The brave new world of being a packet

Posted: 09.09.15

Google understands packets better than any, any, company on the planet. If you have trouble with that statement, go back to the sports page or People, and skip this. 

Google is developing an autonomous, cute, small, bug-like four-wheel vehicle with an electric propulsion system and a zillion computers and sen¬sors. These tiny cars, if that’s even the correct name for them, are personalized, trackless, airport train–like things. THE PACKET DELIVERY SYSTEM: You are the packet. Google knows that the packet has the value, not the delivery system.

When you want to go somewhere you will push a button on your smartphone as you walk out of your office, and by the time you get to the front of your building a packet delivery system will be waiting for you. 

You get in the vehicle, it takes you where you want to go, you get out. You don’t own it, you may never see that one again, and while you are walking from the drop off to the office, restaurant, or theater, it’s off looking for a parking place with an automatic inject power socket to recharge its batteries. It is a packet delivery system, and you are the content, the data. You are far more valuable than the transport system; you are unique. The transporter is one of a million very, very smart robots with a single job: get from point A to B as quickly and safely as possible. 

While you, the packet, are being transported, you can, if you choose, do things that will enhance your value. You can study, read, or simply nap to relieve the stress of the doing the former. In any case, you will emerge from the packet transporter worth more, not less than is the case now. 

There’s got to be a better way 

Today you get into your $50,000 to $100,000 vehicle, which you only use 10 to 15 hours a week (ridiculously poor duty cycle) and you get to your destination. You have polluted the atmosphere, been under stress, and your purchased or leased vehicle has diminished in value. You have paid for in-surance, bought expensive air-polluting gasoline, worn down your tires, and possibly stained the upholstery with coffee you’ve been drinking during your 20-miles-per-hour two- to three-hour ride in stressful commuter traffic twice a day. It is nothing but a money sink, depreciating every second you have it. 

Your commute cost you precious time, unnecessary stress, potential danger because you can’t predict or control the drivers around you or those coming at you, so you lose money the entire time. You keep on losing money when you park the car, and continue to do so when you get out of it and it just sits there doing nothing but depreciating. 

As a packet you shed all that stress, expense, and depreciation. You also shed the status of the $50,000 to $100,000 seldom used or seen liability that public radio constantly asks you to donate to them so they can sell it to someone poorer than you. 

When the roads, all roads, are occupied by packet delivery modules, there will be no more highway fatalities, the cost of maintaining guard rails, abutments at toll stations, light poles will go to zero, and road cleanup crews will be a thing of the past, a job better left to robots anyway. 

CARRY ON; all is as it’s always has been— Excelsior!You won’t own the delivery system so you won’t suffer any depreciation, you won’t buy insurance, tires, gasoline, driver’s license, or plates, or have repair bills. Google, Apple, Uber, and various city municipalities will own the packet delivery vehicles. Insurance companies will get smaller, and therefore less powerful. Highway taxes will go down, and yet the highways, the packet channels, will be better, and last longer. Road construction, updating, and maintenance companies and crews will become smaller, and also less powerful, the work also being done by robots as it should be. 

Because the packet delivery systems will all be standardized; they will be mass-produced everywhere. 

However, with all this disruption to established special interest groups, with their deep pockets for their politician friends, there will be resistance to this new world. Electric car haters from component makers of air filters to spark plugs will oppose it. Just as the coal industry wants us to breathe dirty air, and the oil companies want us to contribute to global warming, and the insurance companies and lawyers want us to sue the bejesus out of each other, they will fight the changes that being packetized will create. Demonstrating a persistent lack of imagination, they will seek to keep the old ways operating for their own selfish interests. 

So it will take a crisis of extraordinary proportions and/or a lame-duck enlightened and unusually powerful leader to basically cram down the throats of the country what’s in their best interests. The likelihood of that happening is almost zero. 

So you see, there’s nothing to worry about, we’ll never be packetized. Enjoy your 20 MPH drive to work in your $75,000 polluting 15% duty cycle depreciation sink