The New Politics of Transportation and Energy
James Poulos

Interested in the thought that automated travel could enable new venues for “socializing fruitfully.” I can envision the evolution of the “party chiva”…many flavors of mobile pub, from cocktail lounge to dive bar…not to mention mobile meeting rooms, improv classes, knitting circles, and on and on.

It’s interesting that you juxtapose advancements in transportation with advancements in VR, but I think you miss the mark slightly in characterizing the latter in terms of passive entertainment consumption and “spendid isolation.” The big players are increasingly positioning the medium as an inherently social one, and betting that mass adoption will occur only after the value proposition of Social VR has been proven. Thus we’ll be able to experience mingling with others while shopping for goods without leaving our homes. Will this hasten the death of brick-and-mortar retail? High end VR-arcades may draw folks back to the mall, and provide a backdrop for in-the-flesh group socializing, so maybe it will be a wash.

All of these developments seem to strengthen the trend of transforming more and more of the functions of life into “designed experiences.” The mall must become an “experience center” to survive competition with virtual shopping. The workplace must complete its transformation into “workshop in personal fulfillment” in order to stay relevant. Soon automated vehicles must reinvent themselves as “social experiences” to win market share. Every consumer the hero of his own adventure movie.

Are there more inspiring Grand Purposes toward which we can focus all these technological advances? Maybe!