Not to be ungrateful about having a pocket-sized device that enables us to communicate in ways that, just a few generations ago, would have been thought of as magical, but—it’s 2017, damn it. Where are the flying cars? If midcentury depictions of the 21st century are to be believed, we should have been able to soar over traffic sometime during the first George W. Bush administration. Instead, we’re stuck in this stupid future where people respond to having the entirety of human knowledge at their fingertips by declaring anything that doesn’t reinforce their pre-existing biases as “fake.” And don’t even get us started on the gig economy.
But hey, look on the bright side: Although tech companies like Uber have stripped labor of its dignity, reframing instability as independence and working yourself to death as “hustle,” at least late capitalism is finally working on those flying cars. That’s according to a report in Forbes, which says that Uber is targeting Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth as the two U.S. pilot cities for an “air taxi” service the company hopes to launch by 2020. (The service is also being beta tested in Dubai.) The whole thing sounds pretty cool: Embarking from and landing on a series of helipads installed on top of buildings, the air taxis promise to take riders across town in a fraction of the current time—“Uber’s research predicts that an UberAir ride from Los Angeles International Airport to the Staples Center would take less than 30 minutes using UberAir. An UberX ride between the same distances generally lasts closer to an hour and a half,” Forbes writes—at a similar cost to UberX.
Just one little problem, though: The air taxis themselves will be self-driving eVTOL (electrical vertical take-off and landing) vehicles, sort of like giant drones. So, while Uber is hypothetically offering the neat experience of affordably flying to work every day, that same plan also promises to put the many thousands of people currently depending on Uber to pay the bills out of work. But hey, if you’re lucky enough to land on the “haves” side of the ever-widening income gap, you won’t even see the valleys full of starving people tearing each other to pieces over the scraps of food you toss out of the window of your air taxi.