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Thread: Cars that drive themselves...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Cars that drive themselves...

    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 some thing) 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 smartly executed fast pass or perfectly timed corner exit is a form of art in motion.

    Knowing you are a good driver - that you can handle it - is immensely satisfying.

    Automated cars would take that all away. In effect, we'd be reduced to the state we were in as young children - when our parents buckled us in and took us for a drive when and how they wished. Our role was to sit quietly and await our arrival - more or less shut down in the meanwhile.

    That's the Brave New World in store for us - perhaps just a few short years down the road. The gadgeteers are hard at work. Google - a new Dark Empire if ever there was such - has been field-testing driverless cars for months, apparently.

    Probably many people will welcome it.

    They're already half-dead anyhow - sleepwalking through life with reel-loop videos of last night's game (another passive, life-through-others "activity') and a vague hunger for another fast-food meal rolling through their minds as they slog back home to the underwater McMansion from another day being told what to do and how to do it by impersonal others in their cubicles. For them, driverless cars are the logical end point. Why not?

    But not for me.

    If the day ever comes when I am no longer permitted to operate my car myself, that will be the day I give up on driving - as such will have ceased to be possible anyhow.

    Maybe, in tribute to Edmund Ruffin, I will wrap myself in my shop manual and beat myself unconscious with a torque wrench. The New World isn't something I want to be conscious for anyhow.

  2. #2
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    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.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    But, Eric. You must look at the bigger picture, think of the SAFETY!!!

    Your own personal travel cube will never get too close to the cube in front, it won't go too fast, it won't break the posted limits on any road. It will wait till the junction is absolutely 110% clear before proceeding, it won't get frustrated by the cube in front doing 40 in a 50 limit, man! it won't even overtake because that could cause a collision, (previously referred to as an accident) You will be wafted along in near silence, at a mind blowing 35 mph, by an ecologically friendly electric motor which will be computer controlled to maximize mileage (at the expense of performance of course) and your personal safety will be it's raison d'être at all times. Oh, I forgot, throughout your journey it will play soft, sweet muzak to soothe and relax you.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    But, Eric. You must look at the bigger picture, think of the SAFETY!!!

    Your own personal travel cube will never get too close to the cube in front, it won't go too fast, it won't break the posted limits on any road. It will wait till the junction is absolutely 110% clear before proceeding, it won't get frustrated by the cube in front doing 40 in a 50 limit, man! it won't even overtake because that could cause a collision, (previously referred to as an accident) You will be wafted along in near silence, at a mind blowing 35 mph, by an ecologically friendly electric motor which will be computer controlled to maximize mileage (at the expense of performance of course) and your personal safety will be it's raison d'être at all times. Oh, I forgot, throughout your journey it will play soft, sweet muzak to soothe and relax you.

    Ken.
    Yes... someone... kill me... now.... please!

  4. #4
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Yes... someone... kill me... now.... please!
    Er? Oh yes, Bang!

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Makes me want to get a horse.

    This does not seem good to me. I think it would add more complexity and cost where it is not needed.

    Although this thought was used in science fiction, the following Dr. Who episode http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_tv36.htm talks of Automated driving devices being used to kill their occupants. While we won't have aliens trying to destroy the earth, automated driving devices could malfunction and cause harm to its occupants or others.


    From a cynical point of view, I do not think gov't or ins. co. would like this since it would reduce amt. of income they could acquire from the general public. (at least until they resort to raising taxes and/or ins. rates.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    But, Eric. You must look at the bigger picture, think of the SAFETY!!!

    Your own personal travel cube will never get too close to the cube in front, it won't go too fast, it won't break the posted limits on any road. It will wait till the junction is absolutely 110% clear before proceeding, it won't get frustrated by the cube in front doing 40 in a 50 limit, man! it won't even overtake because that could cause a collision, (previously referred to as an accident) You will be wafted along in near silence, at a mind blowing 35 mph, by an ecologically friendly electric motor which will be computer controlled to maximize mileage (at the expense of performance of course) and your personal safety will be it's raison d'être at all times. Oh, I forgot, throughout your journey it will play soft, sweet muzak to soothe and relax you.

    Ken.
    Sincerely,
    Anthony

    'Many are my names in many countries,' he said. 'Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Drarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.' Faramir

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  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Makes me want to get a horse.

    This does not seem good to me. I think it would add more complexity and cost where it is not needed.

    Although this thought was used in science fiction, the following Dr. Who episode http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_tv36.htm talks of Automated driving devices being used to kill their occupants. While we won't have aliens trying to destroy the earth, automated driving devices could malfunction and cause harm to its occupants or others.


    From a cynical point of view, I do not think gov't or ins. co. would like this since it would reduce amt. of income they could acquire from the general public. (at least until they resort to raising taxes and/or ins. rates.)
    Oh, they'd find ways to make us squeal.

    Maybe "user fees" or some such.

    Meanwhile, driving would have lost much of the joy it once had. We march ever closer to the Brave New World.

  7. #7
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    I can see room for both kinds of driving. Give us automated "express lanes" on freeways, where I can put the car on autopilot, but don't make everybody use them. We all win.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdg View Post
    I can see room for both kinds of driving. Give us automated "express lanes" on freeways, where I can put the car on autopilot, but don't make everybody use them. We all win.
    The problem I have with the thing is its likely coercive element.

    If you want a car that drives itself, fine. I believe you should be able to have/do anything you wish, so long as it doesn't impinge upon my right to the same freedoms. But for cars that drive themselves to work, automated highways of some sort would be necessary - as would the elimination of autonomous cars and drivers on those roads, since they would introduce an uncontrolled element to the mix. No thanks.

    I think we're controlled enough as it is; don't you?

  9. #9
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Homogenous cars and trucks have been coming for years. You can't buy a half ton Dodge (I know, it's called Ram now, I'm old and stubborn) or Ford and possibly Chevy/GMC pickup with a manual transmission. You can't. They didn't sell many so they dropped them. You usually couldn't buy one if you wanted to since the dealers made more money off automatics and they would preorder a bunch of automatic equiped trucks and try to sell you what they had on lot.

    I think a lot of the problems we have on the roads is because cars have gotten so easy to drive. Put someone who likes to text or talk and drive behind the wheel of a car with MANUAL steering and a MANUAL transmission and they will be too busy driving to do anything else. My nieces car sat in my driveway for two weeks because uncle saw her on the cell phone and driving. That was the deal when I gave her the car. NO CELL PHONES!!! My sister said it was an enlightening experience for her. She had to bum rides for those two weeks and really didn't like it.
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  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Homogenous cars and trucks have been coming for years. You can't buy a half ton Dodge (I know, it's called Ram now, I'm old and stubborn) or Ford and possibly Chevy/GMC pickup with a manual transmission. You can't. They didn't sell many so they dropped them. You usually couldn't buy one if you wanted to since the dealers made more money off automatics and they would preorder a bunch of automatic equiped trucks and try to sell you what they had on lot.

    I think a lot of the problems we have on the roads is because cars have gotten so easy to drive. Put someone who likes to text or talk and drive behind the wheel of a car with MANUAL steering and a MANUAL transmission and they will be too busy driving to do anything else. My nieces car sat in my driveway for two weeks because uncle saw her on the cell phone and driving. That was the deal when I gave her the car. NO CELL PHONES!!! My sister said it was an enlightening experience for her. She had to bum rides for those two weeks and really didn't like it.
    Amen.

    It's a feedback loop, too.

    Cars have become ever easier to drive because traffic continues to get worse and people are stuck spending more and more time just stewing in traffic, where "driving" is almost oxymoronic.

    So we import millions of additional people every year.... so we can have more traffic, which makes people want cars to be more like self-driving containers they can text/watch TV/do e-mail in.

    "America" is vanishing right before our eyes - and the automated car is merely a piece of the new Amerika that's growing up.

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