It Won’t Be Like The Jetsons

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What does it mean when people talk about self-driving cars? We really ought to be talking about programmed cars.

And about who does the programming.

The “self-driving” car doesn’t decide for itself how fast it goes or what route it takes – at least, it won’t until it becomes an autonomous thinking machine, an artificial intelligence. We are not quite there yet.

So, in the meanwhile, who decides?

And it is a who – a flesh-and-blood someone (or someones). Guess what? It’s not you. This whole “self driving” car thing is about taking you out of the driver’s seat. And putting someone else in control of “your” car.

That part stays the same. Nominal ownership. You will make the payments, pay the taxes and fees. You will still be responsible for all of that.

But who will control the car? And how will they control it?

The “who” will be the same people who already control the roads: The people who are the government. Clovers. Authoritarian Control Freaks. The same people who make the laws about how fast you’re allowed to drive, when (and whether) you’re allowed to pass, make a right on red or a U turn . . . every last little thing.

They will control your “self-driving” car.

And when they do, not only will you not be allowed to proceed at a speed faster than they decree – or make a U turn or a right on red . . .  or do anything they do not want you to do- it will be impossible to do so.

The car – controlled by them – will not do your bidding.

It will do theirs.

Can you imagine? I can – and it makes my teeth ache.

People have this idea that the “self driving” future will be fast and free. A techno-Libertopia of high-speed and high-efficiency. Cars zipping along at triple digit speeds in tight formation, travel times cut down to a fraction of what they are now.

In fact it will be the opposite.

It will be Least Common Denominator . . . universalized and encoded in the electro-mechanical DNA of “your” car. No longer will you bee free to mash the gas and thread the needle through a Clover Cluster, chuckling to yourself as you watch them recede in the rearview. There will be no “speeding,” no right on red.

You – that is, your car – will drive at exactly the pace of the Clover Cluster.

A slow pace.

No more burnouts; no more drifting. Nothing “aggressive.”

Acceleration will be metered in accordance with the Fear Factor of the Clover Cluster. Think of your mother-in-law.

Of your grandmother. In her ’87 Buick Le Sabre, hunched over the over the wheel, perpetually riding the brakes.

It will have to be one size fits all. Because the programming must be. No more wiggle room; no more driving the way you prefer. No more driving faster – or harder – than they allow.

Individuals vary, but the Clover Hive is just that – a hive. Napoleon chose it as the symbol of his authoritarian state for good reason. Everyone the same and expected to do the same, except the Queen. The analogy is excellent, too, because the people dictating programming policy will almost certainly be “moms” and others of the female persuasion – who esteem saaaaaaaafety above everything and for whom velocity is the sine qua non of not-safe.

Slower is always better.

It will be like taking the bus – only worse. The bus driver was still an autonomous individual; he had the option to exercise initiative; he could even do something technically illegal – but reasonable and even necessary to deal with a situation that would otherwise mean just sitting there, Because It’s The Law.

Imagine how it will be in your programmed-by-others car. Traffic has come to a dead stop because of an accident up ahead. You could drive on the shoulder – briefly – to reach that exit a few hundred yards away.

But the programmed-by-others car will veto that. It is, after all, illegal to drive on the shoulder – and the car’s programming won’t will permit the law to be violated. Leaving aside the Cloverific adulation of The Law, the lawyers would never allow it.

Can you imagine?

Well, your honor, I knew it wasn’t legal to drive on the shoulder but I was just the passenger.


So the cars will be programmed to never do anything that isn’t “safe” – as well as punctiliously, exactly legal. And what is legal will be strictly in accordance with what your near-sighted, fearful mother-in-law would approve of. What the termagants who control the levers and billy clubs of government decide is “safe.”

To believe otherwise, you must believe that in this one instance, the government will not use technology to further control us. That it will set us free, expand our liberty.

The one upside – maybe – is that we’ll be able to get soused before the trip and just pass out. Tell the car to wake us up when we get there.

Whenever that turns out to be.

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  1. If the future of the Jetsons cartoon series is really much like 1962, but 100 years later, this is how it would REALLY go down for the Jetson family as George lets them off on their daily destinations and gets himself to “toil” at Spacely Sprockets:

    What even Seth MacFarlane could NOT show, and believe me, he’d figure out a way, is for Jane, once Elroy and Judy are off to school, to go “Rule 34” on George BEFORE she took ANY money and went off to “shop” (or have “lunch with the girls”).

  2. And who do the personal injury attorneys sue when there is an accident (and there *will* be accidents)? Kind of difficult to bring a bundle of software into court. I s’poze you could bring the programmers into court, but I ‘spect they’ll be covered by some sort of immunity since they’ll be gub’mint employees either directly or by contract.

    • The plaintiffs’ bar will have to be sated, in one way or another, as it has historically been a fundraising cash cow for the Democrat wing of the Progressive one-party state that micromanages our lives.

      The regulatory body and its members will be immune from the reach of the injured plaintiffs, but not the crony-capitalist designers / managers of the system.

  3. Awesome article, I am glad to finally find somewhere to read about cars where they are not all hot and heavy on autonomous driving!!

    • This website is singular and fundamentally important. Eric is preforming a public service – without tax dollars!
      We love it so much we donate what we can, when we can. In fact, in celebration of “Storz” I will go and throw some fiat (currency) at the website.

      • Just don’t throw a Fiat (Fix It Again Tony) at the website. Eric would be so busy sweeping up little bits of recycled Chinese metal and plastic, that we wouldn’t see any new content for a month!

  4. The problem, Eric, is that there are too damned many people out there who will gladly give up their freedom to drive in exchange for “safety” and “convenience.” For a LOT of people freedom is a burden, because it requires responsibility, and it requires that one assume the risks associated with one’s own actions.

    Many people don’t want those burdens — especially women, who are by nature more risk-averse than men. The modern world as we know it — from powered flight to space flight to summiting Everest to finding the South Pole to another thousand examples — was created exclusively by men, not women, who took risks. Many died in the process.

    Your essay attacks the slow-driving grandmother and mother-in-law as the benchmark by which Uncle will program our cars, but remember that when females were given the franchise feminized socialism became inevitable.

    The classic exposition of the feminized forced-equality dictatorship is Vonnegut’s 1961 essay “Harrison Bergeron” — a libertarian’s classic. Anyone who has not read it should do so immediately — it’s a short story, only a few pages, and it really hits home.

    • So true. Look how many people gladly let their insurance co.s install black boxes in their cars and track all of their driving data, just to save a few bucks a year.

  5. Two things to keep in mind:

    Even if they manage to make completely self-driving cars, it won’t last long. Too much to go wrong with both the cars and the infrastructure that they need in order to operate. It might work briefly, but it won’t last. Just bar-code inventory control. LOL – In the 1960’s, store shelves were kept better stocked, and check-out was quicker,. Now with all the technology, the stores are worse than ever. As in many other facets of life, the technology that is supposed to make it “better”, usually makes it worse- even when it works. And then it fails.

    Secondly, the idea that it would eliminate or greatly reduce accidents is laughable. The commuter railroad where I used to live spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money upgrading their signal system to a “state of the art computerized system”. The RR which had been operating since the Civil War, used to be reliable, and hardly ever had an accident. Since the “upgrade”, the darn thing is a mess every time it so much as rains; never mind snow or leaves on the tracks! And it has never had more accidents.

    The more they do; the more they promise, the worse it gets. Seems like just an excuise to take away what little remains of our former freedoms, and gain control over EVERYTHING, while just making urban/suburban life more miserable for the poor masses who still choose to live that way.

    • Nunzio, ever notice how bar-codes seem to not reflect the sales price? We buy things from one place when they’re on sale and things from other places when they have a sale. We know who will have good prices on every product when there is a sale on. Some places though, like that huge, open all night mega store doesn’t seem to have the price change at the register when that should be the easiest thing to do and other than advertisements, need to be the only change. People often don’t see it or simply blow it off.

      I recently had this happen on multiples of a product I bought on sale. It rang out at the everyday price… to speak. I caught it and said it was advertised right there on the shelf as being that price. The cashier called her superior who said it wasn’t on sale. Well, why does it have a sale sign? So she hums and haws and says “OK, we’ll sell you the one for that price and but the others will be the regular price”. Ah contraire I replied, you will sell me as many of the damned things as I want at the sale price. I fell back on high school law from Mrs. Hill who would teach you a plethora of law and taxes if you’d just listen. Well, no said the mediator so I had to pull the big gun and tell her to check Texas law. She was intimidated since she was of a minority ethnic group who never learned to read or much of anything else. It wasn’t my first rodeo with this type of thing. Maybe the people in line behind me learned more than I was just holding them up.

      • Good point, 8.

        I love too, how when the scanner gives the wrong price, they can just blame it on the scanner, and don’t have to take any personal responsibility for it- not even an “I’m sorry”.

        Like in your example, they try and make YOU feel like the bad guy.

        In some of the nanny states, they actually have laws now, that if an item scans for higher than the posted price, you get it for free. County where i used to live had a similar law- I used to take advantage of it all the time. A grocery store right near a senior complex used to be really terrible. Not many people knew about the law.

        I sure miss the old days, when the cashier would just look at the price tag and rign it up- so much faster. Of course, today, with all those members of the ethnic minority group who never learned to read being so much more prevalent and brzen, they’d be switching all the price tags when they shop, so they could get a carton of Newports for the price of a pack of Bazooka…… But man, I miss those days! When even lowly cashiers knew how to do basic math, and were more than automatons.

        • Hey 8, check this out: Someone turned me onto this today- an ep of “Peoople’s Court”, just the first few minutes. I’ll bet even that cashier was more eloquent than this dingbat! If you watch the whole case, the judge even corrects the douchebag’s “English” at one point! I guarantee you this queen’s ancestors have been in this country longer than mine…..but you’d think was just off the boat! Scary. The average 5 year-old can speak better English.

          • Nunzio, don’t give anybody too much credit or you’re likely to get it all over you….cashiers being right up front in that line.

            A buddy and I returned from a fishing trip and I saw much cheaper gas than home and was running on fumes anyway so I stopped in a convenience store to fill up.

            A boy, about 12 or so was watching me when I started in on the right hand tank and saw the “Diesel Fuel Only” so he comes over and says timidly, “Mister, that sign says Diesel only”. I told him thanks but this old pickup had a transplant and was carrying a big ol rat motor so it would be fine. He looked at me like I was speaking Greek and I thanked him anyway for his concern.

            I didn’t expect a kid to know what a rat motor was but thought he might investigate and learn something. So I go in to pay, get some beer and ice and the cashier, a guy maybe 21 or so, rings it up at which point I give him a Benjy(lotsa gas). He makes change and you could clearly tell he was confused, especially when he gave me not an extra 20 but some extra ones and coins. I don’t take people so I began to sort it out for him by not taking the change and said he’d better check it again. Still way off so I said as I handed the money back to him “take this back and this and give me that” which would make it correct. Again, he still tried to give me about 10 extra. I finally got the right change in his hand and left with him still looking puzzled but relieved. And you wonder why they have registers that add and subtract and you know better than to fool around and try to avoid change. Just take what they give you if it’s correct, put the damned change in your pocket till you can throw it in the ashtray and go on. You’ll need the change eventually at the carwash.

            • Hi Eight,

              Remember when it was called “counting change”? I’ve tried to explain to “youngsters” that you don’t need a calculator or be able to do math in your head to provide correct change. You just need to be able to count. Counting up from the bill to the tendered amount is easy, nearly foolproof and demonstrates to the customer that the change is correct. In a single generation, both cashiers and customers have lost this simple skill.

              I know it seems trivial but eliminating the need to exercise even basic mental skills seems guaranteed to produce stupider people.


              • Jeremy, counting change is the only way to do business but it’s lost on the new generation. It’s not only foolproof but it’s the courteous way to give somebody change. I often use the store as my ATM and judge a cashier by the way I receive my change. Most will ask how I want it, the proper way to do it. The sorry ones will just give you what they want and simply hand it to you with receipt so I have to stand there and count it in front of them to make up for what might have been their mistake. I won’t lie, it really pisses me off and I’ve been known to school a cashier or two for this very thing.

                I worked at both the grocery stores in town as a kid and the first thing I was taught was how to count change back to the customer. Back then you weren’t teaching your customer anything by doing this….these days, I can’t say for sure.

                I recently had this cashier give me a hundred dollars back in the most asinine way possible, a combo of 5’s, 10’s and 20’s when all I needed was a single bill.

                When I think about it, I think we were taught this in school as well as my grandmother showing me to always count money for the customer and do so verbally.

                The local Wally recently had a young girl with a clover attitude as a cashier. She wanted to see my DL to buy beer. I know you’re laughing since you’ve seen me but I wasn’t. And on my trip I stopped at a Lowe’s grocery store to get some stuff along with some Shiner. I knew I refused to buy beer at their locations on the plains due to their requiring you to scan your DL into a machine. When I was first accosted with it I told the entire Hispanic staff it was the thing of communists and I refused….leaving my beer on the counter with everything else. Well, apparently every Lowe’s does this since I got the same treatment near New Braunfels. I looked at the guy and said “shit, I forgot I was at a Lowe’s”. He was a young guy and said it wasn’t absolutely necessary if I didn’t have my DL. He got the go ahead from a guy close to my age who I had conversed with the day before. I didn’t go back and won’t. It’s not that much further to Wally or HEB. They’re too damned high anyway.

              • Part of why the skill has been lost is due to the enormous number of people proffering plastic cards instead of cash for their transactions. They prefer to be “swiped” and sign, rather than deal with carrying cash, let alone being responsible for receiving their proper change.

                We need not even get into how cashiers were once trained to place dollars sideways on top of the cash drawers of the register while making change.

                Like you at Lowe’s, I would have left the my beer on the counter, too. I left a gun store/shooting range empty-handed a few years back when the guy at the counter wanted my DL “to put me into their system” when I asked to purchase some ammunition.

                If something is not a legal requirement to make a purchase where I live, I feel that any business that wants my information does not need my business.

            • I’ve always been one to return any overage when being given change, too. Years ago, they’d be grateful and thank you for doing so. Then, more recently, they just look at you like a deer caught in the headlights- probably thinking that we’re “stupid”.

              Lately, I don’t get overages anymore. It seems that mistakes now are always in their favor. And when you point that out, there’s never a “sorry” tendered.

              • Once a couple over charges got by me but not worth going back to correct I started keeping the under charges so it would break even. If I notice an overcharge I have it corrected and I usually do but the rare undercharges are to go for those I don’t catch or catch late.

                • You know, Brent, now that you mention, I just remembered: Last year the cashier in Walmart screwed up (not on the change, but somehow in the ring-up process) and undercharged me by c. $20.

                  I was pretty sure that that was what was happening when it was happening, and asked “Are you sure that’s right? It sounds too cheap”. (I was busy packing a bunch of stuff in the cart and all, so wasn’t really paying attention) but the cashier said “That’s what it says”- so I paid what he asked, and went on my merry way. When I got home I looked at the receipt and saw the windfall.

                  Years ago, I would have gone in on my next trip and made it right….but I’ve been gypped SO many times over the years at Walmart- often for $2, $3 or $5, and simply didn’t want to be bothered standing on line at customer service and going through all the BS to get a refund every time, that I just kept this windfall to make up for it (and they’re STILL ahead of the game!)

                  Thanks for reminding me of that!!!!

                  At other stores, I’ve gone back in from the parking lot after discovering an undercharge….but my official policy when it comes to Walmart is: All bets are off!

  6. Auto-cars will become the prisons of the future.

    You really think ‘they’ need you in the car?

    They won’t need your permission to ‘borrow’ your car, now will they. Goodbye car.

    Wonder if they will ever require us to use cars….no walking, biking…it could happen.

    Hope I die soon.

    • Cars will be so expensive and so regulated (even MORE than they are now) that driving will be only for the elite and the government goons/politicians/etc.

      What we are seeing now, with the safety fartwar; the MPG fartwar; the environmental fartwar; etc. are all just the processes by which they are making driving unattainable to the masses.

      Slaves can’t freely travel.

  7. Yeah, these will work just “great” out where we live – trying to follow a dirt road full of mud holes winding through the trees.

    GPS directions will send you up a hundred year old wagon road through a cow pasture (I don’t suppose the “self-driving” car can open its own gates???) or down a dead end private road where an old guy with a beard and a shotgun is waiting for you!

    • Or in the case of a guy who was following GPS like a lemming, off the end of a missing bridge (one that had been out for years already). Had to drive around at least three barricades to do it too. Drove right off the end, falling 70 feet, blowing up his car, and killing his own wife. What we would call a “super” clover.

    • But they are NOT completely self driving. They are drone cars; not self driving cars. there is an operator who monitors the cars (3 at a time) in a remote location. He can see through the cars cameras, and readily assess problems. Allegedly.

  8. Except that autonomous vehicle will have a breathalyzer programmed in it to measure your BAC. Then, “Wake me up when we get there,” will mean, “Wake me up when we reach the police barracks. So you can turn yourself in for not driving your vehicle with an illegal BAC.”

    However, I do see one upside.

    The police force that actively write tickets will need to find productive work, since these autonomous vehicles will obey their stupid laws ad infinitum. We won’t have police chases for people making illegal right turns on red, since those turns will never be made.

    As such, the quantity of traffic citations will drop.

  9. You couldn’t be more correct. A few days ago I was driving down a main thoroughfare in Ocala, Fl and noticed that there was a Tesla Model 3 just ahead of me in the right lane. Out of curiosity I dropped back just a bit to look the thing over as I wondered who would be buying such an expensive car and what was so great about it.
    Then he turned on his left turn signal signaling that he wanted to change lanes. The car was about 30 to 40 feet ahead of me but kept driving in the left lane for over a block before I realized that the auto pilot or safety features sensed my truck was too close and wouldn’t make the lane change. Amused I decided to check this out. As long as I kept my distance the car did not change lanes even though his blinker stayed on. Finally, I dropped back a few more feet , maybe 50 feet by then, and the car moved slowly over into the right lane ahead of me but, it took half a block to make the lane change. My conclusion is you could really mess with these things if you were of a mind to do so.
    Also notice that they have installed about 4 Tesla charging stations in a big shopping center parking lot on state road 200 but have never seen anyone using them.

    • The problem with your story is that Model 3 has yet to be released and is considered to be more reasonably priced (well as reasonable as all new cars are now).

      It is more likely you saw a Model S with its autonomous features engaged. I’ve often thought of the nefarious purpose this could be put to when carjacking someone in a moving vehicle. Just pull in front of it and it stops where a normal person would figure out the intent of the carjacker and simply pull around.

    • I realized that years ago. That people would start trolling and taking advantage of these systems. Then they would assume every car on the road has them making life difficult for those without.

      If cars brake automatically and make holes for aggressive drivers, guess what’s going to happen? It doesn’t take much in brainpower to think this stuff through but I find most human beings conserve cognitive effort.

  10. Several thoughts on this:
    First, I disagree with the general assessment that “self-driving” cars will take over any time in the near future. Everyone I talk to about it, and I meet lots of people from lots of walks of life, says that they would not trust a self-driving car as far as they can toss a piano. Couple that with the incredibly shitty customer service put out by Google and Uber, the leaders in the “self-driving” car race, and you have all the makings of the world’s largest marketing disaster. They can roll these monstrosities out, but if no one gets in them, it will be a failure from the get go.
    Second, they are not really “self-driving” cars to begin with. More like drone cars. I talked to one of the people who works in Uber’s self driving car division. Each one of these “self-driving” cars does most of the driving itself. However, there is an operator in a remote office who monitors 3 cars at a time from a computer and can over-ride the car at any time. So, it just may be possible that a self driving car might swing onto the shoulder to get around a wreck or an obstacle. Or to overcome any of the numerous different problems that arise in driving.
    Third, I think the trucking industry is probably going to be the first adopter of this technology, since trucking is largely “point to point” driving to fixed destinations, and routes can be assigned efficiently as an algorithm. The cost savings of replacing drivers, road managers, hotel & meal costs, etc. will be enormous and the giant trucking companies will likely be the first onboard with the self-driving technology. Speed and efficiency of delivery will be greatly increased as well, since a robot does not have to stop after driving a set number of hours. There will be logistical difficulties, such as refueling the trucks, but they can be overcome. While the impact of self-driving trucks on the economy will be huge (think of all those driver jobs gone, as well as support jobs in everything from HR departments, and training operations, all the way to impact on road-side diners), there is a tremendous upside since almost everything is shipped by truck, and the cost savings in the transport industry will lead to price reductions across the economy.
    So, I see trucking as very threatened by this technology, but private vehicles not so much.

    • Paul, I’d agree that truck drivers will be a thing of the past for the most part. The ranks have already been greatly thinned by TWIC. The TSA is the agency to vet drivers for TWIC cards and they check people by every means available including asking their family, neighbors and anyone else they think know them about how they conduct their life.

      I know a driver who hauled a load of nuclear waste to La. It may go through Texas but La. will be first to find it in their water although Tx. already has disposal sites that have leaked badly in the desert near places like Kermit where there was little public outcry. Of course, there’s little public so the “outcry” part is going to be very limited even though some of us who were aware of it being implemented raised hell…..but they couldn’t hear us. That driver found out he was shadowed every step of the way by their nefarious “agents”. He promptly quit, bought his own truck and stays clear of TWIC.

  11. Well, remember that there will be a robust hacker community thwarting their efforts to lock these things down. I’m 100% certain that police cars will be programmed differently than the rest of them. Since programmers are lazy and businesses hire “good enough, but not great” programmers, I’m also fairly certain the police car code will be just a mode switch. Much like rooting and jailbreaking in cell phones, people will figure out how to hack these things.

    And because they’re pretty much all going to run on Linux (again, cheap companies and lazy programmers), someone will produce an open source OS that will let the end user have control over their device.

    • There is very little interest with car software with most geeks. The car companies go out of their way to keep people from messing with the code in vehicles, in fact prohibiting most of it. It doesn’t help that most tech in cars is already years out of date (even when new) so that leads to disinterest by coders.

      Therefore there is very little custom coding for cars. And there should be, like everything else about cars. Had computer code arrived in cars in a different era, I bet there would be a huge customization industry out there, but there isn’t since it was the 90’s before software really started to take over. I don’t see a custom coding industry arriving anytime soon. If anything any hacking will only lead to more lockdown of vehicle software. Forget about any legitimate third party software.

      Besides if a third party software industry would emerge and give new life to cars condemned to the junkyard just because of worn out electronics the new car industry won’t want that. They want those cars crushed so people have to sign up for new car payments.

  12. There may be some salubrious effects to this development, though. Presumably, there will be no traffic accidents, no speeding, no DWI, etc. Thus, no need for cops on the road, or at least far fewer and their job will be different. Of course, the flip side will be a diminution of municipal revenue traditionally had through the imposition of fines for traffic infractions. Cities and towns will have to find new sources of revenue.

    • I’ve heard that before…. well DWI will still be enforced. Sure the car may be automated but the guy with the keys is still in it and has an arbitrarily high BAC. They aren’t giving up that revenue. The laws are already written so that one can get a DWI in an automated car.

      As far as other traffic citations? Well guess what programmers are already discovering in their automated car testing? That following the law to the letter has negative safety implications. So automated cars will likely be programmed to violate laws for safety and then the owner will get an automated ticket.

      Also cops are hired to the maximum number that the revenue and borrowing costs extracted from the population can support. Those freed from regular traffic duty will be seizing property and such. They’ll find new sources of revenue before they reduce their ranks.

  13. When they decide they don’t like the books you are reading they can control your car to deliver you to the nearest police station/extermination camp.

  14. My question has always been: when the day comes (and you know it will eventually) where automated driving becomes so widespread that they officially make manual driving illegal, would they just simply outlaw motorcycles, considering it’s much more technologically harder to make them automatic?

    • Hi Gray,

      Consciously or not, that will be the inevitable result. It will be argued that non-automated vehicles aren’t “safe” – which (like “racism”) elicits a Pavlovian response in all too many people.

      • Red Barchetta

        My uncle has a country place
        That no one knows about
        He says it used to be a farm
        Before the Motor Law
        And now on Sundays I elude the eyes
        And hop the turbine freight
        To far outside the wire where my
        White-haired uncle waits

        Jump to the ground as the turbo slows
        To cross the borderline
        Run like the wind as excitement shivers
        Up and down my spine
        But down in his barn
        My uncle preserved for me
        An old machine
        For fifty-odd years
        To keep it as new
        Has been his dearest dream

        I strip away the old debris
        That hides a shining car
        A brilliant Red Barchetta
        From a better vanished time
        We’ll fire up the willing engine
        Responding with a roar
        Tires spitting gravel
        I commit my weekly crime

        In my hair
        Shifting and drifting
        Mechanical music
        Adrenaline surge

        Well-oiled leather
        Hot metal and oil
        The scented country air

        Sunlight on chrome
        The blur of the landscape
        Every nerve aware

        Suddenly ahead of me
        Across the mountainside
        A gleaming alloy air-car
        Shoots towards me two lanes wide
        Oh, I spin around with shrieking tires
        To run the deadly race
        Go screaming through the valley
        As another joins the chase

        Ride like the wind
        Straining the limits
        Of machine and man
        Laughing out loud with fear and hope
        I’ve got a desperate plan

        At the one-lane bridge
        I leave the giants stranded
        At the riverside
        Race back to the farm
        To dream with my uncle
        At the fireside

      • It could be also argued that the “self driving” cars might be unsafe too. How many innovative technologies have been killed by the gun-verment safety mavens? I’d love to be the lawyer who goes up against Uber after their first at-fault wreck.
        It remains to be seen how the American public reacts to these things. Maybe the public will say manually driven cars are unsafe. Maybe the public will say self driving cars are unsafe. We can’t be sure until they actually come onto the road.
        But it is a given that fear will be the determining factor.
        Another factor may be the attitude of Uber and Google to current laws. Uber in particular seems to me to be a bunch of pirates who gleefully break every rule that they can. At the same time, Uber has a total lack of customer service. These things should be factored into any analysis of the future of driving. They may just piss off the powers that be so much that the things are banned in their infancy.
        As I have said, I had a man in my cab who was a drone operator for Uber’s self driving cars. He said that in the testing that they have done so far in Chicago, the safety record of these vehicles is comparable to that of professional taxi companies, which is pretty doggone good, and a lot better than the safety record of the general driving public. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind some of the idiot drivers I see on the roads every stinking day of the week replaced by drones. It would make things a lot safer.
        But we have more than 300 million vehicles to replace on the roads. That is not going to happen over night. I doubt that manual cars will be a thing of the past any time soon.
        That these machines will become a part of our driving experience is almost a given, but there are too many variables to be making broad, apocalyptic statements about them yet.

        • “Maybe the public will say”
          But the USSA was not intended by the Framers, let alone the Founders, to be a democracy. They shuddered in revulsion at the thought.
          The Bill of Rights was written to defend the rights of minorities, including a minority of States, against the majority. At the insistence of anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry.
          No more.

          • But Uber & Google & Ford and the other developers of this technology are not government agencies. Government suck-ups, yes; government agencies no. Therefore, they have to please the consumer–the public. This is something Goodge & Uber refuse to do. Ever try to get in touch with Google for anything at all, other than AdWords? It is impossible. Same with Uber. No phone number. No online chat….Nothing.
            I don’t see them changing this business model just because they added drones. Being “cutting edge techie pirates” is their whole schtick. It may fly with some of the younger generation, now. But this attitude won’t fly with the older generation. And it won’t fly with the younger set after the first time a Uber self driving car locks up due to a software issue, and the Millenial can’t reach tech support for any assistance at all.
            The American government was set up as a Constitutional republic It’s true. (How is that working out for you?) But the free market is the true “democracy” as in “rule by the people.”. Please the people, or watch your market share dwindle to nothing almost over night.

            • “How is that working out for you?”
              I didn’t say it was working, just that it was intended.
              Most of the Founders, and even some of the Framers, were not like Hamilton, but were tricked by him.

    • I was saying this to a friend, who snorted with disbelief at the idea “they” would ever ban manual driving.


      We both ride off-road. He’s a chopper pilot. I asked how he felt, knowing his job was soon to vanish? He snorted with more disbelief and said “Not for another 20 years!”

      I have since sent him a link for the flying drone car in Dubai, and the self-righting motorcycle…

      • Alan, Lockheed-Martin debuted the autonomous plane a few years back. It makes even more sense to delete a pilot in a chopper. No pilot could mean a lot less weight depending on if you can rid the craft of the cockpit, a big boon to surveillance or simple freight hauling.

      • Maybe he knows about the high failure rate of the military drones:

        “All I saw were tents, and I was afraid that I had killed someone,” Air Force Maj. Richard Wageman told investigators after an accident in November 2008, when he lost control of a Predator that plowed into a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

        This brings up another interesting question: What happens with a mix of autonomous drivers carrying cargo and human occupied vehicles? When there’s “no harm, no foul” to the driver will the cargo carrier be more agressive?

  15. Not to worry. When Big Nanny does her broadcasts over the automated car’s radio which you will not be able to turn off, we will understand why She is concerned about us, and the realization will make a tear trickle down our faces. We will love Big Nanny.

    • The masses will love Big Nanny as they gleefully sing “I’m an Oscar Mayor Wiener” while passing time in their self driving cars.

  16. I predict the first thing that the autonomous cars will do, once they’re “perfected”, is the doors will lock while it’s being routed/guided. So if you get stuck in traffic only 100 yds away from your destination, you won’t be able to step out and walk.

    Or if the vehicle dies – no way to get out and push.

    • Hi Chip,

      I won’t be surprised. New cars already have almost that. Put it in Drive, the doors lock. Forgot something in back? Whoops, the door is locked.

      All for “safety.”

      • I actually have that feature enabled because Austin is full of homeless who camp out at intersections. They’re almost always drug addicts and often mentally ill. They show up because the town is full of people who will give them money. I’d prefer not to shoot them if they open the door.

        I once saw one with a sign “Carpenter. Need work”. This in a town where a good carpenter (especially a finish carpenter) can write their own check. Yeah, not buying it, and I’m not giving you any money either.

        • Austin is full of mentally ill people. Most are at the Capitol. The rest are at:
          Texas Department of Transportation
          125 East 11th St.
          Austin, TX 78701

  17. No, no ‘sousing’ because that would be ‘public intoxication.’ Despite the fact that you would be privately ensconced in ‘your’ car.


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