Imagine a world in the not too distant future where you can order a pizza and have it delivered without any human interaction
whatsoever. When you call to order, you will be speaking to a "virtual assistant" who can understand complete sentences, is able to decipher regional accents and
dialects, and best of all...deal with the occasional profanity. These virtual assistants can express sympathy over their inability to deliver that extra topping or that
seemingly free drink that you thought you had coming. They are special, aren't they? I'm sure most of us have already had to deal with these special
"people". Once the pleasantries are out of the way, you are ready to complete your order and offer up your credit card information. (Would you even want a
human to gather such info anymore? Virtual assistants are much safer).
Your made to order pizza will be prepared by a robot. Human hands will not touch it until your hands pick it up to consume it.
In fact, robotics as it relates to food service is already here. McDonald's has rolled kiosks in which robots dressed up like Ronald McDonald (just making that part
up) will cook your Big Mac to perfection. Who needs those pesky human employees who demand an outrageous wage, when these bots will work for free. In fact, the
technological soothsayers predict that if you are currently in a job that pays less than $20/ hr., there is an 85% chance that your position will be eliminated within the next
10 years. Companies like Tesla foresee a work environment in which humans and robots play nice with one another to get the job done. Thanks Tesla for allowing us
humans to stay around to the point of obsolescence.
In any event, your pizza is now on its way and will be delivered by a driverless...self driving...autonomous (eventually we'll all agree
on the nomenclature) vehicle. We could consider drone delivery but the FAA frowns on flying pizzas. Of course these vehicles led by Google have been out for a while
seemingly without incident or accident. Once software is developed for those freaky, unpredictable, in town driving situations that we "humans" encounter, we
will no longer be behind the wheel. Human drivers will be deemed too risky by insurance companies. Junior won't be getting the keys to the car as a rite of
passage and you won't either. I'll miss the good old days of fender benders like the time this guy ran into my passenger door. He offered me $100 dollars to
entice me to disappear, not realizing that we both lived in the same neighborhood.
All this talk of an increasingly inhumane world, reminds me of a book title by one of my favorite writers- What Are People For by
Wendell Berry. We are to be consumers of pizza Mr. Berry. So to prepare myself for this brave new world, I'm contemplating taking a road trip in a Google
driverless electric pod car. BMW is producing one that is much sportier that I'd prefer, especially since I would pretty much be relegated to being an extra in my own
movie. Perhaps I would be inspired to write my own Great American Road Novel taking my cue from who else but Jack Kerouac. After all, Kerouac let the coyote
trickster, con artist Neal Cassady do the driving for him as he observed things that formed the basis for On The Road. But for my road trip, I'll be bringing
along some artificial intelligence - IBM' s Watson, Amazon's Alexa, and Apple's Siri. But with this brain power, I could merely make suggestions and this trio
could write the novel for me. Or perhaps Watson who can beat any human at chess and Jeopardy might not take too kindly to my advice. Shaddup and eat your
pizza. Leave the driving and the novel writing to us.