Saturday, January 2, 2010

No Exit

The car was once a symbol of human freedom, but all that is about to change. Interstate highways will become like airports, with traffic controllers assigning times for take-off and arrival. Either that or no one is going to get anywhere. Freedom is the price to be paid to insure that travelers make it into urban hubs after they land at Heatherow, Charles de Gaulle, or Kennedy. The rush-hour traffic from airports is only the tip of the iceberg. I-95 leading in and out of Manhattan on the Bruckner Expressway is the physical approximation of the feeling created by a stalemate in chess.

Americans in particular cherish the notion of the open road. For anyone growing up in the fifties, driving was a rite of passage, not only because of the test that was required to obtain a license, but also because of drive-ins and diners of the kind immortalized in the famed Barry Levinson film. Now cars will morph into pods, which in turn will become advanced information collectors.  If the E-ZPass seems like an optional convenience, realize that in the future it will be a means of tracking and recording the comings and goings of a majority of the population.  The advent of this form of Big Brotherhood will not be ideological, but rather the result of an evolution in technology to the point that the complex thermodynamics of flow can only be addressed by lessening the effects of viscosity in the plumbing of the arteries. Put another way, society will need a blood thinner to avoid a myocardial infarction, but the result will be that the patient is no longer free to eat, or come and go, as he or she pleases.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.