Call me a Luddite.

    Rinderknecht says he envisages a future where car passengers will want to do the same kinds of things we today do to kill time on trains an airplanes.

Do you know how boring it is to have to kill time on an airplane? I suspect the idiom here is not selected at random. You literally do anything on an airplane to pass the time because you - or at least I - end up feeling stifled, trapped, out of control, and bored to tears. Whatever I select to do on a long flight usually is not entertaining for long enough for me to feel contented. Books get finished. I don't have the right attention span for movies. You are cramped into a somewhat uncomfortable position, can barely get up, cannot move freely, and are surrounded by strangers, which can be a little fun sometimes - or aggravating, tiresome, unnerving, and a number of other adjectives. At some point I am left drumming my fingers on the flat surface and looking around, missing entertainment and freedom, wondering what I can do next and feeling like it's not much.

Driving, on the other hand?

Oh my god I love driving. I love being behind the wheel. I could drive nowhere for hours a day. If gas were cheap I would absolutely do that. I love driving in no small part because I am the one behind the wheel. I view every time I drive as an opporunity to get better at driving. I like to think I'm good at driving - I certainly enjoy it - and I like feeling like I can get better. I like thinking about cars as marbles in giant tube systems, with hatches (stop signs) and springs (green lights), all of us clicking along different beautiful interconnecting routes as we travel. I love to look at what I can see when I drive - though frequently I'm engrossed by the road so I can't see much. I love empty back country roads where there's no one but me and I derive a lot of peace from this feeling. I love making patchwork quilts of Pennyslyvania roads in my head as I come across them, slowly expanding the network of broken-down roads I know until like a puzzle I can fit pieces together. This knowledge may be useless but I love it and it's not knowledge I could easily derive from a map, it's knowledge I gain and keep by doing. I can look at a map and see it, sure. But it only has meaning to me once I have crossed and recrossed miles of scarred blacktop. I love that point where you know a road well enough that you know how fast to take a turn, how fast you can take a turn. I love knowing if there's a sudden swoop ahead before you can see it. I love knowing roads like lines in my palms.

Why would you ever want to take that experience from me and give me the empty, bored, unchalleneged feeling of sitting in a plane or train, not in control of any element of the trip, a passive object sitting there and rotting? Why would you want to take active growth and engagement and replace it with the need "to kill time"? Of course, that's not what automated automobile manufactorers are thinking of when they design these cars. They are thinking of The Future! They are thinking of relieving people of unpleasant tasks.

I love driving. I go driving in order to think. If you simply put me in a box and I press a button and it takes me where I say I want to go it completely removes everything that I love about driving. Driving for me is a meditative state. They want to take my meditation and make it into twiddling thumbs.

Driverless cars, I conclude, are for people who care about getting to the destination - they are not for people who care about the journey.

You can have your driverless cars. You can keep 'em.

posted by theadvancedapes: 1998 days ago