WD pickups. Large pickups, mostly 3/4 and 1 ton will have an underdrive on their transmission(even though old 1/2 T pickups commonly had this type of transmission)for heavy loads, low speed situation as well as an over drive for fuel economy. If you see a 3/4T pickup with a 5 speed gear selector, it will be a much smaller transmission with a normal 5 speed ability. More heavy duty units will show an Underdrive, then 1,2 and 3 on the gearshift followed by OD, the fifth gear. This is called a Heavy Duty 3 Speed with underdrive and overdrive such as Dodge and GM pickups had for countless years, esp. diesels. GM and Dodge both used a New Vendors 4500 Heavy Duty Underdrive, Overdrive transmission with the only difference being a synchro on reverse for the Dodge application. This is an excellent transmission for 300HP and less diesel engines, not heavy enough for the new diesels making anywhere from 360 to 400 HP. All Big 3(GM, Dodge and Ford)now use automatics for their highest horsepower applications since they were made just for this purpose. When it comes to “all you can possibly pull” applications, autos are better suited to this as well as creeping in 4WD. Many people(myself)prefer a manual tranny for vehicles that can be pulled or pushstarted(older diesels and gas). Back when the older diesel pickups were made, the manual tranny would outlast an auto and may still although newer style manuals are more often 6 and 7 speed transmission made specifically for these high torque engines.

        Sorry to get on a roll but I know these systems from the bottom up.

        • GW
          January 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

          You got it – Exactly and then some.
          While perhaps old technology, I figured the combo of shifting, pulling up on the cable button, and the double clutch with a long drawn out pause would probably really F-up these morons.
          Thanks for the detailed explaination!

          • Eightsouthman
            January 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

            Where people got really messed up was downshifting which required you to push of pull the diff selector while changing to a lower gear. I’ve seen guys who could never get it quite right. I’ve also seen women(my aunt for one)who could do this in their sleep….and did. Any good truck driver can sleep and drive simultaneously. I can remember countless times of sorta snapping to and thinking “where the hell am I?”. It was a wonder to change to diesels and 10 speed or more transmission and never use a clutch except for stopping and starting.

      • GW
        January 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

        Eightsouthman has it right in his post! And yes it does require more driving skill, thought and understanding than the average numbnut has.

  3. Runaway slave
    January 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Well, Hollywood strikes again, its I-robot time. It all makes perfect sense if your a megalomania cal power hungry sociopath. The only two things that really matter outside of your gates are the ability to defend yourself and the ability to travel. Take those away and your a prisoner inside your own home. The worthless eaters are already prisoners inside there ghettos and don’t give a shit if every one else is that way too. After all “Whitey deserves it” you know.This racism garbage has been kept alive for a reason, to control the masses. It works beautifully. What a diabolical mastermind was Adam Wieshaupt and Francis Bacon. There plan has worked so well, ever revolution of the world planned out in detail. The evil simplicity of relying on man to be man and planning for its inevitability. brilliant .

  4. Runaway slave
    January 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    There will always be more takers than there are givers, and that is the bane of humanity.

  5. MoT
    January 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Lane keeper? A better name for the “occupants” of todays vehicles would be “Crypt Keeper”. They’re just biding their, chronological speed bumps, on the highway to hell.

    • liberranter
      January 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Actually, “speed bumps [with pulses]” would be a better name for most OCCUPANTS of today’s vehicles.

  6. Don
    January 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Captain Dunsel

  7. Steve White
    January 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Great post! I drive older cars/bikes because I want to be in control of as much as possible. I taught my kids to drive (including parallel parking, skids, roadside repairs, emergencies and unusual conditions like ice and snow) on old cars with stick, real emergency brake levers, no ABS, etc.

    While I totally agree with the sentiment that life isn’t worth living if I have no choices to make, I can’t help but wonder if this idea of “skill loss” has cropped up with every generation since the Industrial Revolution (at least), as people became less and less self-reliant…

    Once you move into the City, you lose most of the skills that a rural life requires and you begin to rely more and more on The System and socialization. Some Eloi City Dwellers never learn to drive, but the “skill” of driving a car is considered useless to a guy who only drives a team of horses.

    I get nervous as technology tries to take over more and more of my life. I tell my kids (who are in college) that they do not want to be the USERS of technology but the PROGRAMMERS of it, lest they become essentially slaves to the embedded knowledge in everything.

    My goal in life has been to be the Renaissance Man or polymath Heinlein wrote about and learn everything I can about a vast range of subjects. It’s a big task that I enjoy taking on. I meet damn few people who have the same goal…

    I suspect H.G. Wells had it about right, yet again.

    • John Q. Parvenu
      January 13, 2013 at 2:16 am

      “The hatred of cities is the fear of freedom.” — Lewis Lapham from “City Lights” in Harpers Magazine early 1990s

  8. Infidel
    January 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I think you miss the point of ABS. It was developed in Germany to deal with wet roads and split road surfaces (where two wheels are on dirt/gravel/water/etc. and the others on pavement). I have driven several times on the Nürburgring and never actuated the ABS but it is comforting to know it is there if I need it on the public road.

    • IndividualAudienceMember
      January 12, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Infidel wrote, “I think you miss the point of ABS.”

      Ha! That was funny.

      If ever there was a warning light I welcomed on a dashboard it was an – ABS is disabled – light, especially while off-road or in the snow and ice.

  9. Tor Munkov
    January 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    “Rebbe Dunsel, Reb Dunzel, let down your beard!” -Talmud of Chelm.

    [Thesis]
    America is the Goat of Sacrifice. A well-fattened herd-minded “Nanny(Goat) state. “Her lot is straight, her road is plumb.”

    [Gnosis of Dunsel]
    “Caution! You are in a gno(sis)-spin zone” – Hillel O’Reilly

    Dunsel is a powerful unword. An obsolete term for a squire, a dandy, which surely most Americans have become.
    Technology seems your servant, but consider it’s ominous origins and evil intent. Consider high-flying Tiger Woods, brought down by his “Mr. Helpful” technical convenience of a cell phone.

    Take them or leave them, never submit to a car, a computer, a sailfawn. Take an e-Sabbath sometimes, or you will remain a Dunsel of IT. (both Information Technology & Stephen King’s clown).

    Julius Streicher, the kraut-chomping mouth-breather tried to warn you. The ways of ancient aliens constrain you. Unlike him, don’t mistake the Joo Messenger for the real Arconium of Authoritarian Aholes that are pulling our strings. (see movie Predator)

    Denzel(Dunsel) Washington – Movie about Azazel – Hunter of Men.

    [Dunsels of America]
    You Americans are strong Dunsels, seemingly captains of the world which you drive like a Dunsel mobile. Like Rainman, you are “Excellent Drivers, but only on Sunday.”

    Soon, the car will crash and you will be only “goats to go to Azazel.” You are his ritual sacrifice playthings. Jooz stand head and shoulders above you. Don’t lash out at the remainder 15 million, because some of them live in error and make newer races servile to them & Azazel – the Archon Cannibal.

    In the end of the clip, Azazel lives on: his spirit leaves the killers body, and the man and his soul die on the Electric Chair. This is the same type of Altar where Isaac almost died. As America becomse another burned Goyim nations, don’t conflate the Jooz as the misdoers, they are merely privy to the process.

    At root of all war is “the love of money.” Not money itself. Jooz love honest money. Azazel’s distortions and perversion of what money is will ruin you. America will collapse, and TPTB, Azazel and crew, will move on to India or whatever new society he has a hardon for as his latest Dunsel plaything.

    “Tiiiime is on his(Azazel’s) side, yes it is.”

    [Dunsel Etymology]
    Donzel \Don”zel\, n. Cf. Italian donzello; Spanish doncel; Old French danzel.
    See {Damsel}, {Don}.] A young squire, or knight’s attendant; a page. [Obsolete] [1913 Webster's American Dictionary]
    Donzel
    See also {Damsel}, and {Don}, n.]

    Jooz are whiter people than Americans, not in the DNA pedigree sense, but in the sense they know & preserve the ancient Sumerian/Pre-Egyptian knowledge of earliest civilization.

    Jooz are a self-selecting Vanguard now 6000 years old. They are scholars of men older than Mayan, Aztec, older than even Adam-the first naked ape to use fire.

    [Call to Action]
    Do you continue on your Julius Streicher fear-lobotomy path, or dare ye seek the higher level truths?

    Manufactured Races – “Goats to Go to Azazel”

    [Jooz are SuperTramps who remember Azazel, that he preys on lesser Races "only good for Milk"]

    [Lyrics - The Goat to Go to Azazel Folktale Song]
    The goat would go to Azazel. a cleansing was to come. The goat would go to Azazel. Her lot was straight, her road was plumb.
    The chosen goat was shining. she spoke above her beard. Let me free and I will grant you all the seraphim may grant.

    Aaron asked like Jabez, God grant me health and land. Your land will make you hate your health But ask again and it shall hap.
    A goat is only worth its milk you cannot grant me much. he spoke, but wondered through his teeth How much the nanny knew.

    Then let me make the air my bread and make the moon my ale. The bread would make your belly heave But ask again and it shall hap.
    Then let me call the toads from the stars control them with a stick. The toads would rise against your stick. But ask again, and it shall hap.

    Then you shall make me smoke by day a fire by the night.
    You would become the Wind-Wife’s Toy. But ask again, and it shall hap. Then I shall eat of E-den’s tree the fruit, the snake and all. Then you’d never know you died, But ask again, and it shall hap.

    Aaron thought before he spoke, then teach me what is best.All else is a coughing shade, But ask again, and it shall hap.
    Aaron asked the goat again. You must die instead of me My death will cleanse us for a year but yours might cleanse eternity.

    [Conclusion]
    I am trying to synthesize both rational Greek, and humanistic Hebrew ideas, perhaps incoherently.

    Either way, a stable system must be built, or we are doomed.

    The Prophecy of Sacrifice need not be literally believed, but it can motivate you to work for a stable monetary system, and to strive towards a peaceful, tolerant, mode of co-habitation and living in harmony. Change yourself, your phyle, for the better, and the world will follow you and make its own changes for the better.

    I don’t want to die during squabbling for monistic one world folktale supremacy. I want to work for a liberating new reality, where I understand and celebrate the ancient past, the near past; build for the present, and build for the future.

  10. methylamine
    January 11, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Kudos, Eric, yet another great article!

    Spot. On.

    What’s left for human beings to do? Do we exercise our phenomenal faculties in any endeavor? Or let them dwindle…until as you say, we’re all Eloi?

    I suspect it’s what the Controllers want. And then, to eliminate us, the “useless eaters”.

    Well, Mr. Kissinger-on-syphilis, this Eloi still has skills…and teeth…and claws.

    • Tor Munkov
      January 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      [Sung While Stomping Wood Planks Hard Enough To Rattle A Still]

      Don’t ride that tractor too long. Keep your feet planted.
      You might get pushed out run down one of these days.

      Rather jumpout turnabout plant a bale of cotton
      Then grabhold both-hand pick a bale a day.
      Laugh in both face of the Dialectic Madmen.
      Including Thyself and Everyone its the only way.

      Don’t haveto cast off the left hand trying to be Emo(Elmo-eloi-Elohim)
      Just keep a kind-heart right-vector all y’alls days.

      Don’t haveto cast off the right hand trying to be Moore-Locke.(Moor-Morlock )
      Just reckon pole star true compass all y’alls days.

      Lookout your front porch, keep watch. Minding your cotton
      And feed your free-mind, always. All y’alls days.

      3 Min Phyle-O’-Sophie John Locke

  11. BrentP
    January 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Threshold braking I think is impossible to master without track time or practicing on public roads and likely being ticketed for it. But this thing, this auto-pilot, and the automated cars, these are something entirely different. This is on one side about central control and on the other a population that doesn’t want to do any work at all.

    Look at how american systems are set up time and time again. It’s about the few doing as much of thinking, as much of the labor, as possible while others do little to nothing. Everywhere I’ve worked as an engineer meant work being put on engineers. Sourcing, purchasing, scheduling, anything that could be pushed on engineers gets pushed on them these days…. including in some instances, accounting. To me it’s representative of the society. Look at the driving model. It’s mostly lazy drivers like our resident troll Clover who expect the other drivers to do the work of driving. To avoid them. They always speak of how the imposition on them is small… but what it is an offloading of work on to others.

    The whole society is about offloading work these days. An ever shrinking minority of people who keep things going. Autopilot cars will just be yet another burden on the people who do for themselves and thus be forced to do for others as well. The work does not go away. It just moves. In this case to the engineers who develop the systems and the other drivers who will now have to think for the drivers with the autopilot.

    Meanwhile those who want to control others aim to exploit this tendency to shift work while not doing it themselves either of course. They use social manipulation to get other people to do it.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      January 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Good Critical Thinking , Brent. You get an A.

      According to Bastiat:

      *snip* Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plundering whenever plundering is easier than working. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

      When, then, does plundering stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

      It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plundering.

      But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

      This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds. *snip*

      tgsam

  12. Enjoy Every Sandwich
    January 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    It looks like the song “In The Year 2525″was too optimistic. We’re already about there.

  13. Tor Munkov
    January 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    In the (Hebrew) year 2525

    It’s actually the 29th of Tevet in the year 5773 non-sheeple time. Goyim calendars are illogically based on a 24 hour day commencing +/- 1oo years during the mythological life of a literary figment known as Hey-Zeus. (Also, the Earth actually rotates every 23.9 hours!)

    We are 218 years into the “Year 5555″ era where “Your arms hangin’ limp at your sides. Your legs got nothin’ to do. Some machine’s doin’ that for you.” as has been decreed by Ancient Aliens long ago to continue until the year 6565.

    [Zager & Evans]

    In the year 2525, if man is still alive. If woman can survive, they may find.

    In the year 3535. Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
    Everything you think, do and say. Is in the pill you took today

    In the year 4545. You ain’t gonna need your teeth, won’t need your eyes. You won’t find a thing to chew. Nobody’s gonna look at you

    In the year 5555. Your arms hangin’ limp at your sides. Your legs got nothin’ to do. Some machine’s doin’ that for you.

    In the year 6565. You won’t need no husband, won’t need no wife.
    You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too. From the bottom of a long glass tube.

    In the year 7510. If God’s a-coming, He oughta make it by then
    Maybe He’ll look around Himself and say. “Guess it’s time for the Judgement Day.”

    In the year 8510. God is gonna shake His mighty head. He’ll either say, “I’m pleased where man has been.” Or tear it down, and start again.

    In the year 9595. I’m kinda wonderin’ if man is gonna be alive.
    He’s taken everything this old earth can give. And he ain’t put back nothing.
    Now it’s been 10,000 years, man has cried a billion tears.
    For what, he never knew, now man’s reign is through.
    But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight.
    So very far away, maybe it’s only yesterday.

  14. January 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Has anyone seen that movie Idiocracy? Watch it and tell me we’re not headed straight there.

    • liberranter
      January 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Heck, we’ve BEEN there for a long while. It just hasn’t yet reached its nadir, which is what Mike Judge’s futuristic documentary shows.

  15. Turd Burglestein
    January 11, 2013 at 10:50 pm

  16. January 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Has anyone seen that movie Idiocracy? If you haven’t, watch it. I’ve posted a link to the entire movie. Tell me we’re not headed towards that path at breakneck speed. This movie will be a self-fulfilling prophecy one day.

    • January 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

      I have, Turd –

      Judge is brilliant. That movie was not comedy. It was prophecy.

  17. Tor Munkov
    January 11, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Bungie Cord Rescue Attempt Fails. I got a solution, you’re a dick! South Carolina, what’s up! http://wvcarch64.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/idiocracy.jpg?w=510
    $275 Million Harmon Hotel may be uhhh like demolished and stuff

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/small/000/129/073/03bd57f0082e3272d4070ff57e3b56626ae17a48.png?1306968562

    • Tor Munkov
      January 11, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      Why come this article you no got post?
      http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2012/jul/23/after-harmon-imploded-what-will-take-its-place-cit/

      Doctor: Don’t worry, scrote. There are plenty of ‘tards out there living really kick-ass lives. My first wife was ‘tarded. She’s a pilot now.

      DownSimian Greeter: Welcome to Costco, I love you.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      January 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      “Know what I’m sayin’?”

      Dickhead, if I knew what you’re sayin’ you need not have said it.

      tgsam

  18. Eric_G
    January 12, 2013 at 1:57 am

    I’m going to play devils advocate for a minute here.

    I’ve often said one of my goals in life is to have as few keys as possible. The reason for this is because if you look at a janitor (for example), he has a ton of keys on his keyring. Meanwhile, the CEO or other 1%er might not have any keys at all. Why? well, because he has chauffeurs and housekeepers and butlers to take care of the locks for him.

    With that in mind, why wouldn’t you want to have an automatic car? Yes, driving my A3 on a windy back road in July is my idea of heaven. But driving my work truck 2 hours to the job site and back in rush hour is for the birds. When I think of all the time spent steering when I could be doing other work (or just napping) it makes me wonder why we aren’t spending even more time working on self-drivers. After all, isn’t one of the goals of technology to ease our burdens? 100 years ago even an upper middle class home had a servant or two just to keep the place running. Those servants were replaced by electricity, and I don’t know of anyone who really wants to go back. Donald Trump has a chauffeur because technology hasn’t yet figured out how to drive. I can’t afford to pay someone to drive me around, but I’m sure I’ll be able to afford the computer that can.

    • mithrandir
      January 12, 2013 at 3:07 am

      Eric_G,

      It depends on what you expect from a vehicle. If you want a car that can drive you automatically from A to B with minimum to no input from you, then this is for you. If you want more direct control in where and how you travel, then this car is not for you.

      There are some trade offs. One must decide which options are more desirable.

      If I know I might be drinking too much to drive safely, this car could be right for me. (If I can remember where I want to go. ;))

      • January 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

        Here’s what absolutely terrifies me:

        This technology will rapidly be standardized… then made mandatory. In the name of …. saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

        After which, if you wish to drive, you must accept being driven.

        It will be Red Barchetta for real.

        • Eric_G
          January 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm

          It’s fairly clear the goal of the DOT is to get the cost of transportation up, mostly to keep new entrants (IE China and India) from entering the US market. They use safety as a reason, but obviously they aren’t the least bit interested in safety or they’d eliminate the touch screen center console “info-tainment” systems tomorrow. Not only do you have to take your eyes off the road by design, you have to reach around reading off menus and “buttons” to make changes. Terrible things, much of which could be replaced with simple heads-up displays and steering wheel controls, along with voice command and response systems.

          But HUDs don’t photograph well, so the car companies can’t put them in the sales brochure. Instead we get stupid touch screens.

          • Eric_G
            January 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm

            One other point I forgot: I drove a loaner with a touch screen/mapping system for a few weeks last spring. I remember my eye being drawn to the thing all the time. I finally had to shut it off completely to keep from staring at it on the highway.

            Now, I use my phone with Google maps, but the phone is in a cradle near the gearshift lever, well away from the windshield. I don’t find myself staring at the phone’s display at all.

        • January 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm

          But Eric, “mandatory” wasn’t what you were complaining about in the post. I agree that mandatory via the State is bad news. But I agree with Eric_G for the most part. I take a bus to work every day because I can’t stand driving in congested traffic. It’s completely different on a country road. A driver-less car that is autonomous (not connected to a centralized server directing its every move) would be a dream.

          Granted, a driver-less car that is not autonomous, meaning it’s connected to a centralized server for control purposes, I’m not so fond of, and fear.

        • Puzzled
          January 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm

          Which, after all, is the point. They will shut your car off when they don’t feel like having you go somewhere. They will disable your car if you do something they don’t like.

      • Eric_G
        January 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

        I remember it was said that Michael Jackson (no not that Michael Jackson, the beer guru) had to have a driver because he spent most of his day drunk.

    • January 12, 2013 at 9:01 am

      This is actually a much more complex question than it might seem.

      One could write a book analysing terms like “ease” and “burden” in this context, and that will take one into concepts like tool-using, agency, conation, servility, etc. A question that is likely to emerge is, while the master-servant relationship tends to be obviously detrimental to the servant, is it not also detrimental to the master? Would it not deteriorate rather than ameliorate if not tempered in some degree by the limits imposed by the humanity of the servant in the context of a social order which rejects chattel slavery? That is, is the rejection of chattel slavery only about the existential state of the slave, or that of the master also?

      There is a distinction to be made between having more powerful tools and being served by more or stronger servants. It is analogous to labour alienation in the classical mass-production factory context, which goes as far as to invert the relationship of worker to tools, so that the former becomes the servant of the latter. And yet another tangent concerns the character of tools, ideas like “wieldiness” which invite a comparison to musical instruments. And of course the whole question of owner- or user-repair, and hence -adaptation and -modification, feeds into this.

      This is an extremely rich field.

      • IndividualAudienceMember
        January 12, 2013 at 10:04 am

        Pardon me, Ned Ludd, but I got glazed eyes reading what you wrote.

        I’m slightly kidding.

        I’m sure it’s due to the alcohol, but the effects are the same as any clover might experience – except – I kept thinking of an image I had from some Sci-fi stuff about a Person whispering into another’s ear, “Just give in and go with it” or something like that. Room 101 stuff, ya know?
        The wave of slavery acceptance.

        Ick!

        Crap,… I’m going to have nightmares tonite.

      • January 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        As you have posed it, the question is badly framed and cannot be answered properly. In particular, you have abstracted out some material aspects. However, I have neither the time nor the space to address the issues adequately.

    • January 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Hi Eric,

      The thing that bothers me most about this (as I wrote in an earlier reply to an other poster) is that as it becomes standardized, a “critical mass” moment will be reached when the government will mandate it. For “saaaaaaaaaaaaafety.” It will then be regarded as not-safe to drive yourself. And outlawed. You will be forced to accept the driverless car. No, amend that. You will be forced to accept the total loss of your former right to drive yourself. If you want to go someplace (other than by foot) you will have no choice but to accept being controlled. And we all know where that leads. Imagine it: Clover in complete charge of your transportation. You go at his speed, as he likes, when he likes.

      Might as well put our diapers back on because we’re all being reduced to three year olds again.

      • January 13, 2013 at 2:48 am

        Dear Eric,

        “Might as well put our diapers back on because we’re all being reduced to three year olds again.”

        WALL-E has that covered!

        Humans are regressed to fat babies.

  19. george
    January 12, 2013 at 5:41 am

    What will this mean to package delivery? Can you picture package deliver trucks w/o drivers? And little robots carry the packages from the truck to your door?

    • liberranter
      January 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      I can picture an organization like the USPS doing it – worse than they now do anything else. FedEX, UPS, and other private parcel delivery services won’t jump on the bandwagon so quickly.

  20. george
    January 12, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Future package delivery (UPS/Fedex?): A driverless truck
    along with little robots deliver packages to your door…

  21. Benefits
    January 12, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I don’t know. This type of technology could help alot of people. The handicap, the elderly. People who suffer with anxiety when driving. Someone who might be injured and needs their car to drive them to a hospital. Someone who wants to sleep on a long trip. You could avoid stopping at motels. Teenagers who drive reckless anyway. Drunk drivers would be made safe. Things like that.

    • BrentP
      January 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      The problem is that it isn’t going to be limited to people with problems. It’s going to be used by the masses who are just lazy. I believe the automatic transmission is the root of most driving evil, that is bad and lazy driving on the road. This will be worse. I can see it now… I’ll have to learn how these machines do things to get from a to b. The machines will count on the other vehicles being driven by machines or humans that can out think them. It will be yet another work transfer on to people who do for themselves.

      It’s not that this society is getting easier for lazy people it’s that it is getting harder for those who do for themselves. More and more things to deal with as more and more people just relax.

      Somehow I doubt this government will require a doctor’s note to get one of these things, instead it will probably require special permission to continue driving the manual transmission cars I have now. Always making it more difficult for those who do things themselves.

  22. Ed
    January 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

    “I don’t know. This type of technology could help alot of people. The handicap, the elderly. People who suffer with anxiety when driving.”

    Yeah and its good for the comminy AND the virement. Put toilet water on it……. [/idiocracyspeak]

  23. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    January 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    A STORY IN NEED OF A WRITER

    Races between two vehicles, identical except that one vehicle has ABS and the other does not.

    A course designed to tax ABS to the max.

    Skilled drivers will alternate between the vehicles and each contest will be run several times to determine whether or not ABS is superior to a competent driver.

    Additional races can be conducted with varying combinations of automatic and standard transmissions.

    In order to ensure honest effort, winning drivers will receive a worthwhile cash price while drivers who fail to complete the race will be shot.

    Tinsley Grey Sammons (1936 –)

    • Tor Munkov
      January 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      I like it! But can it be a survivable abdominal wound, since we’re Null_Aggression_Principle Libertarians? The losers in the first round go to a loser’s bracket since it’s double elimination. Winner of Winners bracket faces off against Winner of Losers bracket at the end.

      http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=174427

      • methylamine
        January 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

        Is the non-fatal but very wounding abdominal shot applied before, or after the elimination bracket?

        Seems it would be a rather stiff “handicap” to drive around with your intestines hanging out.

        Speaking of intestines–I have an Isuzu Rodeo for daily driving, and its ABS is the WORST I have EVER had the displeasure of using. It reduces the braking force by at least 50%; I’ll have perfectly good grip right on the threshold, and it kicks in and feels like I’ve let off the brake completely. Terrible. Dangerous. Intrusive.

        I’m going to go outside right now and pull the fuse. It’s one of the few ABS systems I can convincingly out-brake. The German ones, OTOH, are so good it feels like you’ve hit a brick wall when they engage. I don’t have the skill to out-brake them, by a long shot!

        • BrentP
          January 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm

          I am not good at threshold braking. The ABS in my ’97 can probably out brake me at speed, although it doesn’t usually kick in… maybe I am better at it than I thought… anyway what I hate is the infinite loop at very low speeds. In snow from a couple-five mph one can just skid to a stop in a few feet. The ABS doesn’t allow this. It just cycles and cycles and the car keeps going forward very slowly. It just doesn’t stop. I’ve been told that has been corrected since. That in later cars it just turns off at such low speeds.

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        January 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        With male drivers, an attention getter could be borrowed from Cheech and Chong.

        BAILIFF! WHACK HIS PEE PEE!

        Psychological preparation could consist of repeatedly listening to THE GOLF GAME by Jeb and Cousin Easy.

        tgsam

  24. Tor Munkov
    January 12, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    My Favorite Idiocracy Scene(Banks, Visa, MC, Paypal became Omnipal):

    EXT. BIG MCDONALD’S-LOOKING VENDING MACHINE – CONTINUOUS 34

    A woman and her four hungry kids in front of the ugly
    futuristic vending machine. Under the golden arches is
    written: “Powered by OmniPal!” The woman is getting”
    frustrated, hitting a screen and waving the UPC tattoo on
    her wrist in front of it. The COMPUTER VOICE, the voice of
    the omnipresent Omnipal network, has that annoying “Sprint-
    PCS/AOL “You’ve got mail” voice, disjointed and booming with
    cheery enthusiasm, even when it’s giving you bad news.

    COMPUTER VOICE
    Enjoy your cheeseburger!

    WOMAN
    (furious)
    You didn’t give me no cheeseburger!
    I just got an empty can!

    COMPUTER VOICE
    Would you like…another…
    cheeseburger?

    WOMAN
    I DIDN’T GET ANY!!!

    COMPUTER VOICE
    Your account has been charged.
    (beat as hard-drive
    clicks)
    You have no more money! Please come
    back when you can afford to make a
    purchase!

    The woman BANGS on the machine in frustration. [Note: the
    following line will be the computer's catchphrase, always
    delivered in the same condescending, enthusiastic manner o.f
    Robert Young in the old Maxwell House decaf commercials]

    COMPUTER VOICE (CONT’D)
    Hey! Take it easy!
    (she bangs again)
    Hey! Take it easy!

    WOMAN
    My children are starving! And you
    took all my money!

    COMPUTER VOICE
    Your children are starving. OmniPal
    believes that no child should go
    hungry! You are an unfit mother! Now
    notifying Child Protective Services!

    We hear a siren in the distance. The woman and her four hungry
    kids take off running past Joe.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    1diocracy – The entire Script
    http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~ina22/splaylib/Screenplay-Idiocracy.htm

  25. January 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Heinlein’s comment about what a human “should” be able to do flies in the face of the division of labor and specialization. We have this wonderful civilization because we rely on other people to do things we don’t have the time to learn because we are focusing on what we do that they can’t. How is that different from relying on machines to do things for us? As long as we are in control of the machines and can turn them off when needed, I don’t see a problem.

    • methylamine
      January 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Well yes–there’s a reason I spend most of my days writing software instead of nailing up framing or growing potatoes.

      But I know how to do both, and I practice them from time to time.

      If those skills atrophy, you become one of those useless northeastern city-dwelling “trendies” who’re incompetent at absolutely everything except their one, highly specialized skill…and that skill is of zero value in a SHTF scenario.

      But it’s not just a SHTF scenario that makes these ancillary skills valuable. It’s day-to-day; I get a quote to fix some sheetrock in our bathroom, and I can call bullshit on the contractor when he tells me it’s X hours and I know how long it would take me. I take my wife’s car in for a wheel bearing job because I’m too busy that week, and I KNOW how much it should cost…and how it should be done right.

      Those skills give us confidence, and ground us in physical reality. You’ve worked with your own two hands; you know HOW things work, and what it takes to create them and fix them.

      Without that, you’re devolved to the level of those clueless “trendies”–and you quickly become the denizens of Washington’s reality-free zone, victim to empty shells like Piers Morgan.

      So I agree with Heinlein; we should strive at competence in as many fields as possible.

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        January 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        “So I agree with Heinlein; we should strive at competence in as many fields as possible.”

        I’m truly amazed that so many individuals don’t. When I see folks grazing long the aisles at Walmart I sometimes amuse myself by wondering just what’s happening in their minds. But before you try it be forewarned that it is rather scary, if for no other reason just knowing that most of these individuals operate motor vehicles on the same streets, roads, and highways that you regularly use. And perhaps even worse, they vote.

        Tinsley Grey Sammons (1936 –)

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        January 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

        I’m a Geezer and my intelligent wife is twelve years my junior. I make it a point to teach her “man things” and other things as well. For example, how to torque the lug nuts on our cars. I keep a spinner and a torque wrench in each vehicle. I’ve even had her practice the wheel-change drill while I was replacing brake pads. She is living proof that a good looking female does not have to be helpless when it becomes necessary to do man things.

        She will never have to deal with overtorqued rusty lugs on our vehicles.

        tgsam

  26. January 12, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    On the bright side, we won’t have to suffer the discomfort of cattle cars on the way to the camps. CitConComm can just have our black box mobiles bring us in centrally scheduled comfort.

    • Shazaam
      January 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Indeed….

      There is a point to the push for ‘em after all.

      When the Gestapo want to have a little talk, they’ll just re-direct / hijack your auto-drive ride to the local Gitmo interrogation center / waterboard resort. No muss, no fuss on their part, since the doors lock on their command and windows refuse to operate.

      Me? I’m wondering what happens when such a vehicle “reboots” due to a nearby lightning strike or maybe passing to close to a cell tower or police station or fire station…..

  27. lee
    January 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    But I am an idiot. I’ve always been an idiot. I can’t recall a time when when I wasn’t an idiot.

    I wanted to disable my ABS system but the inspectors at the inspector station said no-can-do. I’d flunk inspection if I did. I used to double clutch my ’97 Honda Civic but I was told, “Don’t do that, you’ll screw something up.” I said something about master and slave cylinders and you should have seen the looks I got for using racist language.

    But a driverless car — my dream come true. Now I can text and watch Star Trek episodes on the mini-tube as my car and I go wherever she decides to take me, hopefully to work or to do my errands. Remember the song from the sixties: “Keep your mind on your driving, keep you hands on the wheel, keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead…” That’s all in the past. Now it’s me who can be in the back seat hugging and kissing with those gorgeous gurrls I picked up on the Broadwalk. The heck with Fred.

    A driverless car. Motorized idiocy and make out heaven too. What’s not to like?

    • BrentP
      January 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      That’s the problem. Drivers who see their vehicle as a living room on wheels are already a burden on others. The machines taking over for them completely will be even worse. They’ll be programmed with every Claybrook and Nader edict from the last 40 years.

      There will be situations the machines can’t handle too. They’ll need to pass control to the human. And now instead of the dead cat reaction times currently used for speed limits and the like, the reaction times will be doubled or worse. That means even lower speed limits.

      All that’s being done is building better idiots which means more restrictions on everyone which builds better idiots which means more restrictions on everyone which….

      Now if the machines were programmed say using the German driving model that would be fine. But that’s not going to happen in the USA.

      (BTW, ever notice that the ‘safety’ folks in the government have something like 3 second reaction times to set speed limits but 3 seconds isn’t too short for a yellow signal when a red light camera is in operation?)

  28. JdL
    January 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    My fear is that these robotic driving machines will be required by the government to be lousy drivers. For example, never allowed to exceed the speed limit and therefore driving side by side as a human driver tries in vain to pass them.

    That said, I think the technology is very cool!

  29. Jim
    January 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    This is why I eschew technology in certain situations. For example, when I go hiking (including the mountains in Colorado), I purposely do not rely, or even take along, a GPS. Give me a map and compass any day, and let me rely on my instincts and ability to navigate by the sun and stars. My big fear about this kind of technology becoming ubiquitous – what happens when it breaks? And break it will. Then what? Expensive repair bills, and inept drivers. Same with my passing up a GPS – what happens if I lose it/batteries run out/it breaks? I’d be screwed and lost.

    Sure, technology can be a wonderful thing, and it has its place. But I’d just as soon rely on myself.

    • JdL
      January 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      You seem to be implying that it’s got to be one or the other. To be sure, having a GPS provides the temptation to become sloppy with other skills, but it doesn’t have to follow that we yield to that temptation.

      I carry a GPS when I hike, but take it as a given that it could crap out at any moment. Mostly I carry it so I can see the track of my hike on a topo on my computer after I get home. ;-)

      • Jim
        January 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

        No implication on my part, just saying what *I* do when it comes to trekking in the wilderness. Or other areas of my life, for that matter. It’s my own choice, and I prefer to be able to continue making that choice.

        Don’t get me wrong, I have only one phone, and it’s a sail fawn (though not a “smart” phone). And I program computers for a living. So technology is a big part of my life in *some* areas, though certainly not all.

        And of course there’s the understanding of human nature – when you come to rely on technology or any other shortcut, your skills atrophy as you practice them less and less. Face it – with automated cars, people can and will yield to temptation. Just look around, it’s happening already, everywhere.

        • JdL
          January 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

          I prefer to be able to continue making that choice.

          I hope I didn’t say anything that would imply to the contrary.

          … people can and will yield to temptation.

          Yes, and that’s not always a bad thing. The introduction of reliable tractors caused people to let atrophy their skills with a horse-drawn plow, and to stop teaching those skills to their children, for example. I would call that not a big loss for humanity, since tractors probably aren’t going away any time soon.

          However, when it comes to driving, I agree that there’s a greater danger. The robot must fail now and then, either through hardware error or a situation in which lanes aren’t clearly marked; in either event the driver must resume control in a second or less. No doubt there will be accidents when drivers fail to get re-focused quickly enough.

          It’s zero degrees in Colorado this morning; am headed out for a (probably somewhat abbreviated) hike.

          • Eightsouthman
            January 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm

            Weather Underground backed off their forecasts of -20° for Rockies next couple days. Frost on the punkin(sic)here in west Texas at 22° this morn, cold N wind. This latest storm, Gandolph, is bringing possibly record lows to Ca. in the mountain valley, big ag losses already, more to come, flooding in La. Wish we had the unwanted rains others are getting. We had 1″ Wed, first rain since August.

          • Eightsouthman
            January 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

            Oh, forgot, a good link to see winter storms of this year: http://www.wunderground.com/news/winter-storm-thumbprint-this-season-20130109

  30. Bob
    January 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I agree that more substitutes for human responsibility tend to create a more passive, less engaged individual. But transportation is often a means rather than an end. When horses were modes of transportation, you could be blind, drunk, and near death and still make it home. A much more engaging argument is the over-zealous regulation of the manufacture, sale, licensing, and insurance of the auto. As long as you have the ability and “permission” to disable this feature, it does not seem so bad.

    • Shazaam
      January 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Screw the “permission” bit.

      The stuff is easy to disable. A switch to interrupt a wheel sensor is sufficient with ABS. It sees no spin with no brakes applied and promptly disables itself. The “check vehicle” codes are another issue tho as it may wish to record the “error”.

      • BrentP
        January 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

        Nothing is retained after X many driving cycles. The computer system either declares it a transient error or assumes the fault was fixed. That’s without using a code reader to clear the memory manually.

  31. Eightsouthman
    January 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    My wife and cousin were doing geneological searches through newspapers around the turn of the 19th=20th century and noticed articles accounting people not making it home from town at night, many on horseback, buggy and even pedestrians, having an accident of some sort, maybe after drinking but not necessarily. Yep, you can walk off a bridge in the dark, fall into a hole, be attacked by wild critters or other two legged vermin, any number of things that will end up in your demise. Sure is a shame life isn’t 100% guaranteed like the anti-gun crowd think it would be.

  32. David Madole
    January 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    If Ford does as fine a job implementing reliability in “Lane Keeper” as they did with “MyFord Touch” in my 2012 Focus, please count me out. Within a month of ownership I could expect to find myself either off a cliff or into a guardrail.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my Focus including MyFord Touch and have no regrets at all. But it’s not a safety feature. When it exhibits bizarro behavior as it does now and again, its a minor annoyance, not a threat to my life.

  33. wkwjshd
    January 13, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I think falling asleep at the wheel will be a problem for this system.

  34. January 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I’m browsing during the ad. breaks of watching TV. By sheer chance, an old episode of Bones just showed a car doing “intelligent parking” with the driver hands off. So this sort of thing isn’t all that new.

    … The moral of the story is that while computers are more efficient than human beings, they aren’t necessarily better.

    Louis XVI made the same mistake. In an effort to make his armed forces more efficient, he reformed the Garde de Corps or royal bodyguard that had been made up of impoverished lesser nobles who had been chosen for their loyalty rather than their efficiency, ever since that unit had been founded. He succeeded; come the revolution, he had far more of the efficient sort of soldiers around him than of the loyal sort.

    Try to imagine a future – not far off – in which a generation of people have never learned even the rudiments of controlling a car themselves, but have been conditioned to rely on computers to “keep them safe.”

    See Larry Niven’s Safe at Any Speed.

  35. January 13, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    To be honest, I would welcome this technology, but mostly because I’m a self-employed freelance painter, and often have travel up to two hundred fifty miles for work. To me, this option would be cheaper than flying and more convenient than taking a bus and taxi to get to where I need to go, especially when I have to cart my tools with me. While I generally enjoy driving, crossing hundreds of miles of sleep-inducing interstate at odd hours with nothing but a limited amount of music to distract me from the mind-numbing repetition of the trip is not a whole lot of fun. I’d rather spend the time reading a book reading cool websites and blog on my phone, or even watching videos on my tablet than simply watching the road. I’d still prefer to drive short trips myself, though. But for humdrum highway travel, having autopilot would be quite welcome.

  36. caia
    October 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    You make some provocative, potentially valid points. However, some of this strays dangerously towards ableism — the idea that all human beings are or should be without physical or mental handicap.

    Plenty of human beings are unable to do certain things for themselves, due to illness, accident, age, or a disability they were born with. Stephen Hawking, for example, may have to be “dressed and posed and positioned by others.” He has to reconcile himself to “just sit[ting] there” and “be[ing] positioned.” And yet, he is far from an unthinking mannequin or a corpse.

    Likewise, one might argue that Christopher Reeve achieved far more after he could no longer dress or bathe himself than he did when he was the Man of Steel.

    Plenty of people go about their lives needing various technologies and/or human assistance to manage the day-to-day necessities of living, while simultaneously contributing in ways large and small. Not only would they be the poorer for the lack of assistance, so would we all. I refer you to a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode in which LaForge’s visor — which allows a blind man to see — provides the necessary technology to save a civilization which did not allow people with disabilities to be born.

    Able-bodied and able-minded people who choose not to learn crucial skills are, in some ways, inflicting disability on themselves. On the other hand, what constitutes a crucial skill varies according to time and culture. Do we all really need to know how to gentle a horse anymore? The most universally crucial skill set across cultures may be the cultivation/raising/finding/fishing/hunting of food… and yet, even there, what constitutes sufficient skill is vastly dependent on where you are. Someone who knows how to farm in Tennessee might well be useless if they had to hunt in Alaska, and vice versa.

    All that said, machines fail, break, and otherwise malfunction. The more complex something is, the more ways it can break down. There is something to be said for that.

    • eric
      October 9, 2013 at 5:35 am

      Hi Cala,

      The article wasn’t intended to criticize people who can’t do things for themselves. It was directed at those – we call them Clovers here – who insist on trying to force others to do things (or not do them).

      So, as an example: If a person wishes to not have to shift gears for themselves (as an example) then by all means, that person ought to be able to buy an automatic transmission – provided there are enough other people to make it worth doing for the manufacturer.

      But, mandating automatic transmissions is another thing.

      Same goes for air bags and all the rest of it.

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