In a statement that should surprise nobody who’s given it more than a few moments of thought, Barrie Kirk, Executive Director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Center of Excellence, stated that he believed there’s going to be a lot more car-fucking once we let the cars drive. No shit, Barrie.
Specifically and with less profanity, what Director Kirk said was
I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars.
I absolutely agree with this. In fact, almost a year ago, I predicted that the first case of boning while in an autonomous car should happen, well, any day now, really.
I mean, think about it: if you’re on an hours-long car trip with someone you enjoy boning anyway, why wouldn’t you expect that such bonings would occur if people are trusting the car enough to do the driving.
This is, of course, just one of many possible activities that a human in an autonomous car may be doing instead of paying attention to what’s going on outside the car, and, as the Canadian researchers have realized, that human behind the robo-controlled wheel may not be necessarily reliable to take over control of the car when needed.
At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I have to say this is not news to me. As a current human, I know all about how terrible we are at remaining vigilant about a task that we don’t actually need to perform. In fact, I wrote about this last year as well, and I came to the same conclusion: you can’t rely on a person to take control from an autonomous car in an emergency.
Our brains simply don’t work that way. If the car can drive itself, nobody is going to stay with their hands hovering over the wheel, ready to wrest control back from the car once we trust the cars to drive themselves. If we did that, what would be the point of an autonomous car in the first place?
If people are so willing to hand off driving to the car’s electro-brain, it’s got to be all or nothing. You can’t have the car take control, and then expect passengers to jump in and rescue things if the situation gets dicey. An autonomous car can warn passengers that it needs to hand off to humans as long as there is no time pressure for the result. That means, the car must be able to recognize a situation where it determines its ability would be compromised, then it must be able to find a safe place to stop and wait for a human to take over.
Canada is now considering how to regulate autonomous cars. As this CBC article notes:
But last month’s federal budget included money for Transport Canada to develop regulations around automated vehicle design.
Those regulations, at least initially, would require that the vehicles are equipped with a “failsafe mechanism that can respond to situations when the driver is not available,” said the briefing notes.
Ontario also set out some regulations, including a requirement that an expert in autonomous vehicles be in the driver’s seat and able to assume full control at a moment’s notice.
That “failsafe mechanism” is essentially what I mentioned above: the car has to be able to find a safe spot to wait in while the humans inside pull their pants back on and figure out where the hell they are and what’s going on.
The requirement that “an expert in autonomous vehicles be in the driver’s seat,” though, that’s not going to fly. That feels like a version of the old Red Flag Laws, and we all know eventually there’s no reason to believe anyone will be in the driver’s seat at any given moment. Plus, what is an “autonomous driving expert?”
Fully autonomous vehices aren’t here just yet, not even from Tesla, but it makes sense to figure out what all the rules for them are going to be now. How we want to live with them will affect their development, so it makes sense to start thinking about the many, many issues they’ll raise now.
And we should just admit everyone’s probably going to try fucking in them, at least once.