Thursday, January 18, 2018
Driverless Cars, the Good and the Bad
I've been thinking about the new driverless cars that are being tested. Yes, friends, this topic is a change from my usually light subject posts but I find it fascinating since the cars will soon be here. Chandler, Arizona is allowing cars without drivers on its streets and is a hub for testing and developing these cars. Chandler has many wide and flat streets which is a plus for the driverless or autonomous vehicles. This is big news,friends.
Winners. Anyone who is not able to drive is a potential customer for these cars. Many senior citizens (that's me), handicapped people, and also people who might want to have a drink and then drive or are taking prescription drugs that say "do not drive." These people could benefit from having a car that will drive itself at their beck and call. Would people be able to put a young child in a driverless car for a visit to grandma?
Losers. People who drive for a living. Truck, taxi and Uber drivers. That includes people in my family. On the other hand Lyft spokespeople say actually more riders will mean more drivers/hosts will be used to make the experience of using Lyft more welcoming.
Losers. Everyone who values freedom from government watching them. That includes me.
It is predicted that once it is shown that cars without drivers are much safer than we human drivers, within 10 to 100 years, people "for public safety reasons" will be forbidden from driving. Except perhaps the super rich and powerful. Cars driven by "robots" will not be distracted by texting, will stop at each stop sign, will not speed, will avoid hazards, so the potential is for close to zero accidents.
The government surveillance could occur because although you know the way to the liquor store, church, synagogue, etc. the car will not. It will get the directions from a giant computer. That information of every place you go will be available to authorities. In addition, if networks are down, you will be stuck where you are.
I am imagining future scenarios, again "for your own good". The computer notes you have been to a gambling casino once a week. To an ice cream parlor once a week. Too many visits, or too few, to a place of worship or too much gambling or ice cream. Whatever the benign dictators decide.
Do you watch the TV show Humans? It depicts how people are learning to live with synths which are robots which look human. In one plot line a stern synth (human appearing robot) is assigned as his nurse to an old man against his will. The man helped design and create the synths. She/it insists he take pills and eat boring food, etc. and watches his every move in a very tyrannical manner. I recommend the show.
Oh well, this is mainly a problem for the citizens of the future. I do see driverless cars as a boon to many people but with a nasty downside.