Both Longrider and The Englishman’s Castle are worried about the deployment of data recorders in cars, and the development of “intelligent cars” which will take over to prevent you doing something stupid like drive up a one-way street.
Black boxes will record data in the event of a crash or near airbag deployment event, covering the few seconds before the incident. This will be used to ascertain who broke first and the speed each party was doing by the police and insurance companies. The Englishman says “You are being watched as you drive”. As part of the continuous montioring of the motorist, I have some sympathy with this view. However I’ve little problem with evidence from the cars being taken to see who’s lying in their insurance claim: “I was only doing 30mph…” well your car’s data recorder says you rounded that bend at 60. Do you want to reconsider your account before you get done for insurance fraud? Because liars cost us all in extortionate insurance premiums.
Obviously I oppose continuous monitoring which would see data from the cars leading to speeding tickets, but in the event of an accident, clearly it’s in everyone’s interest to be accurate about what happened. If an option to have a recorder would lead to a lower premium, would you take it? The roads are already a benthamite panopticon, so who cares?
Intelligent cars is another issue. Longrider doesn’t like the concept:
I don’t care how intelligent these cars are made, ultimately, it is the driver who is best placed to make decisions about prevailing conditions and the appropriate action to take in the event of an incident – including a mistake on their own part. A car that suddenly takes over is potentially highly dangerous.
He offers no evidence for this assertion. Cruise control is becomming more sophisticated, to the extent that new Mercedes are almost able to drive themselves on motorways. The DARPA Grand Challenge has been won, which means that autonomous cars are approaching the market. Within a few years, you may be able to get into a car, type a post-code into the dashboard shut your eyes and have a snooze until you get to your destination. Longrider again mistrusts the insurance companies, but if they accept the technology, they will do so for a reason: that one day cars will drive themselves better, safer than we can.
I hate driving. Actually that’s not true. I’ve driven on empty roads in summer, and I’ve driven on tracks. That’s fun, when you have a car set up for the purpose. However the daily grind to work or schlepping accross the country to see family or friends is miserable. I long to be liberated from the chore of driving. I long to be allowed to have a drink and get into a car which drives itself home. And that WILL require some form of black box, because you will need to know what happened when the technology fails and there are crashes. Insurance companies will bet that machines are better at driving than we are, but they still need to apportion blame, for that is the nature of insurance.
There is a difference between a black box used to answer questions in the event of an incident and a monitoring system which can be used against you when there hasn’t been an accident. The former does not impinge on your liberty to do as you wish (without costing anyone, and that includes the insurance company, anything) and the latter which WOULD be a gross intrusion into privacy. The former is also vital to the development of autonomous vehicles, which would be a great step forward.