Self Driving Cars: Would You Run in Front of One?

August 7, 2023

I worked in what is called by some “Plastic Fantastic.” If you have not heard the phrase, you may have missed the quips which included this phrase in several high profile, big money companies in Silicon Valley. Oh, include Cupertino and a few other outposts. Walnut Creek, I am sorry for you.

If one were to live in Berkeley and have the thrilling option of driving over the Bay Bridge or taking a change with 92 skidoo, the idea of having a car which would drive itself at three miles per hour is obvious. Also, anyone with an opportunity to use 101 or the Foothills would have a similar thought. Why drive? Why not rig a car to creep along?

8 5 traffic jam

One bright driver says, “Self driving cars will solve this problem.” His passenger says, “Isn’t this a self driving car? Aren’t we going the wrong way on a one-way street?” MidJourney understands traffic jams because its guardrails are high.

And what do you know? The self driving car idea captured attention. How is that going after much money and many years of effort? And here’s a better question: Would you run in front of one? Would you encourage your child to stand in front of one to test the auto-braking function? Go to a dealership selling smart cars and ask the sales professional (if you can find one) to let you drive a vehicle toward the sales professional. I tried this at two dealerships and what do you know? No auto sales professional accepted this idea. One dealership had an orange cone which I could use to test auto breaking.

I read “America’s Most Tech-Forward City Has Doubts about Self-Driving Cars.” I do not want to be harsh, but cities do not have doubts. People do. The Murdoch “real” journalists report that people (not cities) will embrace the idea of letting a Silicon Valley inspired vehicle ferry them around without a bit of trepidation. Okay, fear. There I said it. How about the confidence a vehicle without a steering wheel or brake inspires?

If you want to read what is painfully obvious, navigate to the original story.

Oh, the writer is unlikely to be found standing on 101 testing the efficacy of the smart cars. Mr. Murdoch? Yeah, he might give it a whirl. My suggestion is to be confident in the land of Plastic Fantastic. It thrives on illusion. Reality can kill, crash, or just stall at a key intersection. AI can hallucinate and may overlook the squashed jogger. But whiz kids sitting on 101 envision a smarter world. Doesn’t everyone sit on highways like 101 every day?

Stephen E Arnold, August 7, 2023


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