Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Computer, Take the Wheel

For many, the ability to drive represents a key milestone of freedom in America. The ability to grab the steering wheel and take your car across town or even across the country has been idealized as part of our society for more than three quarters of a century.

Dan Neil of he Wall Street Journal explores the ongoing effort to take manual control of the car out of the equation. There would still be freedom to get around, but the ultimate feeling of control might be diminished just a bit as computers take over the actual driving responsibility.

As someone who personally hates driving, I welcome that day. It simply cannot come soon enough.

My personal desires notwithstanding, here’s why the idea of computer-assisted driving is so disruptive:

The cost of automobile accidents in the U.S. (measured in death, disability, health care and property loss) totals $300 billion annually, according to AAA estimates. The cost of traffic congestion (lost productivity, wasted petroleum, among other factors) AAA reckons at about $100 billion. Taken together, the costs of automotive death and delay equal 2.6% of GDP.

If technology can help make us safer and more efficient in our travels, let’s get there sooner than later.

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  1. Given the number of people who are in cars doing just about anything other than driving, I guess it’s the next step.

    I actually like driving (and, prefer a manual shift car), so I’m not particularly crazy about this idea. Hopefully there will still be options for those of us who enjoy driving. If not, I have a feeling I will suddenly become a classic car enthusiast–assuming those will be grandfathered into the equation. 

  2. Is the post title a play on the Carrie Underwood song? If so, major cultural reference props to you…

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