From the editor
What’s this? Another month, and another NZ4WD columnist ( this time the man behind TorqueTalk Ashley Lucas) pens a passionate plea against driverless or autonomous vehicles.
Must be something in it then. And indeed, there is.
The problem, if there indeed is one, is not in the vehicles themselves, or even the technology that allows them to do what they do. It’s in the way the bloody things are being marketed.
I can’t think of a time, in my lifetime anyway, where there has been such a ‘ disconnect’ between the reality we live, and the fantasy marketers are foisting upon us.
The best example I can think of, is the 1950s, when cars looked more like aircraft ( or aircraft carriers in the case of the ’ 59 Cadillac four- door) and in ‘ the future ( i.e. now!) we would all be flying gyrocopters to work.
Of course, that didn’t happen. And it’s my humble opinion that talk of us all being in driverless and/ or autonomous cars by the year 2030 is as fanciful.
The problem is the media. And it has been exacerbated by the swathe cut through traditional channels ( newspapers, magazines, broadcast TV, etc).
All used to have elaborate formal and informal checks and balances which evaluated ‘news’ for interest, objectivity and ( quaint as it might sound) public interest.
These, it would appear, have gone the way of the Dodo, once hugely profitable media companies now losing money hand over fist and ( as a consequence) getting rid of layers of backroom staff and replacing experienced senior reporters with kids straight out of college.
The latest manifestation of this flip-flop are fabricated ‘ false-news’ sites which spread like dandilion seeds in the wind via Facebook. While they might ‘ look’ like similar ‘ legitimate’ news sites every story is a fanciful construct created by its author, based, usually round some figure currently in the global limelight, like US President-elect Donald Trump.
While I’m not saying that ‘ driverless’ or autonomously driven cars fall into this particular boat I am saying what is missing in all the hyperbole is plain, simple old common sense.
Where once we would have been ‘protected’ from the full frontal assault on our senses which is a highly-funded and strategically planned campaign to soften us up, we are now being hit – repeatedly and at point blank range – via the very media outlets which once ( and not very long ago at that) would have prided themselves in sorting the wheat from the chaff on our behalf.
All this tech is all very well. But with one of the oldest car ‘ fleets’ of any developed nations, one of the most rudimentary national motorway networks ( i.e. generally city- only) and with one of the highest proportions of unsealed to sealed roads, driverless or autonomous cars are only ever going to be an oddity here in the foreseeable future.
Don’t write them off completely though, because as owners and passionate users of 4WDs we already benefit from a lot of handy hi-tech like anti-lock brakes, traction control, up and down hill assist, etc.
The bottom line?
There’s always going to be some sort for resistance to change, we’re only human. Yet we’d be cutting our noses off to spite our faces if we ignored EVERYTHING new or different that comes our way.
What we have to do in this case though, is keep our guard up, because when it comes to hype, the force around driverless and/ or autonomous cars is strong, and getting stronger each and every day!