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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Self driving cars



Are we really sure that we want self driving cars.  In fact, are we sure we want a car that is even connected to the Internet.  There are some pretty strong arguments against both self driving cars and against cars which are connected to the Internet (done so that software updates can automatically be fed into the car computer).

Just recently there have been some pretty serious hacks.  The NHS (National Heath service of the UK) was taken down and here in New Zealand we just had a program on our National Radio about the hacking of electrical power line companies.  You would have thought that if there were systems with the very best of protection, it would be these.  Perhaps they did have excellent protection but were hacked anyway.

Imagine the chaos if we had even 10% of our cars connected to the Internet when someone managed to hack the system.

Then there is the secret services of the United States and the so called 5 Eyes.  In America it is illegal for these institutions to spy on American citizens but they do it anyway.  The  hover up every phone call and e-mail from America and from the rest of the world.  Even having a car which is connected to the internet, never mind self driving, gives these institutions yet another window into the private life of all of us.  And don't give me the argument that if you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear.  That argument is so discredited that it doesn't even justify wasting a paragraph explaining the  fallacy.


Suppose, for the sake of the argument I want a new software program for the electric car I am driving and my car is not on the internet.  No problem.  I will go to my home computer, download the upgrade on to a flash drive, take it to my car and plug it in to the flash drive socket provided.  Besides, I may want to wait a year to let the early adapters test it out before installing it.  The computer world if rife with new computer programs being full of glitches.

Suppose I need navigation.  I will simply take my cell phone and put it on the Velcro patch on the dash board.
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As for self driving, let me ink out a scenario for you.
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You have a daughter - the apple of your eye.  You insisted that she learn to drive on a gear shift car since you are a little old fashion and value the old skills.  However since she got her license, she has never driven.  You gave her a self driving car for her birthday and she loves it. (no wonder) Today she is off to a show in the next town with her boyfriend.  ETA 30 minutes.  What do you think she is doing for that half hour.  

She is snogging in the back seat with her boyfriend going at highway speed  when some sort of computer glitch or hack demands that she take the wheel and manage the brakes and accelerator.  It would be chaotic enough if she was sitting in the drivers seat with her hands off the wheel.  You fill in the rest.

Add to this the ability the secret services will have to send a car into oncoming traffic, over a cliff or into a tree.  You think I am exaggerating.  Look at the drone programs exposed by Manning.  They took shots at a suspected terrorist while he was surrounded by civilians.  Secret services are amoral and we don't need to give them more tools to do what they want.  What's that you say?  They don't operate on their home soil.  Give me a break!!!

And one further point.  With self driving cars and trucks, we put yet another tranche of workers out of work.  These are folks that will never be engineers, scientists or lawyers and we need work for them as well.  Economists seem to always ignore one basic fact of the economy.  The most important factor is the rate that wealth circulates through the economy, not the amount of dollars available.  Work through the implications (already demonstrated) of putting more people out of work.

It simply leads to wealth being more and more  concentrated in the hands of the very few uber rich and less circulating in the economy.  We are rapidly getting to the point that less and less people will be able to buy the products produced in the factories.  One good effect of this is that it cuts into inflation.  That may help to explain our present situation (2017). 

I have a strong feeling that an electric car manufacturer who advertises that his cars are not self driving and have no connection to the Internet would have a strong selling point.

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