Self-Driving Cars are Evil Incarnate

satanvolt Since they will likely reduce the number of households with automobiles parked in their driveways, why is the automotive industrial complex so happily tolerating the advance of autonomous (driverless) cars? The answer is explained by Stan Cox.

The key is boosting overall automotive vehicle miles traveled, above the existing wildly unsustainable level. Pretty much everybody who’s studied this topic is finding what car capitalists have obviously already figured out. Cox mentions the pertinent findings:

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased in all seven models (range of +12% to +68%)

Case-study results indicate that a system of SAVs may well save members ten times the number of cars they would need for self-owned personal-vehicle travel, but would incur about 11% more travel.

The overall point is that robotic cars are a move to perpetuate cars-first transportation by tricking individuals into thinking the problem — which has yet to be acknowledged as a political issue in the United States — goes away when one doesn’t personally own a car. In our society of sponsored solipsism and mis-perception, this is a major, clever, very evil trick.

Outdated Technology Worship

Our grandchildren, should we somehow figure out how to leave them a world still capable of such activities, will spend considerable time pondering how and why we allowed our overclass to keep pushing the reign of the automobile for so long after it was eminently clear that relying on moving 3,500 machines for every mundane urban travel task was a very bad idea indeed.

Some of their answer will have to acknowledge the continuance of shameless corporate dogma. Take, for instance, this howler:

So, computers are somehow going to defeat the spatial requirements of moving a 200-million-plus fleet of cars and trucks? Wanna bet?

Despite the silliness of the suggestion, it is a mistake to underestimate the impact of this kind of pie-in-the-sky propaganda. It is a powerful distraction.

Not Like Cigarettes?

ratcig This past week, Ford Motor Company scion Bill Ford hosted a dinner “for a small group of journalists at the Detroit auto show.”  The purpose?  To burnish Ford’s green claims, of course.

Highlights [via Automotive News]:

Ford has been thinking about “how we’re going to have mobility in a world of urbanization and 75 percent of the world’s population living in cities. We’re going to have 4 billion cars and 9 billion people by midcentury.

There are currently just over 1 billion automobiles, counting cars, trucks, and buses, on the planet, btw.

So, ROFL on that one.

Meanwhile, Bill Ford also told the assembled reporters that cars-first transportation isn’t like selling nicotine:

“I never wanted us to be like the tobacco [companies], where our employees would have to apologize to their family and friends for working there. If that happens, we are not going to get the best and brightest.”

It’s an interesting contrast, isn’t it? If Ford’s products are freedom vehicles and wonder machines, why this apparent slip into cigarette talk?

Perhaps it’s because Ford knows the numbers are rather comparably large and the deaths equally stupid. In the USA, lung cancer now kills about 160,000 people a year. If one assumes that tailpipe exhaust accounts for 25% percent of air pollution deaths and auto use accounts for 10% of deconditioning deaths, cars snuff out about half that amount every year.

And, of course, the era of war over access to tobacco-friendly climes has passed. Now, if there is to be a World War III, does anybody doubt it will instead have rather more to do with what goes into gas tanks?

Class Struggle?

odometer As Noam Chomsky observes, cars-first transportation in the United States “was not put to public judgment.”  Nor will it ever be, barring a popular rebellion addressing its existence.

But does that mean the population is as brain-dead on the topic as our many capitalism excusers would have you conclude?

Consider the news today that the average age of light vehicles in the United States has now reached an all-time high: over 11 years for cars, and slightly under that for “light trucks.”

No doubt much of that is simply a result of economic hardship among the bottom 90 percent.  But DbC would wager that some of it is also a sign of the rationality of the masses.  Why would anybody be buying — not to mention marketing — more cars at this point in human history?  Inquiring minds want to know.

That, of course, is a truly forbidden question.