Driverless Cars

So the story goes….

In 1895, or so, there were only two cars in Ohio and they managed to hit head on….

Maybe it was Illinois….

Truth is I heard this story when I was younger – could never find its source – assume it’s apocryphal – but maybe it has a point….

Looks like Google’s driverless cars had their first accident – now – is the story apocryphal? Judge for yourself – but I figure that it’s only a matter of time anyway.

Cars are the new iPads. Ford uses the Consumer Electronic Show, in Las Vegas, to showcase and introduce its latest and greatest, and let me tell you their technology is amazing.

Some Fords can park themselves; have radar for your blind spots; use voice control and on and on. Critical to them, by the way, is that everything they do allows you to have 2 hands on the wheel – always.

But that is for now. The ultimate driving experience will be when we sit back – enjoy the technology – probably mostly speaking and texting – in one form or another while the car drives itself. And, when you look at Ford and BMW and others, there is no doubt we are on the way – despite the 2-hand limitation of today.

Legislation in the US already allows driverless cars on the roads – in some states – and more will follow.

There is also a new legal expertise being developedwho do you sue in case of an accident? How do you insure? Can a cop pull you over? Sounds trivial but think about it…

Seems to me the real question though is the loss of human skill and intervention. Look – clearly – we haven’t done that great a job – too many people still die in needless car accidents – usually because of human fault – drunkenness, negligence, tiredness, whatever…

But here is a scenario – the GPS satellites that “drive” the cars get hacked – what happens? Frankly the possible outcomes are too scary to think about.

Bottom line – it will come when it does – and no doubt there will be glitches and accidents and sadly deaths – make no mistake…

But my issue isn’t with fear of the technology – it’s the fear of losing touch – the human element that while not perfect…is exactly why it’s so perfect and in my opinion never actually duplicable.

It’s my total worship of Sully and Flight 1549 – no computer could have saved those people – and it’s my admiration for the Waldorf Schools and the insight that the Tech Elite have in sending their kids there.

And I love what one of the kids had to say:

“Besides, if you learn to write on paper, you can still write if water spills on the computer or the power goes out.”
Finn Heilig, 10, whose father works at Google

One day we will be passengers in a High Tech cocoon interacting not with the road but with the environment – at least until we have teleports…


“Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding.”
Louis Gerstner

Now I’m pushing it – I know – but maybe not – many people are emotionally attached to their cars…LOL…but that wasn’t my point.

As we get more and more dependent on computers doing our work – let’s never lose sight of the humanity in anything…

I write this from Berlin – where today I toured the Holocaust Museum and kept wondering how much greater the horror would have been had they had computers…..

Never lose sight…..

What do you think?



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