Wednesday, May 28, 2014
No One In the Driver's Seat
This piece on the possible linguistics of "driverless cars" (a term which, if the technology catches on, would obviously be no more current than "horseless carriage" is now) got me thinking a bit: I think it's quite possible that it will one day be more safe to be driven around by a computer controlled car than to drive yourself. However, accidents will continue to happen. Which opens the question: How will people respond to the balance of risk versus control?
The latest Google-car prototype doesn't just control a car, it actually does not have control features that would allow a human to take control. Perhaps because I've grown up driving and being driven, I might go for this as a novelty, but I think it would actually bother me a lot as my primary vehicle. Even if I knew that a computer was more able to deal with emergencies than me, I would still not feel comfortable knowing that in the event of an emergency I could not seize control.
I wonder how society as a whole will deal with this. Will human-driven vehicle some day be banned from public roads as being far less safe than computer-driven ones? Will we ever feel comfortable with the idea that in the event of an accident, our last moments might be spent seeing the computer about the crash but unable to do anything about it?