Saturday, August 20, 2016

Uber This

“It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.”– Clive James

They say we’ll have self-driving trucks within five years. Uber taxis are now available in San Francisco and are scheduled to start up in Pittsburgh. Drones will soon be delivering your pizza. I’m sure this is the future. But I’m not sold on it yet. It’s not that I have an issue with technology. I’d love to have an Uber robot or just about anyone who doesn’t talk, drive me around as long as they drive the way I think they should. And robot truck drivers are probably not inclined to be texting, while trying to eat a cheeseburger and pee in an Big Gulp cup while rolling down the highway at 78 mph. So that might be a good thing. And there is the whole driver shortage and hours of service stuff that pretty much goes away when you can just build a driver right into the vehicle.

So in theory the idea of robot driven cars and trucks would seem like a positive step forward for humankind. I have this one little problem though. I’m sort of a control freak. I mean I don’t even like to use cruise control. My wife on the other hand uses every technology she can get on a car. Cruise control, lane change warning, auto braking when she’s too close to the car in front of her, and those annoying directions (“turn left in .5 miles…turn left in .2 miles…turn left in .1 miles…turn left now…rerouting”…and on it goes. I hate that.). I like having certain information. Tell me about traffic problems, tell me about road construction, but then let me do my thing, my way. (Ok, so I may have issues).

To say that I am a defensive driver would be an understatement. I am all about 360 degree awareness. And I guess I should embrace any technology that expands and enhances my defensive driving ability. But part of my defensiveness comes from not being a very trusting person. And it’s nothing personal. I love people. Well, I might have exaggerated a bit there. Let’s just say, I like most people and with God’s help I try to love all people. But I’m not perfect and no one else is either. Including the folks who manufacture and program self-driving vehicles. So I am not ready to trust them yet.

I may end up being the last guy standing on a corner somewhere waiting for a taxi that actually has a human being behind the wheel. And while I’ve had some bad rides with some really bad taxi drivers, I’d still rather take my chances with a bad human taxi driver than an automaton.

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