Five Things to Do in Your Driverless Car

I read an article on the Internet about driverless cars the other day, so I can only assume they are in The Coming Future. Google has apparently been trialling a model of driverless cars and has logged 300,000 accident-free hours, but never mind, here are five things to do in your driverless car:

1/ You look listlessly out the window at the passing traffic, still a mixture of driverless and driven (this would be the term we would use for human-operated vehicles) cars. Other people are looking listlessly at you, some of them are masturbating as though the whole of the traffic flow is a session on Chat Roulette. Nobody is sure what the etiquette should be, people are writing articles about it on blogs and in the New York Times. You have decided to have no opinion.

2/ You make a cup of coffee at the kitchenette installed where the car’s dashboard used to be. You prefer instant, though some have more complex set-ups. It’s still a pleasing novelty to boil the kettle of water – the same kind of kettle you have in your “real” kitchen at home. Hearing it bubble and watching the steam fog the windscreen still hasn’t failed to bring you into the present moment. You only fill your coffee cup half-way, to avoid spills, as you’ve seen flight attendants do on airplanes the few times you’ve flown somewhere.

3/ You have directed your driverless car to a randomly chosen set of GPS coordinates around 20 miles away from your home. After only one or two miles the car is already driving through streets and neighbourhoods you’ve never seen in your life. You try to marvel at this, but have to confess that these streets and neighbourhoods bear more than a passing resemblance to your own. You keep waiting for some flash of difference, but it doesn’t come. You wonder if you should boil the kettle again, just to listen to it.

4/ You have missed the start of the work day and half-consciously compose an excuse centred on a malfunction of your driverless car. You will say that it took you several miles before you realised it wasn’t simply taking you on an alternate route to work based on the prevailing traffic patterns of the morning. A part of you wants to read one of the documents associated with the meeting you should be at right now, just to emphasise that you’re not there, but you don’t bring it up on the driverless car’s head’s-up display. Your coffee has gone cold.

5/ When you arrive at your destination, a suburban sprawl entirely empty of people, you stay inside your driverless car and it is as if you are not there at all. You feel as though you have been browsing the internet, perhaps scrolling through one clever website or another that creates the feeling of driving through familiar streets and neighbourhoods. You don’t enter in the GPS co-ordinates for your workplace or for you home, you just stay nowhere, for several minutes, and then for several hours, waiting for a feeling.

3 April 2014
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