Will Our Progeny Be Autonomous (Robotic) Like Their Cars?

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.


I keep thinking of John B. Calhoun’s “mouse utopia” experiments.

In his most famous experiment in the series, “Universe 25”, population peaked at 2,200 mice and thereafter exhibited a variety of abnormal, often destructive, behaviors including refusal to engage in courtship, females abandoning their young, and homosexuality. By the 600th day, the population was on its way to extinction. Though physically able to reproduce, the mice had lost the social skills required to mate.

Humans need a frontier. Human “leaders” hate the frontier because it gives the “led” someplace to escape their enlightened governance.


I had the same exact reaction. Calhoun’s experiment conclusions, extrapolated to the scale of human society, are chilling.

The one saving grace is that maintaining all the modern conveniences that make possible autonomous driving, nearly instantaneous access to information, etc - require significant energy to be consumed. In that sense, the mouse utopia equivalent is impossible at human scale because of the growing energy demand required.


To address the OP’s question - no, our progeny and their descendants won’t be robotic like their cars. And in a practical sense, there are no fully autonomous self driving cars (yet). At best, current FSD models can autonomously navigate a very small percentage of the existing road network. It also doesn’t look like the prospects of further advances are that great, absent some new approach, the current Moore’s law driven scaling seems to have petered out.

Moreover, it’s also not clear that modern society in industrialized countries would have the wherewithal required to make the switch to nearly exclusive use of autonomous cars that will enable a shift to a shared autonomous vehicle framework under investigation (link to one of many papers in this area). I think it’s great to observe that with a known traffic demand matrix, one could provide similar levels of service to existing shared mobility solutions with far fewer cars, but extrapolating to the entire world is unrealistic.

Observing the many ways in which younger generations are not rising to the level of their parent’s expectation is a perennial problem as old as humanity. There are countless examples going back thousands of years in the past and there is a chance that will continue as well.

My take is that as long as biology continues to overcome ideology, we will be okay as a species. And if past (recent) examples of attempts to design new ways for society to work are any indication, we seem to fail at doing that well. For instance, Marx had an idea that communism would rearrange society and whenever that’s been tried, it resulted in painful failure at scale.


Well it cuts both ways as we see today with “OK, Boomer.” and as we saw in the 1960s “Never trust anyone over the age of 30.” aka “The Generation Gap”.

The point of inciting intergenerational warfare is to make way for the evolution of virulence of horizontal transmission of memes/indoctrination by disrupting the vertical transmission (parent to child) of memes/indoctrination. Congenitally individualist peoples are particularly vulnerable to this since their individual moral agency critically depends on departure from home to establish an independent homestead – as it does in all species that have not gone (or are not going) eusocial.