There’s no doubt that technology is moving at a rapid pace and has been doing so for the last decade. Over the years, we have seen how technological advancements can be both a blessing and a curse to our world. We have seen first-hand how smartphones have diminished face to face communication and placed barriers between individuals. On the other hand, we appreciate the many ways that technology has been working towards our advantage in various sectors such as education, medical, and so on.
I mean, that is the end goal with technology, right? It is intended to make our lives simpler and help society grow as efficiently as possible.
In recent years, there has been a large discussion around the topic of self-driving cars. Flash-forward, one year and the reality of this thought may be coming to life sooner than anybody could have expected. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, believes that “by the middle of 2020, Tesla’s autonomous system will have improved to the point where drivers will not have to pay attention to the road”. What a concept.
While the idea of autonomous cars is an intriguing one, there is also some skepticism around it. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the future of transportation.
The Elimination of Driver Error
Studies show that 85% of accidents are a result of human error, whether it be drunk driving, speeding, texting, or other distractions faced on the road. By taking drivers out of the picture, the issue of human mistakes would no longer be prevalent, therefore saving hundreds of lives that are lost due to road accidents every day.
Autonomous cars may eliminate congestion and traffic jams by having higher speed limits and being able to sense other vehicles around them.
Increased Mobility for the Young, Elder, and Disabled
Many people don’t know how to drive or cannot drive due to a disability or medical problems. Self-driving vehicles would offer a more significant opportunity for these people to get around and do what they need to do daily.
Better for the Environment
Self-driving vehicles would not run on gas but instead electricity, therefore reducing air pollution and emissions that regularly release due to constant acceleration and braking.
Enhanced Traveling Experiences
If drivers no longer have to pay attention to the road, they have more time to focus on work, chatting with friends, or sleeping.
Occupational Loss for Automobile Industry
When Uber and Lyft made their way into our lives, Taxi companies suffered greatly, and there was a significant loss in jobs. When self-driving cars implement into society, there will be even more job loss due to lack of demand for these services.
No technology is perfect, and there are often issues within programming and computer systems. Autonomous vehicles being a computer system increases chances of these faults that could lead to malfunctions and even more dangerous driving circumstances if brakes don’t work or if the car doesn’t sense other vehicles around it.
Accidents are inevitable, no matter if it’s a human error or technological error. If there is an accident between two autonomous vehicles, who pays the price if there is no personal liability? This seems like it would cause a conflict between car manufacturers and insurance companies.
Hackers are a genuine problem in our world today. If autonomous cars were on the road and a hacker found a way to access the car’s software, they could take control of the vehicle and get it to do anything. This would be a great danger to oneself and others on the road.
Lack of Intuition
While some may disagree, there is a level or morality and intuition that is imperative when it comes to operating a vehicle. For instance, if there is an autonomous car driving by and a child starts running in front of the car, how would the program react to such a situation or know where to go? Some decisions on the road have to be sought out and acted upon within a second in order to avoid disaster, and this may be difficult for a computer that is programmed to perform only in the way that it is set up.
These are just a few benefits and costs of self-driving cars. Researchers and scientists would have to go through a list of the short and long term projection of this technology to decide how it would function positively in our world. If you have any opinions or thoughts, we would love to hear them and get an idea about where the rest of society stands on this debate.