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Robot trucks are about to screw up the US (and nobody talks about it)

Maybe you look at this picture and see a modern American hell landscape. You might see a photo just a color grading away from a Modest Mouse album cover. You might see a city that is at the mercy of the scooter gangs. You might see what you think the whole country is between LA and New York, which is totally unfair because we also have Portillo’s, the restaurant where you can get a whole damn piece of cake in your milkshake. So we commit suicide in the heartland.

But I look at this picture and I see Lake Station, Indiana. I see one of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of cities that pretty much exist to serve long-haul trucks who need to fetch gasoline, eat something approaching food, quietly crush their Adderall, and shower to wash off the accumulated grease . Yes, truck stops have showers. (If you̵

7;ve ever seen a suspiciously wet person at Denny’s, it’s either because they showered there or because they just buried the body and had to wash off the clown makeup.)

When trucking takes the route of the Town Swimsuit Measurer and the Cradle Lead Inserter, these cities are taken with it. Because not only will actual long-haul work disappear; It is the entire ecosystem that supports them. The whole Crackpipe gas station The industry will collapse like a forgotten biscuit at the bottom of a backpack. The rust belt becomes much more rusty. I think we’re going to see a ripple effect that will make rural areas more rural as more people move to any of the five cities in the United States that actually have jobs (New York, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, and wherever they are work) bird scooter).

If you think I’m exaggerating for clicks, I’m not – if I’m wrong, it’s not because I’m scared, but because I’m stupid. But there is precedent in addition: In 1956 Eisenhower finished his breakfast with 20% a cow and a pack of vitamin-rich cigarettes, took a break from predict the futureand signed the Interstate Highway Act. This created our system of interconnected highways and shifted the leading cause of overland death from “died of dysentery when the car broke down” to “combos poisoning”. Once the highways were built, cities that were once thriving hubs “withered and died“simply because the autobahn didn’t cross them. They relied on travelers who used to get through the old roads – and when they were obsolete, the city’s only industry became a giant plaster model of an everyday object-having.”

Robot trucks are about to screw up the US (and nobody's talking about it) - the world's largest pistachio sculpture in Alamogordo, New Mexico

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When the Interstate Highway Act was passed, hundreds of cities died in the dark – but it made other cities relatively wealthy just because they were near ramps or had particularly discreet rest stops. When driverless semis becomes the norm, I don’t see any winners other than the top nine, who each year consolidate a little more of workers’ profits so they can move from infinite money to infinite money + X. Meanwhile the center of the land is hollowing and falling away – thousands of Gary, Indianas, written in miniature, all slowly choking in the same gilded noose.

But hey! Robot trucks! Still kind of cool?

William Kuechenberg is a film and television author who is looking for a substitute (TIPP TIPP). You can check out his work on Screenwriting Revolution or watch his diarrhea Twitter.

Above: Mike Mareen / Shutterstock

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