Who Exactly is Asking for Self-Driving Cars?

By on December 9, 2016

I want to comment on the baffling emphasis being put on self-driving cars, specifically by Google and Elon Musk.  There isn’t one aspect of this concept that makes practical sense to me and I see it on a par with Google Glass in terms of its necessity (as in “not remotely”).  I like science fiction but I’m able to separate it from reality.  We don’t need more excuses to use our brains less than we already do (remember being able to work out math and spell long words in your head?).  It’s easy to argue against it while self-driving technology is in such an embryonic stage, but I’m uncomfortable with foreseeable problems like short-circuiting and people hacking into the self-driving cars.  The technology will be wonderful once all the kinks are worked out but it’s the transition between now and then that’s concerning.  If you can’t drive, have a relative or friend drive you or rent a cab or call Uber; don’t put yourself or the rest of us in danger.  (This paragraph will seem dumb and short-sighted in 20 years, if not sooner.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/business/self-driving-tesla-fatal-crash-investigation.html?_r=0

http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/tech/2016/09/19/three-crashes-so-far-google-self-driving-cars-chandler/90411940/

On a related note, I’m sure Elon Musk is a smart guy (he co-invented Paypal), but it’s yet to be seen that Tesla is actually going to be a solid and reliable car (much less self-driving car) manufacturer.  Along with the massive financial investment, they need to take into account the collateral damage that’s going to occur in the process of refining the technology.  At this point, it all seems like much ado about nothing and a terrible use of the time, talent and money.

Then there’s the Space-X crash (weren’t there two of them?).  I’d never come across this UFO theory before:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/09/10/elon-musk-we-have-not-ruled-out-that-ufo-caused-space-x-explosion/

The desire for private space travel or to have colonies of people on the moon or other planets is even more impractical than the self-driving car.  The easiest supporting point is that we’re destroying the planet we’re already on, and we’re MEANT to be here.  Looking at it biologically, we’d be an invasive species, and that rarely works out well.  Besides, there’s too much we still don’t know about THIS planet.  I think there’s a relevant saying in the bible about putting your house in order.

The prioritizing is all wrong and the self-driving car and space travel shouldn’t be priorities for anyone when more should be done to:

- end world hunger

- solve the world’s drinking water problem

- solve biological problems like the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef by coral bleaching, which is apparently caused by global warming, something I don’t know enough about to comment on.  This planet is constantly evolving, and that includes climate.  Additionally, because the Earth is an organism, it has mechanisms to heal itself, like how we scab after injuries before completely healing.  In the same way animals in nature adapt, the same has to hold true for this planet.  Then I watch something like the 2012 documentary feature “Chasing Ice”, whose argument that we are directly responsible for the melting of massive glaciers is extremely convincing.  It’s hard to argue with facts.

- make homes (especially those areas with brutal winters and/or sweltering summers) more energy self-sufficient.  In other words, improve home solar energy systems so they’re much more efficient and less cumbersome and less inexpensive.  The cost of heating a home during winter in the northeast is more brutal than the cold itself.  Especially for people who aren’t wealthy and who have families, progress in this area can’t happen fast enough.  Homes could still be connected to a power grid without being completely dependent on it.  I met a woman originally from CT who moved to FL in part because she got tired of paying $1000 a month to heat her house.  The obvious roadblock here is energy industry lobbyists.

- do something about the overwhelming mental health care problem in this country.  A LOT more.  A good start would be for people who need therapy to see doctors.  (Hint:  If you feel an uncontrollable need to impose yourself on others in a hateful way, step to the front of the line.)  Unfortunately, the people that need it most are often the last ones to consider it.  Then we read about them in the news.  Or deal with them closer to home.  Personally, I think racism starts out as a mental health issue.

- make health care and health care insurance better and less expensive

- devise better ways of dealing with our waste, especially things like electronics and batteries

- I have a soft spot for animals and this story is absolutely heartbreaking.  For all our technology, we’re completely helpless in helping them.  Why isn’t something like this more of a priority than living on the moon or another planet? https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/04/03/whale-stuck-in-thick-ice-off-newfoundland-dies-as-rescuers-free-trapped-dolphins.html

In looking at that list, I seem like an even more starry-eyed dreamer than Musk.  I may as well have asked for a pony for Christmas.

DPW

December 9, 2016

About Dan Walker

As part of an Air Force family, I went to elementary school in Great Falls, MT, junior high in Cheyenne, WY and high school and college in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in business. I was fortunate to have worked for great companies in Silicon Valley (Oracle Corp) and Hollywood (Miramax Films). I also lived and worked (primarily in financial services, which has no great companies) for eight years in Manhattan, New York City. I now reside in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley.

One comment on “Who Exactly is Asking for Self-Driving Cars?

  1. Jeremy Walker on said:

    Great read Dan, factual and funny!

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