“When you are asleep at the wheel you never see the junkie with the bicycle sliding into the road.” — Vanderleun.
The automobile is both a prime symbol of, and the practical tool that makes possible, the freedom of the individual American. Jump in your car and just drive and you can put behind you all the bonds and troubles and obligations of ordinary human life. Get in your car, and you can be a thousand miles away, experiencing a completely different region and landscape, enjoying a completely different climate. The old mill closes down, and you’re thrown out of work? Hop in the car and drive off to somewhere that the jobs are.
But, of course, this experience of freedom and empowerment is only for rural and suburban Americans and the rich. People living in cities usually cannot keep cars. Parking is expensive and just plain unavailable in most parts of town. A car in the city is only an expensive nuisance and a hostage to fate. Take your eye off it, and somebody will rob the battery, the air bags, and the radio, possibly also your tires. Park in the wrong place, and the city will tow you, introducing you to a genuine, real-life Circle of Hell experience.
No wonder city-types so bitterly resent the automobile and the freedom others have that they don’t, and that undoubtedly has a lot to do with the ideology of junk science targeting the internal combustion engine so maliciously.
If you can’t simply ban the automobile altogether, forcing everyone (everyone not rich or part of the Nomenklatura, that is) to queue up, identity papers ready and at hand, to ride jammed together like sardines, breathing each other’s breath, smelling each other’s body odors, on public transportation, the grand egalitarian experience, then, the next best thing has got to be the self-driving car.
If Jones’s papers are not in order, if his fees and taxes aren’t paid, if his internal passport doesn’t give him permission to visit Peoria, well! Alexa will simply decline to carry him. If Jones is wanted for questioning or a new course in the proper language of Diversity, Alexa will fetch him directly to the police station with no nonsense about choice of destination.
It is only too easy to understand why the Left absolutely loves the idea of the driverless car. Personally, I think, for many of us, it will come down to actual armed resistance before we give up control of the wheel ourselves.
Spengler despises the crude scientism of it all, and he thinks we ought to be getting the torches and pitchforks ready.
That’s why Hollywood grinds out movie after movie about computers coming to life, programmers falling in love with their avatars, and so forth, starting with Steven Spielberg’s ghastly “AI” (2001). The liberal techno-utopians of Silicon Valley believe they are beneficent Dr. Frankensteins, creating the New Man.
And now we have video of the man behind the curtain.
The video shows a woman walking her bicycle across the highway: the Uber car was going at a good clip and coming over a rise. Not quite three seconds pass between the first sight of the pedestrian and impact, enough time for an alert human driver to spin the wheel. The human driver in the car was supposed to correct for machine errors, but the video shows one Rafaela Vasquez a/k/a Rafael Vasquez staring downwards until the moment of the crash. Reports Arizona’s 12News:
According to records from the Arizona Department of Corrections, the safety driver sitting in the front seat of a self-driving Uber in Tempe at the time of a fatal pedestrian crash is a convicted felon.
The driver, 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, served several years in prison under the name Rafael Vasquez. She was charged with unsworn falsification and attempt to commit armed robbery. She was released from prison in 2005.
The Wizard turns out to be an obese and indifferent minimum-wage employee with a prison record pretending to work while Uber pretends to pay him or her, as the case may be. …
It will take more than the avoidable death of Elaine Herzberg to persuade the public to light their torches and march on the castle of the Frankenstein wannabes. Nonetheless the disaster offers a teachable moment. The liberal obsession with arbitrary self-definition rests on the pseudo-scientific premise that we are the determinate, machine-like outcome of physical processes. Destroy this premise and the whole artifice of liberal thinking will crumble.