Today marks my five-year anniversary as an independent journalist /critic / evangelist /swashbuckler of autonomous vehicles. It’s also the day that I’m officially sidelining the topic to spend more time working on other projects.
It’s actually been months since I’ve penned anything AV-related, so this is a long time coming. I was inspired or prompted to write a half-dozen opinion pieces over that period, but I kept coming back to the reality that I’ve already said whatever I was planning to say.
I know there’s value — certainly selfish value — in humming the same tune until it becomes a hit song… but that’s not my style. I don’t want to be a talking head for this shit, or for anything frankly. If I’m up here with the same set list of arguments five years later, it means we’re all failing, and just going through the motions for some self-serving purpose. We’re all still a bunch of cavemen hurling our damaged beliefs at each other as a defense mechanism, and the more I fight, the shittier a person I become.
What I love about autonomous vehicles (and AI in general) is the opportunity they present to be more curious about ourselves, and in turn, to be more skeptical in our views of the conventionality such technology may disrupt. Transportation is a core function of society, which means it’s globally accessible material for thought and discussion. For me, the allure was never about cars, or even transportation — it’s about becoming a more scientific society. That’s why I started writing… and while it seemed for a brief period that my pieces were making an impact, it’s now 2020 and the same holes in our thinking still dominate both headlines and politics. To be clear, some of those holes are:
- That we shouldn’t bother planning for something until it’s imminent (this is, by definition, anti-planning)
- That technology should be measured against human standards, but that humans are above being standardized
- That the future is a static reality, rather than something we alter with every decision we make
- That intent and outcome are perfectly aligned, despite the sea of evidence to the contrary
- That the changes we make to our world ever finish changing