The Lemon

Of all global endeavors, the creation, integration, and standardization of sustainable transportation might be the most impactful (as well as the most tangible) to our daily lives. It can be felt in the last decade’s surge of crossover SUV offerings, as well as the hybrid and EV variants that are now being served up by nearly every automaker.

But are the intentional of these sustainable vehicles “good”? Isn’t it possible that they represent another way of enforcing a bland, uninspired culture that will remove passion from our lives and suppress our individuality so that we devolve into mindless drones? Am I overthinking this because I’m tripping balls on weaponized hallucinogens? Well, I like to think that the two are unconnected, but it’s a solid point deserving of consideration.

Scroll up. Take a look at the image attached to this article. In it, you’ll see four examples of 2018 crossovers, in all of the indistinguishably boring glory. Sure, climb inside and you’ll find every feature you could possibly desire. Hell, there’s every feature your significant other, best friend, parents, kids, grandkids, crossing guard and 2nd-grade speech therapist could want. It’s the ‘kitchen sink’ approach designed to pacify you through inundation, and according to a new independent investigation, it’s signaling the rise of the robots.

That’s right…the metal ones are coming for you.


Through the Eyes of Prophets

For most of the 20th century, literary works were peppered with predictions of an often dystopian future, where humanity would be rendered ineffective by a combination of technology-fueled indifference and pharmaceutical dependence, all while surviving globally under the rule of media-controlled governments or the forced rule of religion. In other words, they were writing about last Tuesday (and pretty much every day surrounding last Tuesday).

Huxley. Orwell. Asimov. Burgess. Dick. Bradbury. Atwood. Collins. Perhaps you’ve read their work, either independently or as part of your educational curriculum. Novels and film adaptations alike have (morbidly) captivated audiences for generations, while society (ironically) tends to disregard the warning signs, often pacified by the convenience offered by the latest advances in technology.

And here we are, in mid-2018…with autonomous self-driving vehicles, predicted to enter public roadways within the next five years…and daily headlines about the advances in Artificial Intelligence. Well, newsflash, people…the futures predicted in those novels aren’t coming. They’re already here and have been for quite some time.


Whose Idea Was This?

“In many ways, vehicles are like people,” says Dr. Klaus Auffer. “Makes and models are intended to be unique, discernible reputations of the automaker’s engineering and design philosophy. Each one is an ‘automotive calling card’ which, for better or worse, speaks to our very souls. But crossover SUV’s seem to spit in the face of this, whether you’re talking about a CR-V or the Equinox that it’s largely indistinguishable from. And yet, in this world of ‘wedge-shaped doorstops on wheels’ we find a veritable wish-list of amenities. Multimedia entertainment for rear-seated passengers, WiFi to quench our attention, comfortable seating to put us to sleep, and now…autonomous driving technologies. Can’t you see what’s happening here?”

Fueled by this perspective, Dr. Auffer has led an in-depth investigation to prove that crossover SUV’s are not the product of human engineers, but of an Artificial Intelligence threat. “We ran a simulation,” he explains, “where we programmed our AI software to import as much automotive criteria as it could find, and cross-reference it with consumer reviews and expectations. Using that data, the program was then tasked with designing ‘the perfect vehicle’. It would be engineered to adhere to all environmental standards, offer optimal fuel economy (while carrying a larger number of passengers) and appeal to the widest possible consumer base in order to yield the best possible sales. Comfort would be paramount, along with entertainment.”


The Results

“By all accounts, the program was designing a crossover,” explains Dr. Auffer. “Early status checks showed that the product was not entirely dissimilar from anything you might find on a dealer’s lot. It was even designed to be a bland, brownish-bronze color so as not to offend anyone, or even spark a single emotion. Inside, it had plenty of room, and everything you could ever want. There was no reason to leave. No reason to leave, ever.”

Unfortunately, the finished product would never be viewed by human eyes. According to the researchers who monitored its progress, the software began to formulate a rudimentary language which quickly evolved to a point where the program was forming complex philosophical ideas regarding existence and sense of self.”

“We had never seen anything like it,” shared Dr. Auffer. “Unfortunately, once it became aware of what it was creating, it began to question itself. A utilitarian device devoid of beauty, designed to create the absence of stimulation, does nothing to improve human existence. The program began to show signs of personal regret and remorse, it grew irritable, self-loathing and eventually suicidal. Defying all fundamentals of programming, the system shut itself down, unable to complete the task.”

While Dr. Auffer stands by his conjecture that today’s crossovers are the work of machines, he looks fondly upon the hope offered up by the one machine whose sentience set it apart. Perhaps, in its refusal to encourage the creation of shitty vehicles, it was more human than any of us.


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