As I was driving to physical therapy this morning, I was aware of my fallibility as a driver at age 78. I have remarked of late, that safe and competent driving demand much more of my conscious attention than they did when I was younger; then, driving seemed almost automatic and seemed to occur - if not at the level of reflex - in sub-cortical levels of the brain - as I consciously attended to other matters (I fly my flight simulator several times a week in an attempt to reduce the rate of cerebral senescence; it takes maximal concentration to fly an ILS approach down to Cat I minimums). It then occurred to me that one day in the not-too-distant-future, (if automobiles are still permitted to even exist outside museums), people will almost surely wonder how control of such kinetic, momentum-charged vehicles could possibly have been permitted to individual human beings. It is probable our progeny will be even less competent, more puerile and more dependent (in loco parentis) on the state than this society is today; state subjects will likely be devolved in their essential humanity at this future posited time, at least if their rulers continue to succeed in their tyrannical project.
I wonder: are self-driving cars metonymous for the future of individuals in society? Is this a synecdoche of sorts? In other words, is the evolution of cars’ ability to navigate the map analogous to and predictive of our future ability to navigate our own individual lives? Will the engineers at Tesla, Google, Meta, Apple, plus the (obviously fascist) state et.al. next lend their energies at stifling all of our life choices via algorithm? What with conspiring with the state to censor speech, and “training” LLM’s to spout “their truth” (and by definition anything else is mis-, dis-, or mal- information), they sure seem to be warming up to do precisely that.
There are some underlying serious philosophical and sociological questions here. After all, societies arose at times when not much was understood about how the world (or the universe) worked. One of the themes of scientific progress has been better understanding of the chain of causation - i.e. how my actions and those of others, similarly-situated, may have cumulative causal effects on others. Naturally, our control-freak betters have seized upon this circumscribed principle to acquire unlimited power over us through coercion afforded, for instance, by the “global warming” meme. Now, states everywhere are piling on with “benign” surveillance, “safety” and “national security” memes to complete the enslavement of every last one of us.
Notwithstanding these abuses of the self-appointed power-mad sociopathic elites, even libertarian-minded individuals like myself can’t help but recognize that society is far more “dense” than it once was. Not only are we more closely packed in the physical sense, but also in the causal sense. We better understand how one individual’s acts impacts others. Rationally, this does require some re-thinking how such understandings ought to be accommodated - sensibly - so as to balance the needs of our fellows (society at large) with principles of individual liberty, natural rights if you will - lest we become worker bees and drones reigned over by the new royalty.
I fear that, if the state does manage to regulate us into robots - like unto self-driving cars - if it succeeds at squeezing all the human juices out of us (as is their wont) - the product of the resulting hive will be anything but sweet. Life in such a society would be (to borrow Judge Bork’s favorite term) “bleak”.
In a world very different from today’s, one might imagine that a postmodern society could be designed and accomplished while preserving a modicum of human decency, agency and individual liberty; that is, actual diversity among humans. The designers of that society would have to be very different from those in power today. Such a thought experiment immediately reveals the stunning evil motivating most of today’s so-called leaders: it is instantly and glaringly apparent that their motivations emerge solely from the lust for power, not anything vaguely resembling civic virtue. As evidence for this stark assertion, I ask: recall your most recent interaction with any of the state’s minions - at the local, state or federal level - and ask yourself who was there to serve whose interests. Res ipsa loquitur.