Enabling the development of driverless cars will require squadrons of lawyers because a variety of state, local and federal laws presume that a human being is operating the automobiles on our roads. No state has anything close to a functioning system to inspect whether the computers in driverless cars are in good working order, much as we routinely test emissions and brake lights. Ordinary laws change only if legislators make those revisions a priority. Yet the mundane political issues of the day often appear quite pressing, not to mention politically safer than enabling a new product that is likely to engender controversy.Then he makes another important point on his blog:
[I]t is an interesting question why there is no popular movement to encourage driverless cars. Commuting costs are very high and borne by many people. You can get people to hate plastic bags, or worry about a birth certificate, but they won’t send a “pro-driverless car” postcard to their representatives. The political movement has many potential beneficiaries but few natural constituencies. (Why? Does it fail to connect to an us vs. them struggle?) This is an underrated source of bias in political outcomes.I think the answer to his question is that handing over the keys to a robot seems to humans like a loss of freedom. Right now, people feel complete empowerment when they climb into the driver's seat of a vehicle. No longer is their "body" a 100 kilo meatsack. It is now ten times as large, bristling with power and electronics. Invictus runs through their head: "I am master of my fate, I am captain of my soul." And off they go, their Id now including a 16 foot aluminum exoskeleton on wheels they are now wearing.
Climbing into a car and helplessly sitting there while it ferries you about isn't empowering at all.
All this is a shame, really, because the price we pay for our pride is 35,000 dead Americans every year.