Driverless cars? I scoff at the idea, though I probably shouldn’t. This new-fangled technology has advanced at a record pace. We’re a long way from the days when Fred Flintstone not only drove the car, but he powered it, too.
Let me cut to the chase. I’m hesitant to accept the lack of control. I don’t like being a passenger, let alone the thought of letting some software package chock full of artificial intelligence serve as my chauffeur. If I’m in the car, I want to drive. When a couple thousand pounds of vehicle is hurling down the interstate filled with 18 gallons of flammable fluid, it will be my hands on the wheel, my foot on the accelerator, my eye on the road, and my ear on the radio — not some inane device calling the shots. That’s just me.
If they (whoever they are) can steal government secrets, hack airlines, immobilize essential equipment and jam radio signals, they sure the heck can take over the direction my car is heading. When the driverless car has been hijacked by some geek in a dirty T-shirt with a joystick and nothing better to do, I’m not going to be three feet from the brake pedal perched in a lounge chair with my feet kicked up, “just enjoying the ride” — not me.
So what did we get our granddaughter for her second birthday? A remote control car. Not one of those small ones that run around on the driveway like a water bug on a pond, but a mini-Jeep that she can sit in, take hold of the steering wheel, press an accelerator, turn on lights and listen to a radio. The reality of it is that she’s not doing anything she thinks she’s doing — after all, she’s 2 years old. Dad’s doing all of it from his lawn chair.
She’s tooling all over the yard, the driveway, the sidewalk, smiling from ear-to- ear. Dad’s on the front porch, nursing a Budweiser, legs crossed, with one eye looking through the glass storm door, watching a football game.
She loved her new gift. We had to pull her out of it at dusk. Between the visibility and a poopy diaper, it was time to end this charade. She loved it. She just sat in the car, not a care in the world, making her way around the front yard like a mole without any traps, tooling this way and that way with no particular path or direction.
I contend that in a few months, she’ll figure out that she’s not doing the driving, nor anything else for that matter. She will not like it. “Me do!” “Me do!” she’ll bellow. See, even at 2 years and a few months old, she’ll want control. It’s just the way we’re wired.
The microwave, garage door opener, air conditioner, smartphone and TV remote are cool, but we’re still in control. Even auto-pilot on an airplane only assists. Self-driving cars are not for me — too little control, too much room for error. Nope, not for me.