To Be Is To Do

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is the kind of guy for whom most of us are, well, entirely mystified by.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is the kind of guy for whom most of us are, well, entirely mystified by. After all, who is going to crack into Being and Nothingness, a book that not only sounds somewhat confusing, but which is about the size of a brick? (Of course, if we are taking “Intro to Existentialism” we may not have a choice, but assuming that we’re no longer going to school, it is probably not high on our nightstand reading list (although it could be a good alternative to the multitudinous sleep drugs that are being advertised with the fervor that Viagra once had been.))

If we were to attempt to encapsulate Sartre’s teaching in a few words it would be: “Each of us is free to decide what we will do and act accordingly.”

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At this point you may be wondering what the point of this is, whether you’ve gotten to the wrong website by accident.

No.

The point is this: The European Union has initiated a new program that is going to study the ways and means to develop vehicles that are able to drive themselves in close formation on highways: imagine trains of cars driving along, six to eight vehicles in a tightly formed group. The drivers of said vehicles—with the exception of the person driving the lead vehicle—are all doing emails or drinking coffee or reading Being and Nothingness or whatever as they drive into work. The person driving the lead vehicle is actually driving (one assumes he or she has decided to self-actualize themselves by undertaking that task). The rest of the people are in vehicles that are equipped with a transmitter/receiver system that communicates with the lead vehicle.

When nearing one’s own destination, he or she simply departs the platoon.

Benefits are said to include increased safety (the vehicles are tightly controlled in line) and reduced environmental impact (because the cars are tightly aligned, there is less drag—just like in NASCAR).

The name of the program—which includes participation by SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Ricardo, The Robotiker-Tecnalia Technology Centre, Volvo Technology Corp., IDIADA, The Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge of the RWTH Aachen University, and Volvo Car Corp.—is Safe Road Trains for the Environment:

SARTRE