The Path Toward a Driverless Nation
Thirty years ago, eight in 10 Americans ages 17-19 had a driver’s license. Today, it’s six in 10.
That’s the lead to a story at ScienceDaily, which goes on to give lots more stats about the decrease in licensed drivers in this country.
Many teens today don’t care whether they drive or not, and that percentage will probably just continue to drop. In today’s world, when kids can drive on Xbox and instantly connect to friends through technology, the need and desire to move about in the real world is diminishing.
While that’s great for the safety of America’s teenagers, it’s terrible for our car culture. In 20 years ask a guy about his first car, and he’s likely to respond, “A 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia, from GranTurismo on my old Xbox 360.”
Add Google’s self-driving cars to the mix, and car passion is at serious risk.
On its company blog, Google proclaimed a major milestone in its quest to put an end to driving as we know it: Its driverless cars have driven over 300,000 miles without a single accident under computer control. Sure, that’s impressive and all, but it’s also depressing, because it means there is a very real future in which driving is obsolete.
There’s no doubt that computers could create more efficient, safer and faster travel. The cost, though, is huge: the further disengagement of humans from the process of living. Driving isn’t just about getting to a destination, it’s about engaging with the world and the machinery that humans build. If we’re all just shuttled around from place to place, relying on computers for our social experiences, work, entertainment and transport, what’s to keep us from turning into the ultimately lazy version of humanity shown in movies like WALL-E?
While a culture of self-driving cars is still many decades away, what’s going to happen to driving professions? Will taxicabs and long-haul trucking get replaced by computers?
Already some Google employees are using these self-driving cars to commute to and from work, which means the technology could reach everyday commuters sooner than we think.
Come to think of it, if modern teens don’t have to do anything with their cars, maybe they’ll start to love them again.
Are you for or against the concept of self-driving cars? Will they destroy a car-loving culture?