A Car for the people, but without the people

Google Beetle

Tout pour le peuple, rien par le peuple

We’ve been talking about Google’s driver-less car for years and suddenly: Surprise! We’ve all realized that, of course, the car needs neither a steering wheel nor pedals nor, in fact, YOU. Yes, driver-less means that the driver (you) is but an option.

Who knows why Google decided to pursue a driver-less car! Journalists and tech pundits speculate that it is because if you need not drive you can travel surfing the internet and— therefore—increasing Google’s revenues plus its knowledge of you. It might also be for pure altruistic reasons or just for the sake of completeness. According to Wikipedia, the need for a car like the Volkswagen Beetle and its functional objectives, were formulated by Adolf Hitler, wishing for a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for the new road network of his country… It rings a bell.

Whatever the reason, the driver-less car get rid of the human in an activity that might be a burden for some of us, but it is in fact a pleasure for others. And now that I think about it, I can perfectly imagine that hunting, for example, might have also been a pleasure for many of our ancestors and that, thanks to progress, it went down the drain like driving is today. Some ancient Google decided that hunting was too dangerous or too inefficient to be worth suppressing from our lives.

Humans adapted and found new activities that made up for the time we didn’t spend hunting any more, and we will find new activities to make up for the time we will not spend driving any more…. unless we have too many driver-less initiatives too quickly.

Imagine a world where you need not drive, you need not cook, you need not in fact look for information because a personal assistant is doing it all for you, recommending everything and curating everything. In fact, you might not need watch any film or read any book if you don’t want to because your assistant will be able to watch 100 films and read 1.000 books every day and can provide you with a summary or, eventually, give you a recommendation:

You might read this paragraph and watch this scene, thought in fact of course you need not…

In fact, you need not because we used to read books and watch films because we wanted to learn about other people’s experiences or about things we needed to know in order to do something else. But in a world in which we all belong to an extreme digital leisure class, who cares?

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