The car zipped through an opening the size of a doorway, narrowly missing the other three vehicles vying to move in the same direction, adjusting to their presence with precision coordination and lightning reflexes that no “Drivers Ed” school could ever teach. Accelerating smoothly, we careened onward through the city’s dizzying traffic, without a concern for either safety or timeliness—both of which were guaranteed by the central operating system and the supercomputer behind the wheel.
Well, actually, as a technical matter there was no one behind the wheel. The vehicle was its own operator, of course, part of the first generation of truly “emancipated motorized units” (or EMUs, for short), and sold on the market as a new class of transportation devices called the Autonomobile. These vehicles were allowed to proceed without a driver per se, but they could not do so without a passenger. So the oddity was that the technology had simply moved the rider to a different seat in the carriage. Continue Reading
It has been said that realists see the world as it is, and idealists see the world as it might be. Count me firmly among the ranks of the latter. I project as a glass-half-full, rose-colored optimist living out loud. But I had neglected to consider that seeing things as they might be doesn’t always mean it’s all good.
I only mention this because the arc of recent events challenged my rosy worldview. I suppose you could say that it was a crisis of faith that animated my journey to this place. But that’s too convenient, casting the blame outward and making it seem as if faith itself had some sort of crisis. It didn’t. It was me. . .
The day began like any other, with the usual buzz of impersonal interchanges (black or with cream? plain or glazed? paper or plastic?) as I negotiated the sidewalks of the metropolis. People bounded along in an oddly rhythmic yet uncoordinated routine, gazes cast downward into their palms, with stolen glances approaching the horizon only intermittently in order to avoid stepping directly into traffic. As one of the few left scanning the scene with my head up, I could see the patterns within the multitude’s chaos. This perspective usually felt satisfying, morally superior even, and provided a kind of authorial omnipotence. Continue Reading