Many More Beside These

05 September 2010

"A World You Can't Predict"

The title is a Mercedes advertisement quote, played during the high-profile, high-dollar later rounds of the US Open tennis tournament, 2010, in the New York market.

It is referring to the automaticity of the Mercedes to correct (not just inform) driver error such as

1. falling asleep
2. drifting out of the lane
3. rear-ending a vehicle

In these three above cases, the commercial leads in with ordinary people, like you and me, looking close at the camera and admitting that they were not paying attention while driving.

I am going to let this description stand, without comment, and ask the reader their gut reaction to this commercial.


  1. My gut reaction (I did see it, by the way): ANGER.

    My eloquent riposte: If the money spent in the development of these 'Intelligent Driver Aids' were instead spent on more and better driver education, training and testing ... Germany ... Finland ... you get the idea.

    Most people don't want better driver education, training, and testing. That's why these technologies are metastasising.

    If you've ever seen [the movie] Idiocracy, you know that evolutionary forces don't always favor the fittest - especially when the lives are on the line are NOT the fittest.

    If people drove as if they didn't have these techno-saving throws watching their backs, things would be better on the roads, but too many studies consistently show that most people partially consume the safety benefits by adjusting their driving habits, placing some trust in the technology watching their behinds.

    The worldwide decline of driver education, training, and testing, coupled with the proliferation of these technologies points toward driving as a dying art.

    It's just a question of time.

  2. Right on man. I just don't get it. The paradox is: freedom in a car versus basically allowing a robot to move me from A to B. I don't think anywhere in the world will want the robot, but why are we trending that way? Because we're being sold it.

  3. By the way is the commenter Eddie Wren?

  4. Afraid not. I'm a self-professed excellent driver whose unusually varied and thorough training, experience, and ability has left me with only one fear: Amerikan Vehicle & Traffic Laws & Enforcement (I've nothing to fear in Germany of Finland). Or maybe it's due more to attitude, than ability - or due to spurious Amerikan V&T L&E; your choice.

    React to this:
    “Your car should drive itself; it’s amazing to me that we let humans drive cars,” Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, said at a technology conference last month. “It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers.” Bet he lumps his chauffeur in the same mental category as his maid and his cook ...

    We're not trending that way because we're being sold it. People are BUYING it because driving - to them - is mostly a means to an end (a way to demonstrate and enhance social status), rather than an art, or a a skill, or an attitude to be developed or nurtured.

    Though you and I and our kind will soon have no choice but to purchase cars with an alphabet soup of 'Intelligent Driver Aids', we know that good driving should never require these crutches (although I will try to have fun trying to alter their parameters so that they only intervene when and how I want them to, instead of the way Lexus cars do).

    Governments worldwide already believe that people shouldn't drive without them - that's why they're being mandated by 2012 (even Germany and their ilk).
    In two or three generations, the 'mean, median, and mode' of people will believe it impossible to drive without them, and their governments will probably go out of their way to proselytize that view.

    1) There will be fewer 'good or better' drivers (though the Lake Wobegone effect will lead MORE people to erroneously believe they are 'above average')
    2) There will be more 'average drivers' (who will also suffer from the Lake Wo- effect
    3) The 'below average' driver populace will grow faster than the 'average drivers', and more of them will think they are FROM Lake Wobegone
    4) populations 2 & 3 will trend downward in absolute quality over time, compared to the present.

  5. Mostly within a 50 mile radius of the 59th St bridge.

    To 'steer' back onto the original topic (if you don't mind) ... sometimes you can't predict things, but the fact that you can usually tell what you can't predict, should lead you to be cautious around that, or avoid that entirely.

    Drivers WHO ARE PAYING ATTENTION are constantly making predictions.
    Good drivers are also affecting those predictions - intentionally or otherwise - favorably for all involved.
    Drivers who can't predict - much less favorably affect - the driving environment need their belief structures renovated. Upon successfully accomplishing this, they will immediately turn their attention to adding missing observation/thought/driving skills.

  6. Hey, I just re-read this, and it is very good-- deserves to be read by more. Thanks for the post.
    I am still curious who you are?