Why The Hard-Sell For The "Self-Driving" Car?

Tyler Durden's picture

Via EricPetersAutos.com,

Why the hard-sell for self-driving cars?

This week, Ford and Volvo announced they are forming a “coaliton” – along with Google – to push not only for the development of self-driving cars, but for federal “action” (their term) to force-feed them to us.


The reasons are obvious: There’s money – and control – in it.

To understand what’s going on, to grok the tub-thumping for these things, it is first of all necessary to deconstruct the terminology. The cars are not “self-driving.” This implies independence.

And “self-driving” cars are all about dependence.

The “self-driving” car does what it has been programmed to do by the people who control it. Which isn’t you or me. Instead of you controlling how fast you go, when to brake – and so on – such things will be programmed in by … programmers. Who will – inevitably- program in parameters they deem appropriate. What do you suppose those parameters will be?

“Safety” will be the byword, of course.


But the point being, you will no longer have any meaningful control over (ahem!) “your” car. You’ll pay for the privilege of “owning” it, of course. But your “ownership” will not come with the right to control what you “own.”

It will be a tag-team of the government and the car companies who control (and thereby, effectively own) “your” car.

And thereby, you.

Not only will how you drive (well, ride) be under their control, they will also know where and when you go. It will be easy to keep track of you in real time, all the time. And if they decide they don’t want you to go anywhere at all, that’s easy, too. Just transmit the code and the car is auto-immobilized.

You only get to go when you have their permission to go. It will be a very effective way of reducing those dangerous “greenhouse gas” emissions, for instance.


If this all sounds paranoid, consider the times we live in. Reflect upon what we know for a fact they are already doing.   

For instance, making the case – in court – that we (the putative “owners” of “our” vehicles) ought to be legally forbidden from making any modifications to them. The argument being that such modifications could potentially affect various “safety” systems and they do not want to be held liable for any resultant problems that may occur.

This argument easily scales when applied to the self-driving car, which we will be forced to trust with our lives at 70 MPH.

For at least 30 years now – since the appearance of anti-lock brakes back in the ‘80s – the focus of the car industry has been to take drivers and driving out of the equation. To idiot-proof cars. This is easier – and more profitable – than merely building cars that are fun to actually drive.

How much profit margin has been added to a new car via (6-8) air bags? We pay more for the car, more to repair the car (and so, more to insure the car).

This also scales.


The technology that will be necessary to achieve the “self-driving” car is very elaborate and very expensive.

Thus, very profitable.

Which by itself would be fine… provided we could choose. But we will be told. Like we’re told we must have 6-8 air bags and all the rest of it.

This is the “action” Ford and Volvo and Google are seeking.

I personally have no doubt that, in time, they will make it illegal to own a car that is not “self-driving.” Well, to actually drive the thing. Static museum displays may still be permitted.

Tesla, the state-subsidized electric car – already has the necessary “self-driving” technology and Elon Musk is pushing it, hard. He says it’s a gotta-have because people cannot be trusted to drive themselves. There’s a clue for you as to the mindset of our masters.

But the current price of the least expensive Tesla is just under $70,000.

This is not economically viable when the average family’s income is in the neighborhood of $50,000. And keep in mind, that means half the people to the left of average make less than $50,000.

They cannot afford to buy $25,000 cars.

But maybe they can afford to rent them.

This appears to be where we are headed. The perpetual rental. It makes sense, too – from an economic point-of-view. Why buy that which you don’t really own because it’s not under your control? It would be absurd to buy the bus that you ride to work in. It is arguably just as absurd to buy the car you are driven to work in, too.


The object of this exercise appears to be perpetual debt-servitude as well as placing almost everyone fully and finally under the complete control of the powers that be. Who are no longer just the powers in government. The distinction between state power and corporate power is so blurry now as to be almost impossible to parse. The two are effectively the same thing, working hand in hand for their mutual benefit.

Remember Il Duce:

All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

Sadly, there is no push back. Or doesn’t seem to be. The cattle appear to like the idea of being herded. It is depressing.

The passivity and acceptance of it all.

Must be something in the water.

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Hohum's picture

Two feet or two wheels anyone?

logicalman's picture

Been 2-wheelin it for 5 years now.

Fit as a butcher's dog and financially much better off.

I need a car about 3 days a year but I refuse to pay for one 365 just for that.

There's always a work around.

tc06rtw's picture

 …  I expect the big
 unspoken selling point is:  it’ll be legal to travel fucked up!
 You’ll be able to get crocked,  go out “clubbing”,  stop by your dealer’s  and end up back home, safe & sound.
AND  next morning,  it’ll drag what’s left of you back to work, hangover and all.

JohnG's picture

I'll be banging hot chicks at 70 mph on my way to town, (and back).

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

That little Google car says the speed is capped at 25 mph.  Hope you aren't needing to get anywhere in a hurry.  And it will go 140 if you speak poorly of the government and impact the nearest large tree or concrete wall.

The Once-ler's picture

 …  He’ll be bumpin’ lukewarm broads at 25 mph, halfway to town.

UnpatrioticHoarder's picture

The insurance premiums for self-driving will be huge. "Are you sure? You want to drive your own car?! Isn't that a bit dangerous?"

In time self-driving cars will dominate the roads and start coordinating with each other in such a way that human drivers are an obstacle and a menace.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Self-driving cars are not selling when you can not even afford to eat. Go ahead gubbermint, waste more of my money you bastards!!

tmosley's picture

You can rent one for maybe 50 cents a mile. Less than the cost of ownership of a human driven car, due to not needing insurance (the manufacturer is liable for crashes as there is no human error to produce liability for the owner).

Also, we are pretty well past the likelihood of not being able to get food to eat, absent a major Bernie upset in the coming days. America simply makes too much food for Americans to go hungry, even in a hyperinflation type event. Europeans are less food secure, though.

Calmyourself's picture

That could change incredibly rapidly..

True Blue's picture

It is only food once it reaches your table; before that, it is freight. Supply chains matter.

And that is one of the -if not The- real primary focus of this. Commercial trucking, and That is why Volvo is joining forces in this.


RyeWhiskey's picture

Logan's Run is being implemented. You won't escape the Dome, slave.

John Kich's picture

It's the greatest threat global security has ever faced. EMP ATTACK!

All the weapons in the world won't matter once this small army kick into gear!


Bendromeda Strain's picture

America simply makes too much food for Americans to go hungry, even in a hyperinflation type event.

You misspelled corn...

Itinerant's picture

I like the self-immobilizing thing. Think of what that will do for "shaping traffic flows". Hell, I bet instead of toll they'll be asking you to hand over the speed of your vehicle to access notoriously busy roads.

And think of what you can achieve by staggering the traffic over time by determining when someone can/may drive?

Normalcy Bias's picture

Ridin' Dirty in The Shaggin' Waggon!

Better tint those windows....

Buster Cherry's picture

 Just don't ride it thru Brenham, Texas. THEY WILL RUN YOU DOWN


oh....you meant a bicycle, right?

adanata's picture



It's good to be old.. fuck 'em.

FrankDrakman's picture

Absolutely! I live in Toronto, where biking is difficult and dangerous 4 months a year, but from April 15 to December 15, I'm out on two wheels as well.

In less than ten minutes walk from my house, I have two subways stations, Car2Go, ZipCar, and AutoCar services, and two full-scale car rental agencies. 

Do I need to buy a car with all the hassles, including parking, or just rent one for the few times I need one? The latter option becomes faster, easier, and cheaper every day. 

JRev's picture

And therein lies why the "self-driving car" bullshit will never be a global phenomenon. Perhaps in Western slave populations, but not in Asia, where there's infinitely more scooters than cars and always will be. 

tmosley's picture


Author shows fundamental lack of knowledge with regards to modern technology, especially AI, and can be safely ignored.

Doomboners downvote away, but this tech is no more controlling than Uber, ie you tell the guy where you want to go and he goes, and you can sit back and relax.

ClydeCrashcup's picture

No, his point is that a self-driving car fundamentally takes control and/or posssession away from the individual and puts/takes it in the hands of others, as most other trends in our society are doing as well ("the cloud", anyone?).

tmosley's picture

I think we should get rid of computers and the internet because the government might use them against us.

ClydeCrashcup's picture

And I think you're an idiot, who should not be allowed to drive OR use a computer.

tmosley's picture

Ah, I see you are a fascist. Now it is all clear. You hate technology because it makes us free, and you want us all to be slaves.

Cabreado's picture

Hey, you're both right, so it's not worth the squabble.

As always, it's not about the technology; it's about the exploitation of it, and the opportunity to manipulate and control.

(And RiverRoad asks... "Is there anything else we can't do for ourselves anymore?"

Yes, there is: 'We' can't discern the two...)


ClydeCrashcup's picture

Over the last 10 or 15 years, at least, I see a lot more technology (in the hands of corporations and government [if there's even a difference anymore]) making me LESS free than more free.  Wake up and smell the 1984 coffee, tmosley.

tmosley's picture

Really? Because it seems to me the internet has made us all a LOT more free, with access to information that we could never have had before.

But hey, you've been here for three weeks. You know everything there is to know about everything, right?

You DO know what you are sitting in front of a viewscreen pulled straight out of 1984, right?

Be more afraid. That's how government likes it.

ClydeCrashcup's picture

Be more blindly trusting, gullible and ignorant.  That is REALLY how the government likes it.

And no, the internet has NOT made us more free.  It has simply made us more aware of just how unfree we really are.

MisterMousePotato's picture

Interesting. I forget sometimes that new people sign up here and start trying to reason with the likes of tmosley. Hey, Clyde ... there's this guy named Flakmeister who's on the fence about globull change or something. Maybe you can help him out.

RiverRoad's picture

From self-flushing toilets to self-driving cars.  Is there anything else we can't do for ourselves anymore?

tmosley's picture

My toilet "wipes" my ass for me.


Only cost $25 for the bidet attachment. Really nice, and gets you far cleaner than TP ever could. Also, don't have to worry about stocking up on TP in anticipation of an economic collapse. Just need to maintain water pressure.

Also helps a LOT with elderly and disabled care. Eliminates the need to have to deal with 95% of the literal shit that comes with taking care of someone who can't use the restroom on their own. Adult diapers+bidet deal with the other 5% with much less hassle/contact with stinky stuff. All those taking care of elderly parents or step parents should take note.

It's not about things we "can't" do, it's about things we don't "want" to do. I view driving on a road with other idiots who shouldn't be driving about like I view using soft paper to wipe shit off of skin in a hard to reach place. I can do it if I have to, but I'd rather not, especially when the alternative is actually less expensive (already made back my investment on the bidet attachment from not buying so much TP).

Beatscape's picture

Fascinating, rather than enjoy the thrill, self-determination and mastery of learning to do power slides in a Porsche 911, you'd rather be chauffeured by an automobile controlled by Big Brother puttering around at 33 MPH like a herded cow while having your ass wiped by a mechanical hand.  Sounds like you have the initiative of one those 350 pound corpulent losers who shops at Walmart for video games.

RiverRoad's picture

Wow.  $25.00!  Such a deal....an ass-wipe for the masses!  Is Toto still in business?

Bendromeda Strain's picture

I view driving on a road with other idiots who shouldn't be driving about like I view using soft paper to wipe shit off of skin in a hard to reach place.

Ah, so the tell is revealed. You don't want one so much as you actually do look forward to forcing others into one. Thanks for letting us know.

My toilet "wipes" my ass for me.

Not high enough, apparently.

Freddie's picture

Mike Judge's hilarious Silicon Valley makes fun of stupid self driving cars:


Starts about 11:55 minutes.  I do not watch f****king TV but find this show free on the web.  TV and Hollywood suck.

PT's picture

tmosley:  No.  You are totally ignoring the evidence that the computer industry has given you for the last 30 years.
Sure, the first models might be okay, just to suck everyone into buying one but after that, if self-driving cars come into the world then the evidence suggests that:

Every year the On-Switch will be in a different location and operated in a different manner.
For some unknown reason the car will need to idle for ten minutes before it can drive and will idle for ten minutes before it turns off.
While taking you to an important apppointment, the car will suddenly stop in the middle of the road and start downloading "important" updates (now loading 6 of 264...) and Anti-virus software.
Every week, with or without you, the car will drive itself to the mechanic for some "important service adjustments".
The car will come pre-programmed to drive you either to work or to one particular shopping mall, and if you want to go anywhere else?  Well, that costs extra.
The car will supposedly choose the shortest or fastest route to go where-ever it is taking you according to traffic conditions, but for some reason a simple ten minute route will end up going through cross-country and through a few of the most expensive toll roads.  You will not be able to choose your own route.
Advertisers will have more control over your car than you.  For a fee, third parties will be able to make your car drive past any location whenever you go out.
For some unknown reason, after six months the car will forget all your favourite destinations and you will have to buy another upgrade.
A leaf will blow onto the road so the car will stop and refuse to run it over, but you won't be able to get out of the car and move the leaf because the car will lock the doors "for your own protection".
If you don't wear a seatbelt then the car will automatically fine you and deduct the money from your credit card.
Likewise, if the car picks up too much speed while rolling down a hill then it will automatically deduct a speeding fine from your credit card.
Too many breaches and the car will simply park itself on the side of the road and wait for a self-driving tow-truck to tow it to the impound yard.
If you decide to wind a window up or down, the car ask you, "Are You Sure (Y/N)?"

Other evidence would suggest that these cars will never become personal cars.  People who love cars want to be able drive them and choose how and where to drive them.  I, for one, can not see the point in buying a car that I can not control.  Some people like to be drivers.  Other people just want to be passengers.  Some people understand the joy of driving.  Other people just want to get from A to B.  I believe the "Other" people will end up dictating where this market goes.  To "Encourage" the adoption of Self-Driving Cars (SDC), other cars will mysteriously become prohibitively expensive to buy.  (This is already happening.  Haven't you noticed car prices these days?)  The "Other" people will be happy to buy SDCs because they don't love cars, they just want to get from A to B, but then they will "Realize" that if they don't own a car then they don't need a garage to put it in and they will be happy to just hire a car when they need one.  Given that the "Other" people have no emotional investment in cars, manufacturers will not be able to customize and charge a premium on SDCs.  Sure, cars will need all the Mod Cons to be accepted, but those Mod Cons have been commoditized.  What prevents the "Other" people from just hiring taxis all the time right now?  Cost.  So the question becomes, will SDC hire become competitive with SDC purchase?  People will simply give Google a calendar with their schedule on it and a car will appear at their doorstep at the correct time.  (Correct time?  Err, that's the theory.  And it will work in the early days of the system.  If you want a parallel from the recent past, how are those BoredBand, I mean "Broadband Speeds" working out in your area???)  There will even be "Friends" and "Share" options for automatic car-pooling, and discounts for agreeing to share with a stranger.  Am I Psychic or what?  I can even see future newspaper articles about how people are "choosing" not to own a car so they can rent out the garage so they can pay off their house.  And a future where cars fine you for not being where you said you would be when you said you would be there because now you have made three other people late.  Hell, it might even use 3% of the fine money to compensate the other passengers (it'll probably just give them "Bonus Miles").

I hate to say this because normally things aren't this clear but sometimes when you've seen enough of the past, the future starts writing itself.

tmosley's picture

Your problem is that you make up shit without thinking about it.

If any of that shit you said were to happen, there would be no more market for self driving cars outside of maybe a few taxi services. No-one would want to own one, and without a widespread install base, it is politically impossible to make it mandatory. This isn't something like flying that we don't have to do very often.

Further, there would be no government interest in making self driving cars shitty like that. It would utterly destroy the economy if everyone was stopping on the side of the road all the time. Same reason they can't shut off the internet.

Also, you, like everyone else that seems completely dead set against even the possibility that someone else might want one of these, completely misunderstand the underlying technology. This isn't logical computing that can be hacked or get a virus. This is a neural net. It is a completely different animal, and can no more be hacked than your brain can (less so actually, there isn't a drug-type interface on these that can modify function like there is with our brains).

Beatscape's picture

Hilarious, you really believe that a "neural net" computing system can't be hacked!?  ANY computing system can be hacked and controlled at least by the people who designed it and designed the systems on which it runs.  There is always a back door and a way to bring any system to its knees.  I work in computer security, by the way.

Bendromeda Strain's picture

FFS - you can't peruse a magazine rack without some idiot pop-sci magazine splashing a "Hacking Your Brain!" cover story. Mosley must have volunteered, he/she/it has lost the plot while away on its ZH sabbatical.

EddieLomax's picture

If this shit happened now then sure, the self driving car would be dead.

But imagine it happening after the majority of cars are self driving and legislation is warped to promote them, adding extra restrictions to the "less safe" normal cars.

It is like most markets, years ago everyone could buy a good quality manual lawn mower, but then cheap crap from Japan then Korea and then China took over the market.  Initially they were at a decent quality, but once they muscled out the old manufacturers they fought among themselves to increase profits while chipping away at quality.

Today if you want a good quality manual lawn mover you pay 300 ukp, a cheap crappy one sells for 60-80 ukp and falls apart after a year or two of light use.  The lesson is that if those shitty lawnmowers had turned up day one they would never have taken over the market, but they started off okay until they drove the established models out of the market and then rose prices when everything left was selling niche numbers.

ClydeCrashcup's picture

Best comment of the day!


tmosley's picture

"Because it agrees with me!"

ClydeCrashcup's picture

And not with your utopian technocornucopianism?

PT's picture

tmosley:  You could only be that stupid if you really were born yesterday so why do you really choose to close your eyes?  The other guy summed it up perfectly when he said, "Windows 10".

Beatscape's picture

Agreed. +10 to PT's response.

BarkingCat's picture

Why is Microsoft going to be making this car?

OverTheHedge's picture

People use their cars for an average of 1 hour per day, so logically, it could be out and about earning you money for the other 23 hours. Uber on steroids? Self-funding car ownership? You may find you reduce your car use, just to get more taxi-fare income, without lifting a finger.

Of course, YOU won't be allowed to own a public taxi, only corporate types who have thousands of units will be allowed that privilege.

 -Then there is the tragedy of the commons - send your beloved car out on the streets like the pimp that you are, and some low-life will treat her very poorly indeed. I can see car-tipping becoming a teenage pastime, especially as they insist on these tiny little bubble cars.

And what about me? Today, I nipped into town like a good little commuter, then went to the animal feed store and put half a ton of sacks into the back. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday (don't ask), so out on the razzle for sheep-on-a-stick with mucho vino, then drive home half-cut, but on Monday I load up with 1,000 litres of water in a tank and a pressure sprayer, and go off-road big-time. My life doesn't fit into commuter sheep world, but I bet I will be forced to either own/rent several different vehicles, or at the very least make my battered old pickup self-driving. Someone posted a link about Yamaha making some robot-type thing to ride a motorbike, pretty successfully. This might actually be the way forward, as I would love to send the car shopping on its own, but I still get to do all the exciting off-road craziness without help.

Either way, I see bigger payments for less useability in my driving future, because government will be involved.

BTW Greek driving is insane-if ever there was a country where mandatory self drive cars should be enforced, this is it. For the sake of the chillun (did I get that right?).

PT's picture

Re "People use their cars for an average of 1 hour per day ..." :

But most people use their cars during that same one hour  (Okay, peak traffic probably goes for about four or more hours these days, so adjust accordingly.)