English: Google driverless car operating on a testing path (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Long held as symbols of American individualism-allowing us to display our personal style while at the same time giving us the autonomy to go anywhere-cars are also the last bastions of privacy in an overly connected society. While cruising California’s two-lane blacktops, or Orange County’s multi-lane freeways, we can play our music as loud as we want and sing along without bothering anyone. Predicted to be commercially available by the end of the decade, the driverless car threatens to take this experience away from us. The extent to which this could happen is currently being considered by the Department of Motor Vehicles as it drafts rules to regulate the cars.
Two of the DMV’s main questions in coming up with the legislation are whether or not a driver must be behind the wheel of the cars, which rely on sensors and computers to operate them, and car manufacturers should be allowed to “mine data from onboard computers to make product pitches based on where the car goes or set insurance rates based on how it is driven,” reported USA Today. Previously, we wrote about how BMW engineers are researching how to use data collected about drivers to enable its cars to make personalized shopping suggestions for them, like where to find the best coffee while on a road trip or the type of T.V. set the driver had been researching at the lowest price and closest proximity.
While deciding on these questions and the numerous others, hopefully officials with the DMV will rule in favor of giving drivers options, for the sake of practicality and personal choice: allowing a computer to drive when we’re too tired or to alert us when that item we’ve been searching for is on sale nearby are appealing propositions, but computers break, privacy is scarce, and sometimes we may want to take control of the car and rev the engine.
How would you regulate driverless cars if you were writing the rules?
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