Second Thoughts about Driverless Cars
Posted on June 1, 2014
My Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe, June 1, 2014:
Tom Keane's paean to the driverless car ("Driverless cars: Oh, what a wonderful world it will be," May 25, 2014) imagines a world where commuters will worry less about choosing homes far from their workplaces, 12-year-old kids will ride solo to basketball practice, and inebriated workers will arrive home safely without touching the steering wheel. Is this really where we should be investing our technology dollars on the eve of climate catastrophe?
Instead of spending billions making driving effortless, mindless, and indifferent to geography, why not invest in making mobility more environmentally sustainable, place-based, and socially just? Just imagine the massive amounts of energy it will take to store and transmit all the data required to keep driverless cars on course. And think, too, of the restored vibrancy we could bring to our cities if we spent those same billions making public transit safer, more comfortable, and more accessible.
Rather than ceding control of the steering wheel, let's take control of our mobility choices and spend our money where it's most likely to deliver us safely through the 21st century.