Technically, a car fails to fulfill all the characteristics of a robot as defined by Mierriam-Webster, basically because it does not look like a human or an animal. A car looks like, uh, well … a car.
But, that definition is simply faulty. I propose that a robot can take on any likeness, including something uncanny and bizarre. The robot is a robot if designed by a human to perform any conceivable function at a more efficient, safe, repeatable, and artificially intelligent (not actual human intelligence) manner than a person. Or, an army of persons. All whom would rather be doing something else.
Also, a car is not specifically designed to replicate the activity of a person, which is a rather old definition of robotics. But, the human motions of travel on a road, carriage of baggage, lighting a darkened path, wiping the rain from glasses, and shouting for other people to get out of the way are in fact anthropomorphic. Persons have been doing these activities with robotic precision and predilection for years; all the while as they are dreaming about owning a car to do them.
First came wheelbarrows, then buggies, then windshields, and then cars. The most important additions to the first cars were places to sit, beams to light night travel, windshield wipers, and horns.
Therefore, cars are robots.
While cars are appreciated, even loved, they fulfill nothing of eternal value. They only affirm our temporary existence. Cars claim the lives of more people over time than wars. And yet, we rush to get in our cars every day, drive like we will live forever, and raise our fists at folks who do not follow the rules of the road.
And now, with functionality presciently prophesied by the wizards at Disney sixty years ago, cars can drive by themselves. Cars now fit the added robot definition of being computationally driven, and automated by remote control.
Cars are, ironically, built by their neanderthal cousins, the manufacturing robotic arms and carriers fashioned originally by Ford and elevated to elegance by Tesla. They do so with the dexterity of surgeons and the heft of a dozen cavemen.
All attempts to eliminate cars from the access of humans comes from arrogant, nazi-like curmudgeons who hate children and wish people would spend more time attending to home-grown gardens, weaving shirts from lawn clippings, and reading self-help books, so they don’t bother each other. If we must travel, these curmudgeons insist that we suffer, crammed together, just like in the tupperware stacked buildings that collect our exhausted bodies, weary from living without being able to go where we want to go.
Mass transit is simply an oversized, mentally challenged car which goes where someone other than all the inhabitants has concluded that passengers should get on and get off. Customers of mass transit simply acquiesce to get in a mass transit robot because that’s the best place a bureaucrat could negotiate for arrivals and departures while sitting in his tupperware office. The mass transit routes are confirmed only when enough people bought mass travel passes because they couldn’t afford to buy, use and keep their cars in the city.
Mass transit stops too often, or not enough. It has no seat belts, and no manners. It’s comforts trace back to the 19th Century in both doorways and cushion-less seats. The robotics used in mass transit are more similar to elevators than sedans, and more likely to evoke depression than glee.
In fact, cars on a highway are rogues. They have defied all versions of the curmudgeon’s desired mass transit, except in the arenas of air and water travel. And that may soon change. Cars have finally become automobiles.
Consequently, automobiles are perhaps the most advanced robotic devices never imagined by city designers, never expected by farmers (who ironically use tractors), and seldom repaired by intellectuals.
Vegetarians surely prefer bicycles and mass transit over automobiles. The motor vehicle is disparaged by professors because it requires tender loving care if is to last more than a decade.
When you control your robot from the comfort of your captain’s chair, the pilot’s purview, the inimitable driver’s seat, you travel through time, you wander among both beauty and trash, and you go where you want.
No. I don’t believe there are automobiles in heaven. Robotics will not be necessary. Lawns will not be cut. Paths will not need to be lit. No one will wipe their glasses. And horns will announce gatherings, rather than scatter the folks.
Enjoy your robot while you can. Later, in the eternal place, you will not laugh at your earthly obsessions, or your constant desire to have a robot do the dirty work. You will better realize the wonder of living fully, and more clearly grasp what you were seeking all along in that comfortable automobile that went where you wanted it to go.
You will finally be where you wanted to go.