Before we ask the question posed by this article, let’s just take a step back and define what car culture is. Car culture, of course, can range from many guys meeting at a parking lot, parking their cars, and everybody comparing notes regarding the automotive masterpieces that they’re driving. This can also be more formal in the sense that people can and do pay for car shows, as well as car museum retroactive shows.
There’s a lot to be said with car culture because it’s driven by passion. It’s not just a commercial enterprise being milked by the commercial organizations that organize them, it goes beyond that. It really is all about a celebration of the tremendous human gift for artistic and technological expression that we can find in the form of a car.
Different cars come from different cultural contexts. Different cars are products of different historical periods, and all of this comes to a head when you throw in a little bit of car culture.
There’s a sense of belonging there. There’s almost a sense of spiritual connection between young car fans and car fans from the 1960’s, all the way to the 1920’s. It really would be sad to see this continuity broken by technology, but it appears that this is exactly what’s going to happen.
Drone technology and automated commuting is basically going to turn car culture from a personal experience with a tremendous amount of emotional ramifications into a commodified experience.
A commodified experience is like when you eat a piece of fruit. It’s not like you’re going to make a blog out of it. It’s not like you’re going to organize symposia and conventions on that experience. You’re just eating a piece of fruit. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve probably seen them all.
And drone technology makes this happen because instead of going out there, getting into your car, jumping in and driving from point A to point B to see for yourself, the drone becomes your eye in the sky and you no longer have to physically experience the road. You can see ahead so you can plan your trips to be as short and as efficient as you can.
On top of that, the actual commute doesn’t have any physical or emotional or intellectual input from you because you just get in the car, press a few buttons, and you get from point A to point B.
You can bet that these two technologies, working separately or working in conjunction with each other, can have a big impact on car culture. It’s too soon to tell whether it’s going to kill it completely, but you can bet it’s going to have quite a bit of a dent.
It’s easy to get worried about how many jobs will be lost by technological disruption. While there’s no disputing that certain jobs will disappear (remember phone operators or horse buggy whip assemblers?) there will be other jobs representing them. If the economy remains fluid, this transition, while rough and alarming to some, will be handled well enough by the rest of the economy so life goes on.