It isn’t often when the future arrives before the present leaves. However, we are seeing the future driving on the streets of four cities today in the form of Google self-drive cars. Every major auto manufacturer is working on self-driving cars with Tesla promising delivery before 2020. Most are also working on electric cars. Put the two together with Uber or Lyft and you have a revolution in mobility.
People will not need to own a car that sits idle on average ninety-five percent of the time. Just think, no parking fees, repair bills, oil changes or dent fixes. No depreciation the minute you drive that new car off the lot. No apprehensive nights when your sixteen year old takes out the car on their own without you.
"If a viable alternative to this loss of life and injury is available, how long before Congress bans individual drivers – removing the controls from the car so you can’t override the automated systems?"
A mobility future opens up a whole range of opportunities. Cities will no longer need to reserve vast amounts of real estate for parking. Traffic flow will actually do that – flow - rather than sit in jams during rush hours or when you have an emergency. Security will be increased as no human driver will greet you when the car comes to pick you up.
That future sounds pretty convenient, but it also creates another whole set of concerns. And admittedly the major concern is the subject of The Tragic Flaw. Not everyone will be enamored with the loss of control since you will no longer drive yourself. Expect much discussion about taking you out from behind the wheel of your car. But it will happen. In the US alone, an estimated 38,300 people died on our highways in 2015. At the same time 4.4 million were injured. If a viable alternative to this loss of life and injury is available, how long before Congress bans individual drivers – removing the controls from the car so you can’t override the automated systems.
And therein lies the danger. Once we put our mobility in the hands of self-drive cars with control systems, someone will find a way to exploit those control systems at the expense of all of us. The Tragic Flaw explores this possibility with surprising results.