Car and Driver, in its last two issues, has offered a Most Wanted list of “enemies of automotive culture,” in John Pearley Huffman’s words. One of the offenders is Google, for pushing self-driving cars:
There’s a certain phlegmatic beauty to the idea: issue a few voice commands and your vehicle safely and efficiently whisks you off to your destination. Meanwhile, you can call up this month’s Car and Algorithm on your tablet and read the latest comparison test of floating decimal points. Driving isn’t a chore crying out to be automated: it’s the greatest spiritual transformation of the last 200 years.
I’m not entirely sure about that whole “spiritual” thing, but despite the ginormous (and growing) expense, cars have something of value to contribute to the culture, as P. J. O’Rourke once noted:
Cars confer upon us the ultimate and most important of human freedoms. We can leave.
You could argue that you can leave just as well in the self-driving car, and maybe you can, but I’m just paranoid enough to think Google will give The Authorities a back door and the ability to override your instructions.