Technology will save us

February 26, 2020 § 7 Comments

I’ve heard people say that with the advent of autopilot technologies, car collisions will become a thing of the past, along with “accidents” involving cars and bikes, i.e. situations where a driver negligently hurts or kills a bicyclist because, latte.

Ah, yes, the eternal American optimism that technology solves all.

Unfortunately, our laissez-faire approach to death machines subjugates the potential of autopilot technologies to the primacy of profit, in this case, Tesla. This article in The Verge shows exactly why autopilot technologies aren’t going to save anything anytime soon. In one jagged, incomprehensible nutshell: There is no regulatory body in the U.S.A. that can develop and implement safety standards for autopilot technology.

The reason?

Corporations run much of the world’s economic and legislative machinery, and most especially, car corporations.

Buried in the article is the mention of LIDAR, a technology that could have prevented the death of the driver in the Tesla case. Of course Elon Musk claims that LIDAR is unnecessary for autonomous vehicles and that his proprietary autopilot system works fine. Except when it doesn’t.

One snide cyclist recently snarked, in reference to my rather dim view of automobiles, that “Cars are the enemy, right?” He, not coincidentally, works for a car company, but that aside, here’s my answer: “Yes. Cars and the infrastructure that support them are the single biggest threat to people and the earth.”

Cars make you fat. They encourage sedentary lifestyles which make you sick. They create stress. They waste time. They suck money out of social welfare projects, holding hostage things like education, healthcare, social security, and livable cities. They pollute the air and water. They contribute massively to global warming, whether run on gas or electricity. They separate people from the environment and from each other. Best of all, they create a geopolitical dynamic in which nations murder citizens of other nations in order to maintain hegemony over oil supplies.

There will soon be more cars on earth than people.

But don’t worry. Like Henry Ford before him, Elon’s gonna get you all fixed up.

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