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Self-driving Cars for a Self-negating Humanity

Self-driving Cars for a Self-negating Humanity

Can you imagine life without your phone or without the television? I guess it’s hard, but what if you have no microwave in the kitchen, no boiler, and no hair dryer. Those are things you never think about, you just have them. You buy them, you use them, and then you replace them with the new ones.  That is what we all do. I suppose you can't imagine life without technology, but the people who lived 500 years ago couldn't even dream about a bulb!

So my question is: what if we can’t imagine some products that will be considered to be ordinary a hundred years from now? What if we think about it only when we watch science fiction movie? And finally, what if we make something so big and so great that our own existence loses its purpose?

Let me explain what I mean. We try so hard to make everything automated, so we can live our lives without moving a finger. But we forget to ask ourselves: with what money are we planning to live? There will be no jobs for us, because we gave all our knowledge and our skills to the machines. We made already self-driving cars, so it’s not science fiction anymore. Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla already released cars with ability to drive without human assistance. Some of the vehicles with the ability to brake, accelerate and steer a car’s course without a driver’s actions are already on the roads, but also are some cars with the full ability to drive without a human help. Self-driving taxis roll out in Singapore! It`s The Guardian’s article published few days ago, and the title is very clear. NuTonomy is a company for software for self-driving cars, and it already found its use in a Singapore business park, where self-automated cars started driving real people. This brand, just like Google or Uber, says that this type of driving is much safer, because people can be unpredictable drivers. So if you love your car and you think you are a good driver, enjoy in it, because soon the time will come to say goodbye to your steering wheel.

If we need self-driven cars on the pretext that humans are unpredictable, and this way of driving is more comfortable and safer, why and how, at a later point, won’t we need a self-loving partner, or self-growing children? If the trend advances towards its logical end, be sure that machines, namely some sort of near-human robots, will make a much more logical partner or child.

We can agree that this is a big step for the technology, but of course it will have some consequences. Thousands of people will lose their jobs because of fully autonomous cars. Professional drivers will be completely unnecessary, and also people who work on maintenance, repair and fueling cars. Is it really worth it?

Author Martin Ford wrote Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future and said that we must decide whether we want to stop ourselves from creating all those things that once were only futuristic ideas, or we want more innovations that might risk economic inequality and insecurity of our future. So many jobs will be eliminated; so many professions will disappear.  And why might humanity allow that to happen? Because of many things: curiosity, ambition, or even recklessness…  Everyone feels sometimes that burning desire to create something nobody ever did; it is in the human nature. Someone wants to create artificial intelligence, exactly like someone wants to create an original work of art.

As humanity keeps delegating its basic functions step by step to the machines, it also encounters some sharp dilemmas. A very critical question has to be answered right at this point: If we keep delegating our humane functions to the machines, is there a reason to stop somewhere along the way? If we need self-driven cars on the pretext that humans are unpredictable, and this way of driving is more comfortable and safer, why and how, at a later point, won’t we need a self-loving partner, or self-growing children? If the trend advances towards its logical end, be sure that machines, namely some sort of near-human robots, will make a much more logical partner or child. And every step will have been taken so wisely and necessarily until then, it will be impossible to say oh that’s too much!

What will happen, we’ll see. Or our children will. The technology will not decide about what happens with people, but people will have that power. Maybe we’ll destroy humanity, because we are so consistent in negating our importance, not as scientist and IT experts, but as human beings. Try to make your own coffee tomorrow morning, don’t take it from coffee-automat. Buy your Coca-Cola in a shop; talk with the seller – about weather, about self-driving cars, about anything. Enjoy in those real things and real people around you, because you never know… Maybe the story about Sarah O`Connor and Terminator wasn`t that impossible.

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