[Ads-l] WSJ article: An Identity Crisis for Self-Driving - autopilot, meatmobile

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 28 18:38:22 UTC 2016

Ben recently wrote about the controversial Tesla "autopilot" feature,
and speculated about future retronyms.

Article: An Identity Crisis for Self-Driving
Article subtitle: The self-driving car industry is going through some
terminological growing pains. A look at what Tesla and Google want.
Author: Ben Zimmer
Date: August 26, 2016
(This above link will probably be blocked. Use an alternative access strategy.)

[Begin excerpt]
What retronym will do the job? "Maybe a human-driven car will have to
be called a 'manual,'" Ms. La France writes. But I’m partial to a
suggestion from her fellow Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong:
"meatmobile," reminiscent of "meatspace," a retronym coined in the
mid-1990s to describe the physical world (contrasting with
"cyberspace"). Until self-driving technology is truly road-ready,
however, we’ll all be driving meatmobiles.
[End excerpt]

"Meatmobile" may be somewhat ambiguous in the future.

Here is an alternative interpretation. In the future a "meatmobile"
might refer to a vehicle containing and/or transferring meat, e.g.,
containing humans (or perhaps livestock/animals). Hence, automated and
non-automated vehicles containing humans/animals would be
"meatmobiles". This formulation might provide a useful distinction.
Future delivery vehicles containing only packages would not be
designated "meatmobiles". Accidents involving "meatmobiles" would be
viewed more seriously than accidents involving only "non-meatmobiles".

"Manual car" is plausible, I think, because the term "manual
transmission" has already achieved linguistic success.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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