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Professor Peter Norton presents a discussion on the future of cars, guided by his recent book, Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving. Norton argues that driverless cars cannot be the safe, sustainable, and inclusive “mobility solutions” that tech companies and automakers are promising us. The salesmanship behind the driverless future is distracting us from investing in better ways to get around that we can implement now. Unlike autonomous vehicles, these alternatives are inexpensive, safe, sustainable, and inclusive.
Norton takes the reader on an engaging ride —from the GM Futurama exhibit to “smart” highways and vehicles—to show how we are once again being sold car dependency in the guise of mobility. He argues that we cannot see what tech companies are selling us except in the light of history.
About Peter Norton
Peter Norton is associate professor of history in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia, where he teaches history of technology, social dimensions of engineering, research, and professional ethics. He is the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (MIT Press). His article “Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street,” published in Technology and Culture, won the Abbott Payson Usher Prize of the Society for the History of Technology. He has published work in transportation history and policy, traffic safety, and autonomous vehicles. He is a member of the University of Virginia’s Center for Transportation Studies. Norton is a winner of the Hartfield-Jefferson Scholars Teaching Prize and of the Trigon Engineering Society’s Hutchinson Award “for dedication and excellence in teaching.”