Driverless Cars – an anti-social future in the making?
【Summary】Driverless Cars – an anti-social future in the making?
With an increase in the use of high technology and mobile devices, more and more it seems that people are disconnected from one another. Just take a trip on the subway in New York City, or a ride on the "Tube" in London, and you'll witness the passengers staring down at their electronic toys.
"There aren't many places to mingle these days. Sure, there are shared spaces: parks, coffee shops, crammed subways and sidewalks. But it's the rare place that lends itself to promoting actual interaction and conversations among strangers. And with the advent of driverless cars … there will be even fewer such places. Ridesharing cars have become places where strangers actually talk to each other, where people who may not otherwise have met in our self-segregated society interact.
These types of deep conversations with your taxi driver may soon become a thing of the past. Uber and many other companies are pondering the utilization of driverless cars. Lyft is busy testing such cars right now in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Phoenix, Arizona. Lyft claims that within five years, the majority of the rides they offer will be autonomous. There are few people who believe that timeline is accurate however. But that autonomous future is "out there," somewhere, and it is gaining on humanity with ever increasing rapidity.
By now we've all be told many times about the benefits of autonomous vehicles. We'll be safer. People die every single day on America's roadways. There is also the issue of drunk driving. Commuting, especially "extreme commutes" of more than 90 minutes each way, and enact a terrible toll on human health. This leads to depression, weight gain and even the possibility of a stroke.
Furthermore, if we're going to be driven around by a "robot brain," we'll be free to relax, sleep, watch a film or even learn a new language. We'll be happier, sleep better and enjoy more leisure time. Already, for the average American worker, 25 percent of all non-sleeping and non-working hours are spent stuck in traffic.
Yet self-driving vehicles could further implement our societal "self-segregation."
"[About] 91 percent of the people in white Americans' closest social networks are white, and 83 percent of the people in black Americans' networks are black. We also self-segregate, at least when it comes to marriage [and] by education levels.
This brings us to the biggest question of all: will the taxis of the future enable travelers to talk in a freer way with one another? Will one of the benefits of "the cars of the future" be an increase in social discussions and healthy, deep, intellectual and honest discussions? Or will we find ourselves even more isolated? In this regard, it's not up to the robots. We humans still have the power to make that choice.
In all probability, commuters might begin to relish the chance to talk with people they're sharing a ride with in the robotic cars. The environment should be free and easy and "destressed." It's possible that this whole revolution in technology will bring to life many interesting and wholesome fruits.
The "Rise of the Machines" might just make being human a whole lot more fun.
Anthony C. LoBaido is a journalist, ghostwriter and photographer. He has worked in 53 nations around the world – from Laos to Lebanon, from Belize to Botswana and from Nepal to Namibia. He also published a book on the Kurds. Some of LoBaido’s favorite stories include attending the British Army’s jungle warfare training in Central America, retracing Lawrence of Arabia’s World War I trek through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, investigating the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone as popularized in the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same name, meeting “CNN hero” Aki Ra at one of his landmine digs in northern Cambodia, working with Time Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” Lek Chailert on her crusade to assist injured and abused elephants in Southeast Asia, rescuing HIV/Aids throw-away babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as visiting a leper colony in Myanmar. LoBaido’s articles have been cited by Ivy League universities such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. As a photographer, LoBaido made National Geographic in 2014.
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