The future is racing up fast. Science fiction will need to come up with some new ideas, because some of its most outlandish AI dreams have arrived.

Self-driving cars are being normalised in a hurry.

It will take some getting used to. Imagine that first journey, sitting in a vehicle travelling well over 100km/h with a computer at the wheel, surrounded by other cars, buses and trucks all being run by software.

Have you considered that kids now aged 10 might never actually learn to drive? Why would they?

If machines are proven to reduce road fatalities, perhaps by a magnitude, then what liability-minded government or society would allow people to drive? That shit will be banned in a flash.

I can remember a long series of stupid and dangerous moments in my teenage driving career. Pleased and grateful to be with you today. I might easily been seriously injured or killed. And I was average, not an overly reckless driver. Just young and dumb.

The classic teenage job of delivering pizzas will be extinct. Self-driving cars in partnerships with car share companies and Dominoes, Pizza Hut etc will deliver to homes on autopilot.

Teens will need new jobs, perhaps earning tokens from playing VR video games. On the plus side, the painful and terrifying process of teaching them to drive will be gone forever.

When all of this starts happening, what becomes of car culture? Perhaps old-timey sections of road will be created through mountains so people can still take out their “classic” 2020 human-drive Tesla for a spin. Like people ride horse and buggies for fun today.

What about self-OWNING cars

Here’s another shift for you. Just as young people today aren’t typically saving for house deposits like previous generations – let’s face it many will never own their own home – in the near future cars won’t need to be owned by individuals.

They’ll own themselves.

Combine self-driving tech with Uber and GoGet and take that to its logical conclusion.

Cars will roll off the factory line as independent entities. They’ll earn currency by giving people rides, which they’ll spend on fuel, auto repairs, registration and parking for when they feel like a rest.

Basically it’s Bender from Futurama’s tiny apartment, but for cars. Nothing weird about the near future, eh?

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine