You see, for example, Volvo just perfected their “road train” technology, where your car simply follows the car in front of you, meaning only one driver in five or more cars is actually doing the driving. They claim it is “to take the strain out of the daily commute”; I say it is a step towards a world with no freedom.
The Volvo system itself would be ready for production by 2014. However, the technology for self-driving cars is actually here. In California, it is now even legal on the road, so Google have been trying out their fleet of autonomous Priuses (or Prii??). That is right, the Prius is so smart, it does not even need a driver. And they claim the technology could be rolled out in the next 5-10 years. Very scary indeed.
Thinking about it, most of the technology is actually here and used a lot today. Look at the Ford Focus and its Park-Assist function. The car can actually park itself for you. The new Honda Accord will brake for you. Officially, this makes the cars safer, because computers are more efficient than humans.
But that is completely missing the point! Computers do more and more of the driving, so humans are less and less concentrated on the task of driving. The result? They crash more. Just look at the whole Toyota pedal problem back in 2010. The cars supposedly accelerated on their own and crashed a lot. The problem was not really a fault with the car, but the drivers in most cases simply had no clue what they were doing. We are getting used to the car doing everything for us, so we are becoming worse drivers.
And this is where the government steps in. In the USA, the National Transportation Safety Board just announced their wish to have more and more technology in cars, in order for them to become more autonomous. They argue this would reduce driver error, and result in fewer deaths. As with all government advice, it is just plain-sighted and quite wrong. Why can they not see the whole picture????
Just take a step back and look at it:
-More technology means drivers have less to do in cars
-If they have less to do, they pay less attention, and become worse drivers
-They then become used to this, because more and more cars have the technology
-So if there is the slightest change, or program malfunction, they crash.
What government boards propose is simply to add more technology, so the driver is no longer needed.
The result would be like I, Robot or Minority Report, people just get in the cars and trust them to take them to their destination. What ever happened to freedom?
When I take my car, if I want to go the long way to a place, I just take it. If I want to discover a new place, I can just do it. I want to go left here, nothing can stop me. This is how you meet new people and discover new places, by making impromptu decisions. If your route is predetermined and you have nothing to do, what happens? You just check your Facebook status online. That is how we get to that dystopia pictured in Wall-E.
This advert by Toyota UK pictures it perfectly.
We can no longer do what we want, we are becoming part of a pre-programmed system. There is no joy, no freedom, all is black and white. We all think 1984 and Metropolis are scary, yet we are heading straight for it and are simply accepting it!
Why is there no resistance to this?
I can tell you why, we are getting more and more used to convenience. If a car company says you will not need to drive in your morning traffic-jam, you will like it. These mundane tasks such as driving are being taken for granted, just like our freedom.
I am seriously considering creating a movement to counter this. We like to mock the people who say things were better in the good old days. The way we are going, they will actually be right.
Just look at the future: You wake up, get in your travel-capsule, chat with friends via Twitter and Facebook (that’s the ‘social’ side of your day), get to work, work, go home via the same travel capsule, eat, then sleep. A few years down the line, you die.
Sounds scary, but it is becoming a reality. In this world where you cannot even choose how you want to watch your favourite movie (without having legal threats and pressure groups after you), driving is one of the few liberties we still have.
And there is no way anyone can take it from me.
PS: Ironic thing in all this is that wonderful Toyota advert was taken down by the UK government, as two people out of 62 million complained it promoted reckless driving. I think they were just scared at the accurate portrayal of reality…. So if you can not see it, let me know, I’ll update the link.