Further to Spartacus’ rant the other day about the pathway to the elimination of cash, consider the evolution of self driving cars.
Lets us not fool ourselves. Self driving cars are coming. Don’t believe Spartacus. Listen to Bob Lutz, a former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors and also former senior executive with Ford, Chrysler, BMW and Opel. According to Mr Lutz:
The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway.
We are not there yet, but it is not a matter of technology. The technology is pretty much here already. What is not yet developed is the social and regulatory architecture.
Consider for example a car hurtling along when a young child runs out in front. There is not sufficient time or space for the car to stop and its only options are either to hit the child or to swerve away and hit another car killing its occupants. What should the driver do?
With a human driver, given the limited time to decide, the driver will revert to instinct or reflex and the outcome would have a randomness to it. But with self driving cars, the car’s computer would be programmed to make pre-determined assessments. The car’s response could be random or the car’s response would be to preserve other drivers on the road or to preserve the child. The self driving car’s computer may even have an algorithm that estimates the age of the “road runner” and may have different options depending on the age of runner. These decisions would need to be decided and coded in advance. And the legislative and insurance architecture would need to be in sync.
But consider if all the cars on the road were self driving. In the scenario above, the car could swerve away from the child and the other car will synchronously swerve away too, thus protecting everyone. But that synchronization could only happen if both cars are self driving.
And so it will be argued that it is safer for everyone if no-one drives and so for this and other reasons governments will outlaw human driving. Fewer accidents. Less traffic because of speed and navigation optimisation across cars.
So now with every single payment and receipt being tracked and logged because of the elimination of cash, most every single movement will be tracked and logged also. And in a bonus, because the transport will have to be paid for, the payment for the movement will also be tracked and logged.
Now there are clearly some pluses to this. No more traffic fines. No more parking fines. No more parking meters. But don’t think for a second that state and local governments will re-engineer themselves for a lower tax revenue life. Perhaps they will start selling your movement data.
But the big state is about to get even bigger. All in the name of consumer outcomes.
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