Prideful delusion is an interesting and important human phenomenon, with obvious Freudian origins and still-huge ability to pass without serious criticism in a supposedly ultra-informed, seriously democratic society. Foaming, torch-carrying neo-confederates say they aren’t racist. The Ford Motor Company, one the major purveyors of the machine that obviously and aggressively undermines its own feigned concerns (cities and the human future) dares to pontificate (and fudge) about “The City of Tomorrow.” Witness:
Notice the tagline there on the Youtube page: “For the first time in our planet’s history, half of the world’s population lives in cities.” Are suburbs cities? Yes, according to Ford, but no according to actual logic. Yet those are the massively unsustainable, fastest-growing places in which the majority of the U.S. population now lives, thanks to Ford and the rest of our car-addicted corporate overclass.
Seems robocars are already producing negative effects in existing drivers’ behavior. Per Automotive News:
“Without question, technology is making drivers lazier and less attentive,” said Mike Harley, group managing editor at Kelley Blue Book. “Most of today’s digital ‘driver assistance’ features are designed to overlay basic driving skills, which relaxes the driver’s sense of responsibility.”
A University of Michigan study showed that may already be the case. The school recently conducted research for an automaker concerned with how people are using blind-spot detection systems that alert drivers with chimes and warning lights when another car is in a difficult-to-see area. The study found a significant increase in drivers failing to look over their shoulder to check for themselves when changing lanes.
A future of robocars — itself far from a proven outcome, thanks to the very skills it would have replace — would mean the loss of the amazingly complex body of lifelong learning and knowledge that now goes into live, person-controlled motor-vehicle operation. Automation, you see, erodes human capabilities.
The question of what forces are most deeply behind the apparent madness for “self-driving” automobiles is complicated and interesting. Certainly, the good old desire to pile more mark-uppable parts into cars, which have always been one of corporate capitalism’s two great platforms for maximum commodification of life (the other being the single-family surburban house, itself mostly an offshoot of the rise of the private automobile), is one major factor. And, given corporate capitalism/market totalitarianism’s inherent problem of advancing commercial saturation of life spheres, the overclass is also certainly eager to gain heightened access to people’s drive-time attentional processes.
Another force is the PR need to paint the hugely outdated automotive-industrial complex look like it’s somehow “cutting edge,” rather than the patently obvious (albeit unmentionably so) planet-endangering dinosaur that it is.
In any event, you know you’re in a decrepit empire when the only discussable answers to problems are further redoublings of past pipedreams/disastrous wrong turns. “Self-driving cars” is absolutely just such a phenomenon.
It has long been asserted, across the political spectrum, that the great American majority want cars, cars, and nothing but cars.
Among our social classes, that inflexible attitude is, in actuality, held only by the overclass, those “primary beneficiaries” (quoting business historian Alfred D. Chandler) of corporate capitalism, who are certainly very far from a majority of the U.S. population.
Despite a century of indoctrination by these vested interests, and notwithstanding the near total neglect of proper analysis and leadership from the would-be left, and notwithstanding the big swath of automotive insanity that admittedly exists within it, benighted car-lust is not held by the actual majority, meanwhile.
Evidence of this lack of ascribed unconcern abounds, if ones bothers to look for it. Here is one recent and imortant piece of actual thoughtfulness among the masses:
The New York Times editorial board today blithely states the two foundational axioms of the quasi-official “liberal” view of sustainable transportation: 1. That it is an important topic, so long as the alternatives are cars, cars, or cars. 2. “Electric” cars, if somehow fully implemented, will somehow be sustainable.
ROFL times a million.
Meanwhile, the million-and-first laugh is that one of the NYT’s main complaints about existing trends is that the GHG emissions of the US transportation sector have now surpassed those of the electricity-making sector! In response to this event, the paper of records calls for us to continue using 95-percent-idle, 4,000-pound piles of complex materials for our everyday locomotion, but to do so by making them run on electricity!
Orwell didn’t get the half of it. In market totalitarianism, Doublethink is not only beyond rife, but spouted by the elite without the smallest hint of second thought.
Our grandchildren, should they somehow retain print literacy, will undoubtedly be disgusted with our stupidity in the face of the preposterous wishful thinking about “electric” automobiles that was used as such obvious haloware in our time.
Meanwhile, per Automotive News, there’s this, the real driving plan behind the “electric” trickery:
In the first half of 2017, light trucks accounted for 63.1 percent of U.S. [auto] sales.
General Motors, it says, is the “First Company to Use Mass-Production Methods for Autonomous Vehicles.”
In a society that had either the rudiments of a sane attitude toward transportation or actual journalism, this shameless howler would be getting rightly trashed. Instead, of course, GM’s ridiculous PR claim is generating the usual straight reprints of its press release, under the desired, predictable headlines:
General Motors: We can mass-produce self-driving cars now
Notice the slip from GM’s “mass-production methods” to the corporate news outlet’s “mass produce.” (Need we again mention the nature of the “electric vehicle” deception?)
Meanwhile, the vehicles in question — all 130 of them — are certainly not “self-driving,” as is demonstrated by this picture from GM’s own press release packet:
And, say, what do you imagine would happen to this contraption’s “self-driving” capacities upon the slightest ding to that rather extravangant roof rack? And how much would it cost to fix such problems? Nobody is mentioning such matters, of course. There’s much more loss-leading business to be done here, after all.
More evidence that so-called “EVs” are, in fact, haloware: The car corporations have thrown a successful tizzy-fit against an actual sales mandate in China. Per Reuters:
China agreed to delay an 8 percent quota for electric and hybrid vehicles by a year until 2019, an auto industry source said on Friday, in a major concession for German carmakers seeking to expand in the world’s largest auto market.
In a draft in September, Chinese policymakers proposed that 8 percent of automakers’ sales be battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2018, sparking protests from domestic and international carmakers.
After a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said a “solution” for implementing the quotas had been found, though he gave no details.
As part of a compromise deal, German carmakers who fail to fulfill the quota in the near term will be able to offset penalties by ramping up electric vehicle deliveries at a later date, the industry source said.
Gosh, I thought these folks were just dying to bring us all the very best in transportation technology…
Meanwhile, the report does contain one piece of stone-cold fact:
Maintaining and extending its current strong position in China is crucial for Germany’s auto industry, led by Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW, and its broader economy.
The most common cause of death in children under the age of 15 is unintentional injury, and the most common cause of unintentional injury is car accidents. Between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide — an average of 11 children a week. That number excludes pedestrians.
Here’s one your children and grandchildren will appreciate. It’s what the Democratic Party’s Congresscritter has to say about relaxing the rules for making and selling the machine that’s destroying the material basis for future civilization.
“Our bill makes simple changes so our manufacturers, suppliers, and workers can continue to make the best products in the world.”
This machine, of course, just happens to be the lifeblood of corporate capitalism and the unaccountable, decrepit overclass it sustains. Hence, such über-Orwellian stuff. “The best products in the world!”