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The Real Problem with Self-driving Cars
August 21, 2018
by William P. Meyers

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What if I don't want to brake?

Call me conservative, but the only thing I can think of that is more dangerous than cars driven by humans is cars driven by software written by humans.

Perhaps, given that software usually does not have alcohol or drug problems, the average autonomous car will have a better safety record than the average human has today.

I find driving stressful. I am not an eager driver. I can see wanting to let Google or Apple or Lyft take the wheel and settling back to watch p . . . I mean play video games or read The Economist while going wherever. But I will worry just about as much about the car's driving as I would about my own. Slow Down! Didn't you see that pothole?

Sure, in theory if a pedestrian or bicyclist wanders into the car's path the self-driving software might hit the brakes and ensure there safety better than I could. Despite the fact that in over 40 years of driving I have never hit a pedestrian, bicycle, or dog. Okay, I hit a dear once. Bloody terrible. But so far the self-driving cars have managaged to hit a few people, so clearly, at best, they need further debugging.

And what about the Zombie Apocalypse? I'm not saying their will be one, but there certainly could be one. You know the car will stop for zombies. I can sit in the car and scream for it to just run the f'ers over, but no, the car will just sit there, they will break the windows in eat my brains.

Likely the army, police, and VIPs will have exempt vehicles. Otherwise all a kidnapper or terrorist would have to do is step out in the road. The car will come to a stop, and soon the helpless person in the car will be kidnapped or riddled with bullets.

Nightmare scenarios abound. As usual, the lazy will make their decisions. At some tipping point, car manufacturers will charge extra for letting a real driver really drive. Kids will grow up ordering cars around, and never learn to drive. It sounds like a horror movie to me, but then I am a grouchy old man who still writes computer programs in Microsoft Visual BASIC.

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