The seminal season of our PETE TALKS will dive into popular and occasionally controversial topics about the past, present and future of the automobile and automobile industry.

Upcoming PETE TALKS

THE FUTURE OF MOTORSPORTS AND COLLECTING

Recent legal and political developments in the United States and abroad will potentially have radical effects on the viability of motorsports and car collecting. The decision by the European Court of Justice to apply insurance requirements to all cars, including those only used on private roads such as race tracks, potentially threatens the sport as no insurer is interested in covering racing. Similarly, regulations and tariffs in the United States are driving up the cost of restoring vehicles or, as in the case of dune buggies in Texas, putting limits on ownership and use.

THE ETHICS OF AUTONOMY

Beyond radically changing how humans get around, a future of autonomous transportation, where humans are increasingly removed from the decision-making of driving, will create new challenges to the legal and ethical frameworks of society. How will artificial intelligence be trained to react when facing choices that impact the safety of drivers, passengers, and others? Who is liable when things go wrong? Decades of experience has led to the development of norms, customs, and rules that may or may not be relevant when the computers are in control.

INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY

The history of innovation and invention is characterized by common trends, regardless of the technology involved. Early movers are often small and nimble, providing flexibility to rapidly exploit new ideas and processes. They help prove the viability and marketability of the new technology. As a few firms get started, many others join in hoping to capture a part of the newly-created market. Over time, larger firms are often able to use their economic power to gain strategic dominance. While the past decade has seen the creation of new automotive firms, as well as entrance into the space by technology companies, the new technologies of autonomy and alternative power are increasingly becoming an arena for competition between the major automakers. What does the future hold for the upstarts as the established players rapidly join the discussion of the future of the automobile?

CONSERVING CAR CULTURE

For decades the car has been the center of life. It is how people commute between work and home, is a centerpiece of their leisure activities, and becomes a reflection of their individual interests and identity. However, many people feel that the love affair people have with their car is ending, and the newer generations are increasingly uninterested in automobiles. Car ownership is down, as is the number of youth getting their driver’s license at the earliest possible stage. Technologies such as ridesharing apps will take people where they want to be without having to deal navigate (and park in) increasingly difficult urban landscapes. In the future, autonomy threatens to hasten this trend, particularly as monolithic fleets of pods take over and replace the personal car. In such a world, does car culture even exist?

AUTONOMY AND THE FUTURE OF LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles has always been a center of the automotive world, and its layout and makeup are intimately tied to the car. The network of highways and sprawling neighborhoods that define the city are products of a twentieth century obsession with driving. However, just as the car defined the city, so too is the future of the city tied to the future of the automobile. Autonomy, with its promise of easing traffic congestion, lowering the need for parking, and changing the entire notion of car ownership, will change the infrastructural demands placed on city planners. And the new technologies driving autonomy will require their own new approaches to city planning. As the means of transportation change, so will the design of Los Angeles.

More information to come.

Events and Talks are subject to change.

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