Afterlives of the Californian Ideology| Deepest Mediatization? Inventing the Autonomous Vehicle

James Miller


The fully autonomous vehicle (AV) promises to be both a prototypic example of deep mediatization in the built environment and the apotheosis of the mediatized automobile. Autonomy has been an elusive goal, however. Its achievement will depend on a persuasive sociotechnical imaginary (STI), along with breakthroughs in digital technology. The latter involve advanced artificial intelligence, of course, but also the transformation of the nature of media, a dynamic that goes well beyond the mere proliferation of in-car media. After exploring “media” and automotive deep mediatization, this article dwells on neglected examples of existing mobile autonomy. It then turns to STIs in general, which are visionary articulations of pioneering communities, and the American AV STI in particular. This is constructed through a close reading of recent semipopular publications that mostly promote the desirability of vehicular autonomy. The article concludes critically, with analysis of the unpersuasiveness of the current American AV STI, the vehicle in AV, and the transformation of media.



deep mediatization, autonomous vehicles, sociotechnical imaginaries, American automobility, digital technology

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