The consequences of driverless cars

Oct 6, 2017 by

Technology has a way of revolutionizing our lives before we’re even aware of it. We all now live on our phones. When did that happen? Sometime after the iPhone first appeared and seemed like a cool gadget to have. At some point along the way, everything was available in the palm of our hands, and now it’s hard to imagine life any other way.

Can you imagine having to wait all day to check your email because you were away from your computer? Can you imagine not getting calls and texts instantaneously? What about only being able to listen to the music in the store or on the radio because you couldn’t carry it with you? And do you remember having to actually bring a camera when you wanted a photo?

Such basic questions show just how different life became very quickly with the smartphone. And not all of that is good. Remember when you used to read books when you were on the bus or train? Remember when you could hold your attention for more than five seconds? Remember when distracted driving wasn’t such a prevalent threat on the road?

Another technology is about to hit us just as hard as the smartphone, and it’s not clear how it will affect us going forward. That technology is the driverless car.

Already, driverless cars are on the road. If you live in certain locations (California or Detroit, for instance), you may have already shared the road with one and not even realized it. Several major companies (Tesla and Google to name just two) are working on cars completely able to drive themselves. Other companies are already introducing some amount of driverless technology into their vehicles. Remember the commercials for the car that stops itself if you start moving into another lane? That’s how it starts.

Exactly where this technology will take us is not clear yet. There could be many benefits. The number of car accidents would go down astronomically, and truck accidents, which are capable of real damage, would probably disappear entirely.

I say disappear entirely because it’s likely the entire career field of truck driving will dry up in the next couple decades. Yes, that quickly. And the results could be both wonderful (no more accidents) and rather tragic (thousands and thousands of more unemployed people).

Whether the driverless car will end up being a net good or a net bad, we can’t know yet. With the technology only just over the horizon, we can see it coming but not its impact. Will people rebel against it, or will it be normalized and become the standard almost overnight just like the iPhone?

One thing is for sure, once cars are driving themselves, there will be nothing to keep us off our phones while we’re on the road.

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