Oh Goody

Here’s the future of the automobile, from former GM, Ford, and BMW executive Bob Lutz.

I love driving. Glad I got the chance, I guess.


  1. Issac says

    Fret not.

    For one thing, the infrastructure does not exist to support even a limited autonomous fleet, anywhere. A small army of engineers and untold billions of dollars would be needed to make even a small-scale implementation of this vision possible for demonstration purposes. 20 years would be fast-tracking a project like this. 5 years is an outright quack prediction.

    Secondly, despite all the hype autonomous navigation is still sub-par in all-weather conditions. This is not a simple question of tweaking algorithms, it is a matter of developing better sensors and combinations of sensors + remote communication at incredibly reliable speed in order to ensure safety. Again, I see no reason to suppose this is something to be worked out in a matter of less than a decade.

    Finally, the sheer volume of paradigm shifts implied is symptomatic of sophomoric utopian thinking. Changes from horse to automobile didn’t immediately usher in super-highways, auto insurance, and every other tertiary bit of driving accoutre ma. Evolution on that front was gradual, it it took most of half a century for the systems we now associate with modern driving to become mature and autonomous driving has yet to even produce a practical debut.

    This smells much more like a pump and dump maneuver on the part of Uber and Lyft than any serious assessment of the near-future of driving. Granted, in the long-run this vision could prove prescient. I see no reason why a more advanced automated driving system could not mostly supplant human drivers eventually, but that is certainly not a realistic part of the politburo’s five year plan.

    Don’t sell that horse and buggy just yet.

    Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  2. Dave says

    His vision of the future is a vision of hell. No more autonomy. Transportation companies will know exactly where you are going and have total control of your journey.
    Feel like going for a ride in the country, with no particular destination in mind ? Tough sh*t ! Not going to happen.
    Our betters have programmed our future as some sort of podtopia where your every movement is known by the all seeing eye.
    Exciting times ahead ?
    More like the film THX-1138. Take a look at the trailer online if you haven’t seen it. George Lucas’ first film.

    Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  3. Bill says

    Isaac and Dave said everything I would say only better. I would add that we have seen forecasts for the future any number of times that haven’t happened. It is fun to read vintage science fiction and see what was forecast in the stories for the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

    Posted November 7, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says


    Having spent a good deal of time in the Singularitarian community (the founding director of Singularity University is a friend of mine), I can say with some confidence that this is much more than “pump and dump”. “Singularitarian” sounds like the name of a religious sect, and indeed the similarities are striking — in particular the resemblance to “postmillenarianism”, in which the Second Coming is preceded by a thousand-year Golden Age. In the Singularitarian vision, that Utopia is to be brought about by technology.

    Anyway, I agree that the change will be an uphill climb. This sort of thing usually takes a generation, as those who appreciated the older world simply die off.

    Dave, I share all of these concerns: loss of autonomy (robocars would be externally controlled, coercively if desired), loss of privacy, loss of security (couldn’t the whole transportation network be susceptible to cyberattack?)

    Mainly, though: loss of fun. As I mentioned above, I love to drive.

    Posted November 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  5. JK says

    Do please Malcolm, keep up with how this progresses with particular attention toward testing.

    No way in hell I wanna be on Arkansas’ Highway 9 south outta Melbourne toward Mountain View (or points south toward Morrilton) when any such test occurs.

    Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

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