The End Of The Car?
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
2017-11-29 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 453 references Ignore this thread
The End Of The Car?
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There is circulating a "note" making the claim that we are basically at the end of the car era, much like we wound up at the end of the horse era.

That of course doesn't mean there are no horses.  There are; the moderately (and more-so) wealthy still own them for sport and pleasure, but other than the Amish nobody owns them for basic personal transportation whereas they were essentially the only means of same decades ago.

The argument is that driverless "cars" (really a box that moves people and can be called on demand) will appear and basically take over.  First slowly, like cars did, and then more-or-less all at once.

In other words not long from now (months, really, if you're in parts of Arizona!) you will start to be able to hail what amounts to a robotic taxi -- with no driver in it at all.  As the technology improves and expands people will start to voluntarily eschew owning a car in favor of hailing rides in driverless vehicles; arguably mostly for economic reasons.

Oh by the way, if you're one of the half-million or so who currently drive for Uber, Lyft, or a conventional "taxi" or "black car" service -- you're all out of a job the that transition really starts to accelerate.  Keep that in mind as you continue to read onward....

At some point the accident rate disparity between the choice of car ownership and driverless "hail and get in" vehicles will cause the government to either ban driving or it will get so prohibitively expensive, either by insurance regulations or outright government taxation in some form, that only the very wealthy will retain the option (as is the case now for horses.)

You may see benefits here.

I see grave danger.

The freedom to travel has always been one that has centered around some form of personal transportation.  For roughly 100 years after this nation was formed it was mostly from horses.  Now it's mostly from personal motor vehicles.  There is in fact an actual court case that says that driver licensing is illegal for personal transportation as personal transport of one's body and personal effects using the common means of the day is a fundamental liberty secured by the US Constitution.

That all disappears like a fart in a Church if transportation as a service becomes not only a dominant theme but actually required to be used either by sky-high costs or government dictate.  With transportation becoming centered around a handful of large and in many cases government sponsored and regulated companies the ability to effectively bar someone from traveling where they wish, when they wish will become trivial and, you can be assured, wildly abused.

You will be able to be trivially prevented from going where you want, when you want or even going anywhere at all.  You will have no recourse if it happens to you or if your travels are "redirected" or prohibited outright on the whim of said firms or, for that matter, at the whim of the government.

Don't get me wrong -- as I get older and more-frail there will come a point where the ability to hail such a device will look pretty darned attractive to me.  Perhaps I personally, at that point, won't care because the alternative is that I will be unable to operate a personal motor vehicle using my eyes, hands and feet.

But to those who believe this will be some great societal advance, let me issue a warning that I hope doesn't become prescient: You're going to all rue the day this happens and the majority of the persons in this nation at the time will be rendered effective slaves as a consequence and you will be imprisoned or killed if you resist.

There are ways around this outcome, of course.  If self-driving technology is used to make possible the purchase and ownership of truly autonomous vehicles that are owned by individuals and which do not require external control be enabled and available to other than the owner the problem can be largely mitigated.  But make no mistake -- there are plenty of individuals in government and corporations who will work mightily behind the scenes in an attempt to make damn sure that the ordinary, non-wealthy individual will never be able to buy such a device, and that there will be no such thing as an autonomous vehicle that will be solely under the individual owner's control -- ever.  Even the current Tesla models are not under your control as an alleged "owner"; the company can in fact brick them remotely, temporarily or permanently and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

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