Idiot proofing is now out in the open. It’s just called something else – to make the idiots feel better about it. The car manufacturers style this idiot-proofing “assistance” technology – usually “advanced.”
Sometimes, “intelligent” – because they regard you as not.
There is nothing wrong with seeking assistance when you need it. Disabled people, for instance, often need assistance getting up and down stairs. But it’s insulting to offer it to a person who doesn’t need it – and obnoxious to force it on him. Imagine someone taking your elbow as you began walking up a flight of stairs, for instance. Imagine there were “assisters” standing at the foot of every stair case, who would peremptorily take the arm of every able-bodied person trying to walk up the stairs on their own.
This is the kind of “assistance” being installed in practically every new car.
It encompasses Lane Keep Assist – a system that presumes you’re so addled or incompetent that you cannot on your own keep the car within the boundaries of the yellow painted center line to your left and the white painted line to your right demarcating the shoulder.
There is Brake Assist, because apparently the foundational driving skill of applying the brakes as necessary is something many people now require . . . assistance with.
And there is “intelligent” Speed Limit Assist . . . because you’re obviously not intelligent enough to read the sign or decide for yourself what speed to drive – adjusting it, yourself, as conditions warrant.
You’d think they’re trying to “assist” us to the point where the driver no longer needs any – because he’s no longer driving the car at all. Bit by bit and model year by model year they seem to be herding us toward that end, gradually easing us into acquiescence via all of this “assistance.”
You’d think more people would at least be insulted.
“Assistance”? To maneuver the car into a curbside parking spot? There was a time when being able to perform this basic act of driving competence was part of the test one had to pass in order to get a license to drive. If you couldn’t, you didn’t.
Because you probably shouldn’t.
Some will protest and say that this is unfair to those who do need “assistance” in order to be able to curbside park or keep their car within its travel lane; that they would be excluded from driving were it not for the beneficent equalizer of the “assistance” technology. That it is necessary to be able to drive (even if the car is doing it) in order to fully function in our society.
But it’s not availability of assistance that’s objectionable. Or rather, no reasonable – no compassionate – person would withhold assistance from those who require it. Recall the iconic image of a Boy Scout helping an old woman cross the street. The problem lies in treating everyone as if they were an old woman who needs help to cross the street – or curbside park.
Imagine coming home to find your toilet has been fitted with Advanced Butt Wipe Assist Technology. Imagine that no store sells just a toilet anymore. Being able to take care of your business is one of those basic competences that separates adults from toddlers – and adults from older adults who do need assistance with that basic competence.
There is no shame in not being able to take care of your business – and it is fine and good that “assistance” is available for those who cannot. But is it not a degradation to treat everyone as if they were in need of such “assistance” and – worse – to make them buy it?
Things like Lane Keep Assist and Brake Assist – and all the other iterations of “assistance” – may have a place in some places, just as wheelchair lifts and hand controls have a place in some places. But the rest of us ought not to have to deal with such “assistance” anymore than we ought to have to deal with a robotic arm or some such attempting to take care of our backsides for us after a number two.
Perhaps the most insufferable iteration of “advanced assistance technology” is that which is styled Pro. As in Pro Pilot Assist (to cite one of several iterations of this usage currently in use by various car companies). It is etymologically jarring to the literate ear to find this prefix used when it is used to denote exactly the opposite thing. If you are a “pro” at anything then the very last thing you are in need of is “assistance” with that thing.
A “pro” at backing up a trailer, for example, does not need Trailer Back-up Pro technology. A person who hasn’t mastered the skill of reversing a trailer does – because he is an amateur.
The binary opposite of a “pro.”
All of this “assistance” serves to turn the generations raised with it into people who need it – in the manner of a toddler who never learns to wipe his own butt because someone was always “assisting” him with this task – right through to adulthood.
Soon – courtesy of the Biden Thing (who probably needs “assistance” in the butt wiping department) we will have cars that “assist” us right to the side of the road. They will stop driving altogether when they decide we’re not driving in the Approved Manner. It will be the ultimate form of driver “assistance” technology – and we’ll be very far advanced, indeed.
. . .
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