Monday, May 11, 2015

Driverless cars: why would I be suspicious?

Big Brother says "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

Four of the nearly 50 self-driving cars now rolling around California have gotten into accidents since September, when the state began issuing permits for companies to test them on public roads.

In and of itself, four fender benders on 50 cars in six months is no big deal. Its probably pretty good for a fleet of 50 taxis, would be my unsupported guess. Here's what's interesting though:

The fact that neither the companies nor the state have revealed the accidents troubles some who say the public should have information to monitor the rollout of technology that its own developers acknowledge is imperfect.

The state and the companies seem extremely interested in the Great Unwashed not finding out any information about these robots having accidents. Because if you're turning a two ton car with 300 hp loose on the road, you don't want people thinking a Terminator is driving it.

John Simpson, a longtime critic of Google as privacy project director of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, pointed out that the company's ultimate goal is a car without a steering wheel or pedals. That would mean a person has no power to intervene if a car lost control, making it "even more important that the details of any accidents be made public — so people know what the heck's going on."

Uhm, yeah.

So when we all get treated to exactly the opposite of being told what's going on, such as why I would even -want- a car with no steering wheel or even a brake pedal in it, my suspicions are aroused.

The government interest here is also very suspicious. Why is the State of California actively protecting Google from inquiries about accidents that happened on public roads? That information is supposed to be a matter of public record.

One might almost suspect money might be involved.

Here's the thing. While a robot car would be fabulously useful for a taxi company or a bus company or a trucking company, to the private individual it isn't that attractive a thing. There are individuals whose driving is so bad they would benefit from a robot car, and of course there are disabled individuals for whom the robot car would be extremely helpful to their mobility. But NOT VERY MANY, so providing robots to the disabled would not be a money maker.

The risk involved in providing them to taxi services, bus and trucking companies would be astronomical, because the manufacturer would be assuming the blame for every accident any of their cars was ever in. You can't tell me a jury isn't going to find against the giant multi-national corporation almost every time.

So why do it at all?

Because the automobile is more important to the individual freedom of people than the printing press or even the internet. Talk is cheap, getting in your car and driving away is a much more powerful statement. I think there's a lot of intellectuals, social planners and politicians who are interested in restricting the mobility of Joe Average. For Joe's own good of course.

People are stupid, y'know. They have to be controlled.

The Phantom

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