The wonders of our modern age have left many of us immune to the kinds of feelings of astonishment that once were triggered by spectacular events.

So, if only for a moment, let’s recognize just how flipping amazing it is that, as of today, residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, can order an Uber on their phone and be picked up by a CAR THAT *mostly* DRIVES ITSELF.

The comedian Louis CK perfected this lament with his bit on how we’ve come to take the borderline miracle of in-flight Wi-Fi for granted, but the man’s on to something:

In a matter of a couple of hundred years, wheels have gone from being dragged behind horses to being propelled by the slightest motion of a right foot. Meanwhile, computers, which are newer still, are now both portable enough and sophisticated enough to read the world in real time. Through tremendous ingenuity, and literally generations of effort, those two fields have finally come together to redefine the future of transportation.

This is hardly a Wright Brothers moment (1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to jog everyone’s memory), since autonomous vehicles have been in testing for years. In fact, it’s not even like the first commercial flight  (from St. Petersburg, Florida, across the bay to Tampa, Florida, in 1914), since nuTonomy launched the first commercial AV service last month.

Instead, this as an “Explorer 1” moment. It’s the moment at which we, as a nation, though not first in the field, commit ourselves to being the leaders in the time to come.

Making the case for commercial self-driving technology might prove as challenging as the technological barriers that continue to confront it. But by not losing track of the outright wonder its development represents, and by celebrating the milestones in the technology’s progress, those man-made obstacles surely will fall.

Photo by ESB Professional /

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