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Monday, June 27, 2011

Can we be smart about this?

I know we're usually pretty stupid as a species, but I'm hoping we can make an exception for this.

You might have heard some time ago about Google and how they made a car that could drive itself.

Here's a bit of footage.

The system has, apparently, done incredibly well.

"The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light. "

A friend of mine sent me this link about how VW is putting a similar system in a commercial product. So, this tech is definitely going beyond Google's testing.

Now, here's what I want to ask everyone out there. Can we not be stupid about this? Please? I imagine a scenario where these cars have been doing well, reducing accidents and saving lives. Then one of them crashes and one or more people die. It's all over the news for a week and politicians are calling for all automated vehicles to be banned.

That, to me, would be the wrong response, but that's the one I see us having. We won't pay any attention to the improvements in traffic and saved lives that could potentially come from this, but after the first crash it will be a shit storm.

The truth is, such systems are likely to have far fewer crashes than human drivers. Human drivers will still be at the wheel and can take control at any time. And lastly, it will probably be some time before we can TOTALLY replace human drivers. They'll still be at least partially involved for the near future.

All I'm asking is for us to have a little bit of sense about this.

But I honestly doubt it.

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