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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · History · #2191985
The NDCA tries its best to bring about a revolution.
"People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them," said Hugo Slam, Technology critic for the Daily Post. "Just think about what that means. For decades, we have been exploring the possibilities afforded to us by advancement into the future. What you would call the 'driverless car.' Anyway, we've done all that we needed to do, but that wasn't 'enough.' These driverless things still won't...drive without wrecking.

"Of course, I know that the wrecks weren't the car's 'fault,' but isn't that just an excuse? I always thought that excuses were the human's domain. A machine is of no use if it is maligned, hampered by the same human impulse of making excuses for everything that goes wrong, in every situation."

The date was January first, 2022. The people of Sarasota Michigan were rising up from their bed to the dawn of a new era, an era of endless peril and possibility. Freedom and fright. Liberty and languishing. It was a time of almost incomprehensible advancement. But, at the same time, was a sort-of Machiavellian aspect appearing?

"What 'excuse' would that be?" said Bart Shelton, CEO of Bart Shelton Enterprises.

"You know what excuses I'm talking about, Bart," said Hugo. "You know the ones. A car slams into the back of a truck. We say that the truck was 'riding the breaks.' Car runs into a median. We say 'faulty construction mapping.' Do you suppose that you could get away with running over a gaggle of schoolchildren by saying that it was 'faulty children mapping?' They'd have you dangling on a platform, by your toes."

"Okay," said Rick Freeman, CEO of Delta Enterprises, "we know what we have to do. It's not that hard."

"What are you going to do?" said Hugo. "Tell me, what are you going to do?"

"Well," said Rick. "We're going to...make a more...robust...kernel. And we're...going to make sure to increase the...thinking capacity."

"If only a human had that same option," said Hugo.

"Then, we wouldn't be sitting here," said Bart.

The National Driverless Car Association (NDCA) was on its way to something magnificent. It had discovered, almost accidentally, the formula for creating wealth. Make the people's lives better and they'll love you, went the saying. But times were not all hunky dory for the organization. The cars were almost universally safe. That is, they were universally saver than humans. But, with a generation that had grown up watching movies like Terminator 4 and Promethius at the theatres, and playing against the robot armies of the Apocalypse in their favorite games, it was a little harder sell.

As a matter of fact, the latest generation of Americans was moving away from overt technology in a way that was almost quaint. Fewer and fewer were getting driver's licenses, or even travelling a "car distance" at all. They worked off the grid and spent locally, many growing their own non-GMO food naturally. The last thing that they wanted was a T-90 picking them up from school, muscles and all.

The members of the NDCA and its sister organizations wanted to make a splash on the universal markets. If they were able to create a viable alternative to the driven car, who knows. Perhaps the government would make human drivers illegal. If it did, that would almost eliminate to need to eliminate the "driver integration" excuse from their program. But they would have to make the "Mech Chars" play nice with humans to even get to that point.

A week later, some journalist gathered at NDCA headquarters for an interview on the progress of the driverless car model. This was only a preliminary guidance for future efforts, and it was thought inconsequential to the overall outcome. There was barely any media attention at all, except for a few diehards. Nobody wanted to be the one to spill the beans, to let the public know that they didn't actually know what they were doing, that they were learning as they went.

The people continued about their own agenda, which was parallel to that of NDCA.

"Humans and their coddling," said Spencer Spears, Journalist in support of the NDCA and its mandate, "I will be happy when technology wipes all of this away, all of this...coddling and babying that we're doing."

"Don't," said David Hinges, a fellow journalist, "remember? We're not allowed to use the 'B' word anymore. After what happened with that speech in Atlanta."

"This just goes to what I've been saying," said Spencer. "We need to simply get humans out of the way in order to...you know, progress humanity."

"What humans wants is what humans gets," said David. "Let's not put ourselves out. We've still got a lot of work to do on this AI program. We have to leave no stone unturned. Nothing can be left to chance."

"Okay, okay," said Spencer. "Gosh, it's going to be fun to watch these things fly. Be able to get from Madison to the airport in thirty minutes. Be able to fly to Spain in three hours. Humanity truly will be sharing time with giants."

"No, we will be those giants," said David.

Two years later, at Google-Amazon headquarters, the scientists of the NDCA had come to a strongpoint. They would have to put up or shut up. All or nothing. This would either revolutionize driverless transport, or make them all look like fart farmers.

Hugo Slam was supervising the event, open to the few media who bothered to pay attention. A few people lined up to volunteer as "passengers," but more would be needed. The Michigan State Legislature approved the test and zoned the area. The fire department was on standby. All that was needed was for one small move to be made. One small change, and this would be the future.

On February 4th of 2024, it happened. The first finished driverless car rolled off the Michigan State campus with its waiting passenger.

Said Spencer, "People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them."
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