Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, October 18, 2013

Google Unveils Driverless Car Future In the Driverless Bus Present

Classic: Privatized corporate transport exacerbates urban dislocations, competes with and so undermines still-necessary public services, can't scale or sustain itself on its own terms, and so Google responds to difficulties not by proposing better pay for drivers or more public investment in the communities of which it remains a part but by retreating into futurological fancies about robot bus drones in tomorrowland. I have criticized the futurological "Driverless Car" conceit as a Dead-Ender Car Culture Apologia, but one shouldn't forget the more usual narrative is also available should the implausible proposal actually come off in any substantial measure short of the utopian promises which are obvious moonshine: at best, the "driverless car" would amount to another profitable corporate repudiation of necessary public investment in sustainable mass transportation infrastructure (the earlier round being the catastrophic smashing of city streetcars and thriving urban neighborhoods to enable white racist traffic snarls to environmentally and economically unsustainable suburbia), together with yet another round of automation peddled as a democratizing distribution of leisure but cashing out inevitably instead as elite wealth concentration and another loss of jobs and lowering of buying power for the majority of people who work for a living.

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