Computerized cars: What could possibly go wrong? Listen, I'm no spring chicken. I've lived through "Westworld" and "Wargames." I have seen what the very efficient robots of Delos and the government's extremely capable WOPR can do when left to their own devices. I was also around when Skynet became self-aware. None of these events or experiences were particularly encouraging, at least when it comes to the notion of leaving the driving to Gort.
Then again, computers don't drink and then climb behind the wheel. They don't do drugs, get distracted, fall asleep, run red lights or tailgate. They live to serve. If they follow the laws of robotics, we should all arrive safe and sound at our predetermined coordinates, none the worse for wear. A study by the Eno
Center for Transportation, a foundation dedicated to improving
transportation, suggests that if only ten percent of cars and trucks on the road were self-driving,
they would reduce traffic deaths by one thousand per year and produce nearly thirty-eight billion dollars in economic and other savings. That feeling of freedom when you get behind the wheel, however? Gone.
That's okay. We're getting used to surrendering our freedoms for technology. I can remember a time when I was trained by my parents to answer the phone with this formal greeting: "Hello, Caven residence. May I ask who is calling?" Caller ID just wiped that whole exchange away. GPS systems have eliminated the need to pull over and ask strangers for directions. Instead, we now rely on the ability of strangers to properly program in the points on the map that is installed in that device. Put your faith in technology. What could go wrong? Eventually, highways and streets will be lined with sensors and computerized connections that will enable us all to get from place to place without having that annoying chore of checking mirrors and keeping our hands at ten and two. We'll just hand over our keys to our new designated driver. I'm certain that with the proper governmental oversight, we can enjoy a seamless transition by the end of the decade.
But don't ask the web designers for Healthcare.gov. They're a little busy right now.