Skip to content

The Racism of Self Driving Cars

March 28, 2019


22 of 40

A meme on Instagram becomes a Google search becomes a dozen articles and reveals one title’s conclusion without reading the article: the subject of the meme. Self driving cars are racist.

A story that was labeled “Flaws In Self Driving Car Technology Discovered” would be more robot-generated, human free, and not hinting at car sentience. But a human wrote that our skin color has meaning to cars. A projected assumption of a human condition.

Racism is a perpetual evil. Not reading the articles of each human and jumping to the title of their race wrecks understanding and conveys the authority of a 2 ton car hitting a 200 pound human.

We live in memes. What hell IS a “meme” anyway?

NPR’s “Science Friday”’s website reveals “An evolutionary biologist blended the ancient Greek word mimeme—meaning something imitated—with the English word gene.” In 1976. Before the InterNetWebs. And some how the appeal of dumbed down singularities of meaning over substance became defined – 20 years before they exploded on a medium completely unenvisioned by the term’s creator.

We appropriate the realities that comfort us. We think less than we react. We seek safety in truisms more than finding out the truth. I do, anyway. It’s easier that way. Preprocessed bits of fully formed thought take away any responsibility for our own thinking. And feeling beyond reaction.

In mornings in Lent, in silence, besides cranking on an exercise bike, all I do is think. It is daunting. A profane monkish immersion to look beyond the memes. By confronting them, one a day, in these 40 things.

You may have heard that religion as we know it is very, very ill: it may not be dying, but the way we embody having faith is not relevant to millions of people who have left it and are leaving. I think that many are equating the depth of a meme to the words and rituals that have become thoughtless cliches to them and dismiss faith as easily as a flawed Instagram meme.

Humans made religion. Religion has all our best hopes, but also has our worst realities too. But the core of God is that each of us embody who made us. The hypocrisies of sex abuse, political convenience, pandering, and the pretense that we know God in any way other than his love is obvious human failing at its worst.

For me, God is not a meme.

Of course, millions of God Memes are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. They convey heartfelt connection to God, but they are alongside kittens, skateboarders, quilts and babies with sunglasses. Few can fully understand the King James Bible, but everyone can understand a meme.

There is a harder truth. God is pretty much impossible to understand, because we know so little, because God is not a meme. We recently discovered that there is overwhelming complexity to every living thing, including us. We somehow assumed that we were, each is us, as fully formed as the elements on the Periodic Table.

We thought we were memes: Life. Done. That’s it, let’s have ice cream!

But like picking at the scab of assumption over the last couple of generations has revealed that there were chromosomes, then that we used more than the 3% of them (that we could initially understand) then that we may use All of them. We still do not know. We now know that our bodies are trillions upon trillions of cells each made to function in a zillion distinct ways, grow first, repair next, programmed to die last.

But the molecules that made the cell, the atoms that made the molecules, the subatomic particles that made the atoms, the subatomic forces in each and every blessed thing are so overwhelmingly complex that we can only prescribe deductions but no magic insight into the “what” let alone the “why” of anything.

We now know more than ever,  enough to know there is more than we ever dreamed of that we do not know. Maybe we will know it. But until then, memes make it easier.

There complexities of car sensor reactions to all physical stimuli, including skin color, are just another problem we will solve. We will end racism in our cars. But we will not end memes. Even in Lent.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: