One of the arguments used by automated car pushers (I use the term deliberately, to convey the fact that the market isn’t asking for automated cars any more than it is electric cars; both are being forced upon the market by parties who are frustrated by the market’s reluctance to “embrace” either thing) is that they are saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafer than cars controlled by us.
In a sense, this is true.
This process has been under way for a long time but desultorily – until fairly recently. Something changed for the much worse in the early years of this new century.
It used to be both common – and legal – for 15-something-year-olds to drive. One got one’s learner’s permit that year and in many cases, had already learned how to drive years prior. Parents – fathers – usually being the instructor. Dad would take son – or daughter – out to the shopping mall parking lot, or maybe a mostly empty back road – and begin the schooling.
That was before kids were strapped into Hannibal Lector saaaaaaaaaafety seats in the back seat, of course. They rode up front, often in Dad’s lap – holding the wheel while he explained.
But back then, most American boys, at least, had some behind the wheel experience before the government-prescribed minimum age. Just as most also had some familiarity (and this they still do) with beer before the government gave its royal okay.
Regardless, by fifteen and change, American kids – boys and girls – could begin to learn to drive, legally, in most states – as recently as the late ‘80s and probably well into the ’90s.
And at sixteen – that very day – they were legally licensed to drive. Full privileges, the same as anyone else. And with it, independence. Freedom. They could come and go as they pleased, almost anywhere, almost anytime. This made the getting of the license attractive to a teenager; gave the teenager incentive to learn how to drive.
Most wanted to – badly. And so, made it happen, whatever it took.
Basic competence was expected – and achieved – at an early age, years before nominal/legal age for drinking, being drafted or being able to sign a valid legal contract; years before the boy or girl typically left their parents’ home for college or work. So that by that time, the young man or woman already had years of driving experience – which generally has the effect of making one a better driver by the time one embarks upon the adult world.
A better driver – who likes to drive.
Today, it is very depressingly different.
Most states now impose a regime that seems deliberately contrived to perpetuate childhood by delaying the age at which a kid may legally begin to even undertake driving lessons; the “learner’s” stage is also effectively extended for years – the boy or girl not being full privileged (loathsome term) until they are 18. And thus are turned loose on the adult world with fractured/limited experience and marinated in Fear Talk about the Dangers of driving. Many states don’t permit those under 18 to drive at all with other teens in the car – or at night. It defeats the point of driving.
It becomes a chore – and a bore.
And so no great surprise that something like a third of all 16-24-year-olds not only don’t drive but have no interest in driving.
Many do not drive well, either.
This cohort of marginally skilled, not-much-experienced drivers without much affection for driving is the cohort engineered for the automated car – and the one used as the reference point to make the (meretricious) case that putting cars in charge of us will be saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafer.
Well, speak for yourself – please.
Many of us can drive, quite safely. Evidence of that being crash-free driving (irrespective of the number of government extortion letters – i.e., “tickets” – we may have received over the years for various contrived “offenses” and “infractions”).
The accident-free driver of several decades presents an irrefutable counterargument to the one presented by the pushers of the automated car. The two are at least equally safe and arguably, the accident-free human more potentially so because his brain can think while a programmed car can only react.
Which fact, while we’re on the subject, accounts for the fact that automated cars are programmed for uber-cautiousness, to a degree that makes even Safety Nazis tap their feet in frustration.
Automated cars are being attacked by autonomous humans. A New York Times story details at least 20 such incidents, just in Arizona. They are being pelted with rocks, their tires slashed and their algorithms toyed with. The Times quotes one Erik O’Polka, who brakes in front of automated cars to frazzle them into pulling themselves over – and “bricking,” going inert as a result of computer catalepsy.
And there is the Replacement Angle.
Zero Hedge quotes New York City University media theorist, who characterizes automated cars as “scabs” on wheels. “Just think about the humans inside these vehicles, who are essentially training the artificial intelligence that will replace them.”
He adds: “There’s a growing sense that the giant corporations honing driverless technologies do not have our best interests at heart.”
Of course they don’t. They have their profits at heart – and those profits can be maximized when they have control over our cars. And that interest meshes with Uncle’s interests.
That’s not a rip directed at profits, per se – with which there’s nothing the matter, if it’s a matter of voluntary free exchange. But there’s nothing free about being controlled by your car.
Especially when you didn’t ask to be.
. . .
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