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The future of everything


Bhigdog
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Todays WSJ included a supplement with the above title. One of the "everythings" was the automobile. They say the not too distant future includes the self driving car that you order up, as needed, by smart phone app and pay for by the mile of use. Pretty interesting and logic driven article given that the average car sits unused 95% of it's life. Below is the closing excerpted paragraph.

Some people will still own and cherish cars. But those people and their cars will be considered classics. 25 years from now, the only people still owning cars will be hobbyists, hot-rodders and flat Earth dissenters.

Pretty interesting article and actually makes sense given a certain population density of any given area.

Wonder how all that augers for the old car hobby?............Bob

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I use my excavator probably less than 2 percent of the time but I don't see getting rid of it so I can rent one.  You can't beat deciding to do spur of the moment work and just going and turning the key to get the job done,  instead of spending most of a day going some place to rent it then feeling pressed to try to do as much as possible. I'm beginning to think I probably won't even sell it when I no longer have a real need for it as there are always new projects to tackle.

My commercial chipper is about the same.  Probably more like .5 % of the time it gets used but you can't beat cranking it up and reducing a huge pile of brush or a few trees you just took down in a few minutes.   

I think I have a shop full of wood and mechanics tools that all sit idle until you need them.  But when you need them,  wow what a difference it makes.  

Same with my truck.  I use it every day. On almost every day I use it, I could probably haul what I need in a prius, but the small percent of the time I need a truck makes it worth having the rest of the year.  Renting is great if you only need to use it once. If you have to start renting stuff on any regular basis you might as well buy it.  Time is valuable and renting wastes alot of time not to mention,  finding what you actually need to rent.  Most of the time I need commercial size equipment,  not home owner type stuff.

I'll keep all my junk as well for now.  Nothing else my family can sell it off when I kick the bucket. 

Edited by auburnseeker (see edit history)
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I feel the same way but the thrust of the article is that it may not be the case for most. The larger question is not how we hobbyists feel but what the concept will mean for the hobby going forward if it pans out to be true. Will it help or hurt our hobby, and for some their business.......Bob

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Here in Canada the price of housing in the major cities has risen to the point that anyone who didn't buy 25 years ago or inherit is effectively left with distant suburbs as the only choice. Think of prices very close to S.F. California, that is what many many younger Canadian families are  facing today. The city's still need tens of thousand of workers who generally have a long commute in to town, well past the range of any of the electric's . As well Canada in general is a BIG place, with lots of distance between many destinations that makes ride share schemes , E.V's, public transit etc. look like a pipe dream. And they don't call it the frozen north for nothing. Ever look at what happens to a E.V.'s range in winter?

  A minivan or SUV is standard equiptment for the majority of us over the age of 25. Along with a 45 min.-1.5 hour each way commute. With city single family housing well past the million dollar mark for many of Canada's city dwellers I don't see the private car in any danger for a long time. Hobby cars will remain to be seen.

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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OTOH for the last decade before I retired I was a telecommuter. Of course I had practised distance working since 1985 and for most of that time it really did not matter where I was, could reach anywhere in the world from anywhere. Many jobs today do not require more than a reliable electronic presence and not driving to the office meant a savings of an hour and a half of prime time a day and about $250/month. Besides I have always had better equipment at home.

 

Ultimately what will make the difference is the continued availablity of cheap (yes it is) gasoline and almost any gas buggy made in the last century can run on 87 PON (some need 93).

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Guest AlCapone

But we must remember that the world has changed very dramatically in the last two or three not only the last 50 years! I have a 19 year old business where I have never met one of my cients. My multi national clients are in over 20 countries. Face to face contact is quite often not a necessity in this business era! You get modern and sophisticated or you get run over by the new kid on the street! Maybe not what we like but it is reality! Wayne

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Telecomuting sounds wonderful, but for many/most it is not going to happen. Someone still has to actually  do things with things, not everything in the world is information based.  Infact the world is largely objects that are built , moved , maintained and repaired by people. People who have to actually be on site to do whatever needs to be done. I haven't seen a computer or automated system yet that can repair itself. I repair, operate and maintain a heavily automated ship everyday. All that electronics plus the actual machinery that all ships always had makes for lots of work. Easier to operate , but so much more to maintain and repair. All automated systems ; land sea or air still need repair and maintenance. Someone must actually be there to do it.  It all means lots of travel, at odd times and sometimes over longish distances. And lots of real time commuting.

 

Greg in Canada

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............. The larger question is not how we hobbyists feel but what the concept will mean for the hobby going forward if it pans out to be true.........

 

The future does not look rosy for the hobby. With both parents now working to keep food on the table, the kids seldom even get to experience our hobby. Ask any 5-6 year old what old cars they like, that is if you can get them off their "devices"! We need to do more to share our hobby with young people. Off to let them sit in your cars, give them rides if there is time.

 

Wayne

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I'm not sure. I was not a "car person" as a kid in the '50s and '60s. I had no interest in performance or really even in owning a car other than for the freedom it allowed. I only became really interested in antique cars while in college when I discovered a copy of Bob Turnquist's Packard book in the library. I became fascinated with the history and styling of old cars and my interest expanded from there. Now after restoring professionally for 37 years I can't imagine myself doing anything else and I have even deluded myself into thinking my degree in Archaeology has not gone unused. I also question such statements as "people want to buy and restore the first car they owned" or "people will not be interested in old cars they don't remember". The ways into the old car hobby are many and varied and all we can do it keep putting our club out there in the eyes of young people and hope something they see sparks their interest. Old cars is not a hobby for the very young nor for those without a bit of disposable income. Never was, never will be.

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Guest AlCapone

People forget the people that protect them . Fire , Police, EMTs . Can this be done over the NET  , NO  Who fix's your computer , plumbing  and it goes on.  Kings32

With all the drastic changes coming upon us lately, I'm glad that I'm 69 and not 19.

I hear you! My father could never have comprehended the wAy we do business today. When people could not afford repairs he did not even question their ability to pay. He wrote their name in his little hip book and they dropped in a few dollars each week. No interest, no application for credit, just one man doing another a favor. When he passed there were not many names in the book and most of those that were came forward to pay Wayne

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In Vermont every once in awhile they would have an unofficial "even up" day. Everyone got out their little books to see who owed what to who and they would cross off items of similar "worth". Came in handy during the depression when my grandfather kept the mill going to keep the men going but couldn't pay them in cash because no one could pay cash for the lumber.

 

There is a rather long old tale that explains local economics better than I can:

 

It starts with a fellow arriving in a small resort town and parking his car at the main hotel lot. He goes to the desk and registers for a suite of rooms saying that his wife and children will be arriving later that afternoon on the train. He puts a $100 deposit down, gets the key and uses the elevator to take a look at the rooms.
The hotel owner breathes a sigh of relief and as soon as he can leave an assistant at the reception desk scurries out crossing the street to the butcher shop. He hands the butcher the $100 that he owed him for the meat he was serving at the hotel restaurant and quickly leaves.

The butcher quickly removes his blood stained apron and slips out the back door. He drives his station wagon to a farm just outside town where he is greeted by a local farmer/rancher. The butcher gives the farmer the $100 to pay for the chickens, the pig and the side of beef that he had bought on credit a week or so ago, thanking him profusely.

The farmer quickly slips the money into the pocket of his overalls before his wife sees it and as soon as the butcher is out of sight, fires up his old Ford pick-up and drives into the town, parking at the back of an otherwise non-nondescript building. Using a back door he enters, smiles, hands the $100 to a painted lady, thanking her for trusting him. She smiles back and as sooner as the farmer leaves, she rises from the comfortable divan she had been sitting on and walks over to the hotel to hand the owner the same crumpled $100 as payment for the short time use of some rooms by her young associates the previous weekend.
About that time the businessman returns to the front desk and says that he had a phone conversation with his wife. Due to a late start from home, the family missed the early train and will not get to this town today so he will not be able to use the room.

" ..Can I have the deposit back ?.."

The hotel owner shrugs and hands the five $20s over. Easy come easy go, right ?
And yet, everyone in town is happy.

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The future is as cyclical as the past. The concepts remain and the details change. I am planning on another 40 years (I don't have to expect it, but I can plan). Around 15 years from now we will have a renewed sense of community that will bring about some prosperous times. The focus on "I" has been escalating since the 1960's and is just about to pop.

 

I did get a smile about the credit comment above. I have a small business that works one on one in a very granular level. Most of our work is subcontracted through large companies. We pay every bill within a couple days of receipt. At the start we were told "You are a little company. We are a big company and you will have to be able to work within our "net 30" purchasing policy."  What a joke! They should have said "You are going to be our bank." Their net 30 has averaged about 70 days and extended to 145 at times. I'd giggle and wet my pants if I got payment in 30 days from one of those companies. The point is, the guy who made those conscientious payments got usurped by a mindless corporate entity.

 

I will have my cars and my toilet in some manner to the end. I hope I will be able to make it to both when I really want to.

 

As for the WSJ, I have a daughter, 32 and a son, 34. Since they began reading I have told them to always remember, the professional author of magazine and news articles has one primary goal; get a bag of groceries on the table. Their table. Keep that thought in mind before you completely digest their writing.

Bernie

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Police/fire/EMT is a very good example of  "when in the office, little is happening". Even the shipboard example is "what once took 100 people now takes 10".

 

This is a bit of what I meant by "anytime/anywhere" - for many (not all but many) things it is as easy to base personnel at home or a suburban location rather than.

 

Police work is a great example: for many their office is their car and local office (police stations) have always been distributed.

 

Really the only thing holding back much more is a management that does not trust anyone they cannot see.

 

My point is that not all telecommuting is working from home. To a large extent this is already happening: travelling salesmen (drummers) are being replaced by web sites and online commerce.

 

For years most of my work was via computer and telephone. In the beginning I was tied to land lines (and carried a kit to allow connection to any phone). In 1985 I had a dial up and 1200 baud. Now I have MBPS anytime I'm in range of a cell tower.

 

Admit to being an aberration: played computer games in 1957 and by 1966 was setting up world wide digital communications (and know why the dents are on the card cases). Just was blessed with almost 60 years on the bleeding edge. (May write an autobiography some day but sure it would be treated as fiction).

 

History with cars is similar, just was not until the '80s that hobbies could be combined. (At GMI I used to trade others computer work for their time allowences - back then using a computer was over $100/connect hour, bought my first PC to do more work offline, selected a Columbia for the 80x24 amber display - was soooo sick of green phosphor, had a built-in BIOS debugger that later was a critical element in AV work - my life is so full of accidental happenings...)

 

Yes am rambling a bit again but given the subject seems like there is free reign.

 

One point is that change is happening very quickly. My view of the future from even 2012 has changed dramatically. Have been saying for years that the only thing we can be sure about the future is that it will be different from anything we can imagine but so far the ride has been wonderful. Just trying to figure out what is going to happen next. Funny thing is that when I go to lunch with a group now, am often the only one who doesn't have a cell phone out.

 

ps didn't say the stuff you see happening on TV is all made up, reality just doesn't have the fancy graphics.

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My philosophy has always been" If I use it every day, I buy it. If I use if once in a while I rent".. Has worked for me a long time. Still I can foresee a future where, at least in congested areas, Self driving cars will be "required" for safety. Since as we all know, people are Unreliable.  Most likely though for me, I probably will be either dead, or not really caring how I get around by then.

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Mine has been "if I throw it away, six months later I will need one"

 

That relates to the Murphy Racer's correlary: "Anything I have a spare for won't break."

 

ps I was Air Force but had a lot of friends in low places at FANX.

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Guest AlCapone

My philosophy has always been" If I use it every day, I buy it. If I use if once in a while I rent".. Has worked for me a long time. Still I can foresee a future where, at least in congested areas, Self driving cars will be "required" for safety. Since as we all know, people are Unreliable.  Most likely though for me, I probably will be either dead, or not really caring how I get around by then

.

Then I guess you don't have an antique or classic car, correct? Wayne
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That relates to the Murphy Racer's correlary: "Anything I have a spare for won't break."

 

 

That's my cure for lost keys.

If I have spares for all of them I won't lose any.......  :D  .......really cheap insurance.

 

About ownership: Since housing options for many people boil down to inheriting or renting I think there's still a strong will to own things although if I lived in a place like New York City where parking spots sell for as much as housing I'd undoubtedly change my mind.

It might pay for some car "owners" to lease if they can afford it and feel a need to stay ahead of the Jones's.......  <_<

For most people the second most expensive thing they can own is a vehicle.

Living where I live, however, I cannot imagine not owning my own vehicle.......  :wacko:

Edited by cahartley (see edit history)
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The fact that this was in the Wall Street Journal makes sense. If you live in a major metropolitan area like New York City with subways, trains, and huge numbers of taxis, the article makes sense. If you live in most of the US, you will recognize that the article does not make a lot of sense in the context of your own area. 

 

I still say that the hobby could use the MarkTwain quote... "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated"

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"The City" is a special case. It takes a certain linear population density ("thickly settled") for mass transit to work. The Bos-Wash corredor is one of the few in this country.

 

Florida except for the Palm Beach-Miami area is not and that only works because the bulk of the population is within 10 miles of the coast. When I go to Boynton, there is a 100 mile stretch of the Turnpike with two rest areas and one exit: YeeHaw Junction (pop 240).

 

So we are solidly based on individual transportation at least for now and with that (personally think the electric fad will only work in small quantities, the infrastructure cannot support great numbers) the hobby can flourish. Just don't collect diesels.

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The future does not look rosy for the hobby. With both parents now working to keep food on the table, the kids seldom even get to experience our hobby. Ask any 5-6 year old what old cars they like, that is if you can get them off their "devices"! We need to do more to share our hobby with young people. Off to let them sit in your cars, give them rides if there is time.

 

Wayne

 

The last car show I went to -- I asked  them if they want a picture with the car...

 

The bad thing they did not know what it was... 2,000 car or a 10,000 car... or brand ..  It was still fun to do....

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Edited by nick8086 (see edit history)
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I got a smile from the FANX. Reminds me of a proposal I made to build a semi-hermetic biodigester  to power a large three letter building that has recently surfaced in public conversation; an ironic use of cow manure in a practical  application.

 

Things linger and many systems or cultures never die. I have a friend who entered business representing a leading edge technology in 1961. One of his first calls was on a crusty old engineer who stuck his finger into my friend's necktie and said "Sonny, you think you have something new and great. Well, the only thing that changes is the date." I like that story. I am reminded of it often.

 

Bernie

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  • 2 months later...

I remember doing a report in high school on hybrid cars being the new thing that was just around the corner.

One artical I used for reference was a magazine feature about a guy who put a Kholer twin cyl in the back of a small station wagon and also powered the car with an electric motor and car batteries.

This was in 1983

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Except for the driverless part, this is already here. This summer on a trip to San Francisco, our daughter who lives there and owns no car, amazed us by reserving a car for the afternoon. We walked 2 blocks from her apt to a Fiat parked on the street, she used her smartphone to unlock the car then pulled out the key tucked in the visor to drive us away. In NYC and SF( the NYC of the west) this is a great service. But for the rest of us who live in endless suburbia, I'm not sure. Bus service was even discontinued in our neighborhood because everyone drives their own car!

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The people that don't own cars in 25 years will be the same people that are asking for a ride to go somewhere in your car.

Apparently you haven't heard all these kids on college campuses lately as it will be not asking, but telling you to give up your ride for the good of the planet. What makes everyone think fuel, or the correct fuel we need will be available?

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I hear you! My father could never have comprehended the wAy we do business today. When people could not afford repairs he did not even question their ability to pay. He wrote their name in his little hip book and they dropped in a few dollars each week. No interest, no application for credit, just one man doing another a favor. When he passed there were not many names in the book and most of those that were came forward to pay Wayne

 

Your father's experience and deeds brought to mind James Harriott's  " All Creatures Great and Small " and his outlook on life. Thanks for that memory. BTW he needed a car too!

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It will be interesting how the insurance industry will fit into the autonomous driving plan. Also not sure the OEMs are ready to take on all the risk as no matter what happens, the manufacturer would have to be almost 100% liable for any accident.

It will be quite a while before you will have car that will decide between running over the dog or child in a split second decision not to mention trying to drive on a snow covered road during a snow storm.

There are still plenty of technical challenges that will not be solved in the next 25 years.

Not saying it will never get here but it will come in little steps and focused in certain locations.

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I remember my dad talking about buying a flying car in the fifties (may have been as late as the early sixties) but they didn't take off.

It was a little car that had a trailer that would convert the thing to fly.

He was an instructor in WWII and flew just about everything the Navy had.

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