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Self-Driving Cars:

A Really, Really, Really Bad Idea


“Just because you can control something with a computer

doesn’t necessarily mean you should”

- Deschesne’s maxim

on IT interconnectedness



By:  David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal

September 25, 2019



   With the rapid advance of artificial intelligence and computer control, the concept of self-driving cars is becoming a reality.  But, despite all its glitz and glamour, is this really a direction we should be going in computer interconnectedness?  I suggest it’s a really, really, really bad idea.


   I’m sure anyone who uses a computer these days is familiar with the “pinwheel of death” - that is the cursor icon that indicates the computer is “thinking” or parsing information and the user has to wait for it to catch up with them.  It is called the pinwheel of death because you never know how long it’s going to spin or if it’s going to result in a program failure or computer crash wherein you will have to shut the computer down and restart it.  Despite all of our advances in processor speed and technological gadgetry, this does still happen frequently on modern computers.

   Another incessant problem is updates.  You can be working along, stop for a few minutes and come back to find your computer is automatically installing updates.  This inconvenience can last anywhere from twenty minutes to four hours or more.  Microsoft is notorious for “fixing it until it breaks” with their copious updates, but I’m sure Mac has the same issues.  While the two rivals think they are doing their customers a favor, updates are as inconvenient and debilitating as viruses can be.  For example, you’re about to start a Powerpoint presentation for a large business meeting and two minutes before you’re supposed to go on, your laptop computer plunges into a full update of the operating system, which can not only take hours, but lock your computer up and make it unusable for your presentation.  Contrary to what the cubicle dwellers who dream up these updates think, this is not convenient for the end user.

   Then, there’s the constant threat of hard drive or motherboard crash.  It’s always good to keep backups on disc or other local storage media because you never know when your computer is going to fail catastrophically.  As an aside, I am no fan of storing my data on “the cloud.”  I know Google is using the public school system to train our kids to place all their info on the cloud, but storage on the cloud requires you to have a functioning internet connection, a paid up to date cloud account (i.e. a monthly service fee) and the server owner to decide to let you have your data when you want it.  If you run afoul of the “authorities” you could loose ownership of your data to the cloud owners and never be able to retrieve it.

   These are just a few of the problems we computer users have to contend with on a daily basis for the convenience and efficiency of data processing that a computer can provide - so long as it is functioning properly.

Computers and Cars

   I guess it was around the mid- to late-1980s that we started to see simple computers showing up in our cars and trucks.  These took the form of electronic ignition systems.  There was a day when you could keep a set of plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, rotor, coil and condenser in a spare parts box in your vehicle and get your engine running again if you got stranded on the side of the road.

   Today, with coil packs and electronic ignition modules all connected back to a central mainframe, troubleshooting engine problems on the side of the road is now near impossible.  Not only did the manufacturers create a situation where the average person with a few simple tools can no longer troubleshoot, diagnose and repair his/her engine issues, the engine compartments themselves have been constructed in such a way as to make physical access to the engine impossible without stripping down the firewalls, fenders and dismantling half of the engine’s accessories in order to access anything. 

    The auto manufacturers call this “progress” but all it’s really done is create a financial windfall for the service departments at their dealerships since most of the computer programming has to be done by proprietary software only available to a dealer.

   But wait, there’s more.  Not only did the auto elitists install computers to control their engines, they also use a computer to control other formerly mechanical aspects of a car.  For example, in the “olden days” when you pressed the gas pedal, it was connected to a steel cable that then connected to the carburetor.  Today, it’s a sensor in the gas pedal connected by a data cable to the computer that controls how much gas your engine receives.  The transmission has also been fouled up with computers.  There was once a time when you shifted your car into gear and a linkage from the shifter to the transmission mechanically engaged the gears.  Today, you guessed it, it’s sensors, data cables, computers and solenoids.  We used to be able to change out transmissions in our dooryard with a floor jack.  Today, even if you could swap the transmission out, you still have to take your vehicle to a dealer to program the computer to recognize the new transmission.  Steering, braking and even the opening of doors are also being controlled by computers in some modern cars.  All of these control features can be hacked on some vehicles.  Recently, a computer hacker remotely hacked into the computer of a JEEP while it was being driven some distance away and proceeded to take control of the vehicle away from the driver. 

   This is a horrible way to build a car, but it’s only the beginning of this information trajectory that is going to end in complete and utter control of all travel by government bureaucrats sitting hundreds or thousands of miles away in bureaucratic cubicles; pushing buttons, identifying drivers and either enabling or disabling vehicles in a dystopian command and control travel grid that even Orwell could never have fathomed.  But, in order to get to that level of control, the elites have to take cars to the next level - that is, self-driving, autonomous vehicles where a computer alone is in control (and, by extension, the government that controls the computer).

Self-Driving Cars

   Some manufacturers have begun building prototypes of self-driving cars.  The authoritarian control mongers at Google (a/k/a NSA) have been at the forefront of developing this technology.  Currently, the self driving vehicles are semi-autonomous.  That means in controlled situations like long, smoothly curving sections of interstate highway systems where the roads are clear of obstructions, contain smooth flowing traffic and have cleanly painted lane lines, the car’s artificial intelligence algorithm can drive the car easily with no human interaction.

   Sleek, stylish, hip, the new age of automobiles certainly looks promising.  But remember, those cars are being run by computers which are just as glitchy, temperamental and unreliable as those mentioned previously.  I was recently watching a BBC documentary on self-driving cars where the host was sitting in the driver’s seat, allowing the car to drive for him, while carrying a conversation with the technicians from Audi - the designer of the car.  During the conversation he asked if the car got in an accident while it was being controlled by the computer, who would be financially responsible for the damage.   The Audi techs told him that if the car was fully engaged and controlled by the computer, then Audi (or the respective car manufacturer) would be at fault.  Now, that sounds good in theory, but the reality is car manufacturers have really deep pockets and teams of slick lawyers, so it remains to be seen if they would ever have to pay a dime in damages for catastrophic accidents caused by the failure or miscalculation of their quirky, unpredictable basket of transistors, ICs, and algorithms that are self-driving cars.

The Dystopian Future

   The powers that be - that is, government - are encouraging car manufacturers to proceed in this self-driving Artificial Intelligence control direction not because they are so concerned about providing sleek new convenience features for the masses.  No, governments today are only interested in the one thing all governments throughout history have ever been interested in: Control.

   Once the public has been adequately acclimated to the idea of self-driving cars (at least those who can afford the hundred thousand dollar plus price tag), government will then partner with the automobile manufacturers to provide us yet another convenience - rent-a-cars on demand.

   What this means is you would not even own a car (you probably wouldn’t be able to afford to buy one or maintain it at this point, anyway).  Instead, you would simply call a car service, talk to an A. I. bot, request a car and it would drive itself to your location, take you where you want to go, then return back to base, or go pick up the next commuter.  Sort of like an electronic, fully autonomous taxi service only the “driver” is a computer.   You will then be assessed the fee to use that vehicle via an electronic funds withdrawal directly from your bank account.

    While this may all sound well and good for the millennials and Gen Z types who have fully embraced technology as their personal world savior, you have to stop and consider how this could adversely affect our freedom of mobility and by extension, our freedoms overall.

   For example, consider the ramifications of a government that controls the dispatching of cars to the respective clients (they will have that control, you can count on it).  If you have any unpaid taxes, are wanted on warrants, or any other sundry government fines, penalties or fees unbeknownst to you, the car would pick you up and transport you to the nearest detention facility, locking you in the car as a veritable rolling prison until the “authorities” access the key code to open the doors and take you into custody.  I’m sure there are those now who would cheer at that idea.  After all, it would clean the streets of those pesky “criminals,” wouldn’t it?

   Well, that’s true, but what if you legitimately have no warrants, no unpaid fees or taxes and the government computer incorrectly flags you as a criminal?  How do you think your day would turn out?  Surely government databases have no errors and they never misidentify people.  Police never smash down the wrong doors and kill the wrong people in no-knock warrant raids, they are never given bad information by their informants and they never have to use government immunity for those officers who incorrectly kill the wrong person while “in the line of duty.”  Of course, I’m being facetious here.  The government today suffers all of those problems and more.   And the tech-hungry youth still think it’s a good idea to put that kind of technocratic infrastructure control in the hands of government.

   Government stupidity, incompetence and bumbling bureaucracy aside, what about if one faction - say, Democrats - gets into power and controls the transportation grid.  How would conservatives, or those registered as Republican do when calling for a car to take them to work, or the next pro-Republican presidential rally?  Would the autonomous self-driving cars show up?  If they showed up would they be programmed to take the longer route, or go at a reduced speed?  Would the service fee be higher?  Would those conservatives be unjustly detained at a local traffic prison as the warden tries to sort out if they are really a criminal or not?

   Human malevolence aside, it really can get worse.  The whole concept of a self-driving car is that it is controlled via artificial intelligence.  Man, in the form of government bureaucracies, in all his hubris actually believes he will remain in control when A.I. outpaces the ability of the human mind to think and reason.  When that happens, it will be the A.I. mainframe that controls who gets to travel and when.  The A.I. will control even government.

   We are currently not at that level of A.I. - the so-called “singularity” where computers have achieved the processing power of the human mind.  But most in that field are in agreement that we are probably only ten or fifteen years away from that milestone.

    There are some A.I. algorithms now that have been designed to write their own software to accomplish their own objectives; the programmers don’t even know how the A.I. is coming up with the code, what it is designed to do, or how it’s doing it.  We are, in effect, creating a master race that will outpace and outsmart our ability to compete with it.

   Governments think they will be able to control this genie once it’s out of the bottle, but most in the A.I. field have their doubts.  If we surrender our ability to freely control our own travel and destiny to government under the guise of “safety,” “security,” “convenience” and “capturing criminals” then we have voluntarily set a system into motion that will shackle and enslave us first to government slave masters, then to A.I.  Once we have been rendered completely dependent on the system and totally defenseless, then A.I. will then have to decide if we humans are even relevant anymore.  If it chooses we are no longer needed, then we will be exterminated and will have no way to fight back since our firearms will have been taken away from us (for our “safety”) by the politicians and ultimately our ability to rapidly move from one location to the other since our own modes of transportation will have been given away, first to government, then A.I.

  If you can’t freely travel and defend yourself and your family, you are not free.  That is the end game government has in store for us and that control grid may ultimately be wrested from their hands by the A.I. that was ostensibly built to serve us.


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