Daddy Days: The cars and kids of the future – Austin American-Statesman

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It’s probably no surprise to regular readers of this column that I’m not a fan of electric cars. I see them as one step closer to self-driving cars, which is one step closer to a future of mass controlled self-driving vehicles that I’m really not a fan of.
It’s probably also not a surprise that my boys are very interested in electric cars, specifically Teslas. While they aren’t exactly the Jetsons’ hover cars, their futuristic design and uniqueness have captured the boys’ attention. 
When I was a kid we played the punch buggy game. If you spotted a Volkswagen Beetle (bug). you slugged your brother and said, “Punch buggy!” My boys started doing this for Teslas, which, about three years ago probably was the equivalent of VW bugs in the ’90s, but today turns a trip anywhere in the van into a cage match. There are a lot of Teslas on the road. 
I understand the appeal of Tesla’s for some. They’re new, different, technologically advanced and they also have a status associated with them. All in all, the same people who clamored for an iPhone in 2007 (and every year thereafter) are likely to be interested in getting a Tesla. 
What I don’t get is the willingness with which Texans are prepared to part with combustion engines. Not just because oil is a big part of the state economy but because there’s a significant amount of freedom gained in having a vehicle an individual can keep running.
Who has the tools, technology and know-how to diagnose and repair electric vehicles? Very few individuals. 
There’s an argument that fewer and fewer people know how to diagnose and repair gas engines as well, although modern day gas engines have had a lot of technology creep in under the hood, too. The scary truth is we’re always one generation away from losing knowledge. If we don’t teach the kids how to fix cars, do mathematics without a calculator or think for themselves, they won’t. 
I’m starting to think knowledge isn’t so much lost as it is surrendered though. Tesla’s Cyber Truck looks like dystopia. “Cyber” is Greek for “to govern” so if that’s not straight out of dystopian 1984 I don’t know what is. Yet, America has so far taken a more Brave New World approach to things than 1984 in that we willingly give up our freedoms for pleasure and convenience. The governments (or tech companies) don’t need to force us to get rid of our “dumb” cars, phones, thermostats, speakers, watches, etc. We will willingly discard them in exchange for newer, easier, more convenient alternatives in someone else’s control. 
I don’t see technology as a neutral proposition. I don’t see the technocrats creating and running the cyber-ment of our lives as unbiased or looking out for the best interest of the people. Much less our kids. Getting or not getting a Tesla isn’t the end of the world. But it is a good example of a process I want my kids to be more aware of as I do think we’ve been led to believe the trade off with innovation is as simple as old for new, worse for better. Simplicity is not traded however, it’s sacrificed. And while you aren’t forced to make it, it’s worth thinking about whether you really want to make that sacrifice. If not for yourself at least for your kids.
Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please email comments or suggestions for future columns to [email protected]

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It’s probably no surprise to regular readers of this column that I’m not a fan of electric cars. I see them as one step closer to self-driving cars, which is one step closer to a future of mass controlled self-driving vehicles that I’m really not a fan of.It’s probably also not a surprise that my…

It’s probably no surprise to regular readers of this column that I’m not a fan of electric cars. I see them as one step closer to self-driving cars, which is one step closer to a future of mass controlled self-driving vehicles that I’m really not a fan of.It’s probably also not a surprise that my…

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