Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

The Car of the Future

Let me tell you about the “Car of the future.”

I’ve been reading descriptions of the car of the future since I was little kid. So now the future is here, but apparently, the car isn’t. The easiest way to predict the future is to predict that it will be just like now, only more so. This will steer you in some odd directions from time to time. H.G. Wells saw that women were acting more and more like men so he predicted that in the future women would act more and more like men. In one of his visions of the future he predicted that some day women would smoke cigars and drink liquor along side men. He also predicted they would do it wearing hoop skirts. He was so right on one hand, and so wrong on the other, but both were reasonable conclusions from what he saw.

If we could see perfectly, the wise among us could always foresee the future. Being accurate about what the future will look like is as simple as truly seeing the present. The problem is that seeing without some kind of bias is impossible. Everywhere you go you will find that there you are. A man is the substance of his memories, the experiences we have have made us who we currently are. The experiences we are having right now will combine with what has already happened to make us who we will be tomorrow.

Long way around it, the future of cars is very odd, perhaps because cars touch every part of us. The jobs we have, the money we make, the people we meet, and the places we meet them at, all hinge on the car. We go to the grocery store in a car, to buy produce shipped there in trucks, made by farmers on tractors. For good or bad, the car is the blood of this age. Without it, the form remains, but the life is gone.

So predictions about cars become a sort of utopia. They touch so much of our lives that we reinvent ourselves by reinventing the car. I don’t like this but I accept it. Let me offer two cars of the future. One for the future I wish to see, the other for the future which is more likely. I’ll do my best to take an unblinking look into the collective heart of our society. First, the likely future.

The general trends I see in society are this:

Decreasing partnership between the generations.
The old are landed. The young are not. Such has it always been. Revolutions are always about the young usurping the old. Restorations are always about restoring the old. The way to prevent revolution is partnership between haves and have-nots. The way to cause revolution is exploitation between them. I see decreasing generational partnership in our society, combined with increasing generational exploitation.

Exploitation breeds fear. Fear breeds distrust. Distrust makes for misunderstanding. Misunderstanding leads to elitism. Elitism sours to hate. Hate is self corrosive. Self destruction is riddled with guilt. The more guilt, the more you hate others for not hating you as they should.

The people of the future seem to be this: a bunch of people with a secret and raging self loathing. Despising themselves first and everyone else next, they will not partner with anyone. They are afraid of themselves, of their partner, and the pain it will cause. Not having partnership open to them, the only way they can relate to others is shallowly or exploitively. They then hate themselves for this shallowness and exploitation. Seeing this within themselves, they see it in others, and constantly feel they are being marginalized and exploited.

So, cars are made for people. The car as a vehicle of obtaining pleasure is gone. The car is now a vehicle of acceptance and protection rather than a source of pleasure. This is a natural direction for a people who no longer have productive relationship with their parents. The car is no longer a porn star. The car is a mommy. Acceptance and warmth rather than sensual enjoyment will be the order of the day. The car of the future is founded on self loathing.

1. In all things, the car will be marginal and not great. Greatness is not something that small bitter people like to see. When they see true greatness it reminds them of their own failings.

2.The car will center around cocooning the soul. Since people feel that their constant exploitation places unreasonable demands on them, they will want a vehicle that will place no demands on them. Functions which are unnecessary, or rarely occur, will be automated so that no person has to leave the “womb” of the car. Automatic tire changing is on the horizon, as well as a great many other useless things that serve only to make the driver feel babied.

3. Though increasing in sameness, cars will continue to sell the concept of personalization. This personalization will not be focused on items which increase sensual enjoyment (such as ride quality or road feel) but on modifications purely of presentation. These things, such as lighting, font of displays, sound environment, and, probably in the near future, scent, will not enhance the driving experience in anyway. They will simply improve upon the illusion that the car is a womb.

4. Increasing fear of others will result in cars being sold with a 2 fold purpose: protecting the “good” people inside and harming the “bad” people outside. Competition in the market will push vehicles to be increasingly similarly shaped. Color and pattern will become the subtle way of injuring the hated. In a less subtle way, safety features which protect people from situations with extremely low probability will become more common. As the car as a transit machine fades and the car as mother gets stronger, greater and greater emphasis will be placed on low probability situations which have less and less to do with driving. Bullet proof glass will become the new hot “safety” feature. Sound deadening will be used not to block out engine noise, but to drown out any sound which connect the driver to others, such as ambient noise.

5. Environmental features will be sold with shame rather than with wonder. If a car could get say 100 mpg at 100 mph, this will not be pitched as the wonder of man against the cruel masters of physics. That approach would smack of the intrinsic greatness of man. No, environmental features will be sold with layers of guilt. The car will be sold to absolve guilt, not create greatness. No car in the line up of models will be permitted to have such great mileage that the bread and butter consumer is offended.

6. The encapsulation of the driver is complete, however, the passengers could still try to form a relationship with the others in the car. Personal entertainment for all passengers will be a selling point. Cable packages will be bundled with new car sales with the cable package tailored to each passenger. Ideally, these personal entertainment systems will place calls to restaurants and gas stations so that food and drink can be ordered without the messiness of face to face communication, picked up anonymously and “enjoyed” by each person in their private cocoon.

7. Regardless of future environmental or technological advances, cars will be as large as possible, and get as poor as mileage as the government and market allows. This is for all of the above mentioned reasons and this: Mommy does so much for you that it is distasteful to speak of not providing for mommy. Whatever mommy needs, mommy must have.

This is predicting the future is tiring and depressing. Perhaps I’ll write about my future in the future. ‘Night all.

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December 13, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. It’s funny. As I read your description of the future, I found it appalling and yet I know it’s what many might consider utopia. Everyone having their own entertainment pod in the car. Call ahead service so you never have to talk to a gas station manager every again. Bullet proof glass standard on all cars. I know people who would watch a movie about that future and be all happy and content. it makes me want to puke but you and I aren’t like most people, now are we?

    Comment by Becky | December 13, 2007 | Reply


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