The story of Autonomy centers around a young woman named Gabby Reyes, in the far off future of 2022 (actually just three years from now). Gabby is a computer programmer whose mission is to create software that allows cars to talk to each other, decreasing accidents, and make it available for free to everyone. She's motivated by the death of her father, an old school truck driver, who worked to the point of exhaustion and crashed his truck. Complicating the matter is a 2021 law that declares only people who are born in America can live in America, which puts Gabby, who came to the US with her parents as a child, at risk of deportation. When a big company (Amazon, et al.) hears about her software, they try to force her to take it down, because they're developing something similar for profit. A subplot involves an epidemic started by a pathogen released from melting polar ice caps, one of the dangers of climate change, that these autonomous vehicles may help to slow down.
|Isabella LaBlanc as Gabby (photo by Rich Ryan)|
|Arctic explorers James Denton and Rainbow Dickerson|
(photo by Rich Ryan)
After seeing the show, I'm not sure if autonomous vehicles are a good thing or a bad thing. I guess like any technology, it's neither good nor bad, it's how we use it, who has access to it, and who profits from it. The last scene, with the charismatic Harry Waters Jr. giving a spiel about the future and singing a rousing song, makes it look pretty great. Whether or not it's practical and will really come to pass, only the future knows.
A couple of tips if you go. When they tell you to get there 30 minutes before your start time, they aren't kidding. This is a well-oiled machine with no late starts. They start loading the golf carts 10 minutes out, and gathering groups 20 minutes out, so allow plenty of time to park and get to the RiverCentre in time. If you've ever been to the Festival of Nations, you'll be familiar with the box office/entrance at the top of the escalators. I highly recommend bringing your own earbuds or headphones, especially if they're good noise cancelling ones. I was a bit overwhelmed by the bright lights, riding in a golf cart sitting backwards, and the loud music blaring, so I plugged my ears between scenes, not realizing that there was some sound coming through the earbud, both a voiceover from Gabby and some commentary from the guide. The best experience would be to block out all external noise (including scene transition music and ambient sound from other scenes) and only hear what's coming through the radio.