While an odd yet cute sci-fi romance, the movie “WALL-E” also shed some light on the harsh reality of where the world is headed. The movie displays the future of humans heavily reliant on technology to the point where entire lives occur from one’s seat on a spaceship.
The next step to that world is closer than we think with the advent of the automated car that Google is currently working on perfecting. According to an article from the Washington Post, these automated cars are already in the works by Volvo, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and it is expected test models will evolve into production cars by 2020.
That’s right, within this lifetime cars will be controlled by a computer chauffer, and they will communicate with each other. For those that like to feel in control of the vehicle they drive, it’s likely this will be a difficult transition. Not to mention some people actually like driving, it’s not fair to take that away from them.
Forbes reports that driverless technology is expected to significantly reduce the number of people killed in car accidents each year. It makes sense. By taking out the human error and distraction in driving, roads would be safer. But just think about how many times computers freeze, GPS signals are lost and cellphones have a weak signal before you trust technology to drive you 60 mph down the highway.
An article in the New York Times reports technologists believe these automated cars can transform society the way the Internet has. This is arguably true considering the Internet has allowed for people to become lazy and overly reliant on technology. The Internet is very convenient, but it has also severely taken away from the social interaction of humans. Similarly, having an automated chauffer would be convenient, but it would severely take away from a responsibility of humans that requires focus and awareness.
It would be ideal if users of this new technology took advantage of extra free time by not driving and become productive with it. Unfortunately, it’s much more likely it will become an excuse for people to spend more time engulfing themselves in cat videos and social media instead of focusing on their surroundings, bringing the human race closer to the population in “WALL-E.”
Rather than making humans lazier and more distracted by taking away the responsibility of driving, it would prove more effective to continue improving cars that severely reduce distracted driving by removing distractions from drivers such as blocking text messages while inside the car, strictly enforcing driving laws and improving current features such as back up cameras and blind spot sensors.
It would be effective for cars to communicate with each other to avoid accidents, but relying completely on the artificial intelligence of technology to drive a car poses serious risks for both the successfulness of driving and the future of human intelligence.
Ali Leist is a junior majoring in mass communications.