I am writing this on January 1, 2018 – which happens to be the day that recreational marijuana is being legalized in the state of California. Whatever you may think of this particular move, it’s worthwhile to note that at the same time that people are going to be lighting up, the state of California is getting people to NOT light up. And because government seeks to protect us from things that can harm us, there will be a point in which the recent move to legalize marijuana will be reversed.
But that’s not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk about making driving illegal.
Because of the recent reorganization of my employer, I’m looking a little more at driver’s licenses these days. And, of course, I’ve been looking at driverless cars in Tymshft for years.
So I was very interested in a recent National Review article that talked about a “war on driving.” And unlike the war on Christmas, the National Review writer proposes a Constitutional amendment to protect our way of life.
But why would anyone engage in a so-called war on driving?
Think about it.
While autonomous cars seem like a disaster waiting to happen, the truth is that human drivers are very accident-prone. Regardless of how you define the data measurement, tens of thousands of people die in automobile accidents every year. And why?
[D]rivers are concerned about safety. Some 83% of respondents said driving is a safety concern. But that hasn’t stopped many of them from speeding, texting, or driving while impaired by alcohol, prescription medication, or marijuana.
Whoops – there’s marijuana again. But the point being made is that autonomous driving algorithms, if designed correctly, will actually be safer than human drivers.
So what does this mean for the future? Back to National Review.
At some point in the future, be it years, decades, or a century hence, the federal government will seek to ban driving.
This, I’m afraid, is an inevitability. It is inexorably heading our way. The dot sits now on the horizon. As is common, the measure will be sold in the name of public health. “Now that robots can do the work,” its bloodless advocates will explain, “there’s no need for human involvement.” And from then: On, the snowball will roll….
Our debate will rest largely upon charts. The American Medical Association will find “no compelling reason to permit the citizenry to drive,” and Vox will quote it daily. Concurring in this assessment will be The New England Journal of Medicine, the Center for American Progress, and the newly rechristened Mothers against Dangerous Driving, for which outfits “dangerous” will have become a lazily supplied synonym for “human.” Atop this endless statistical beat will be a steady stream of mawkish anecdotes. “Joey was just 17.” “Sarah had three kids.” “Not a day goes by in which . . . ”
Those who are familiar with National Review will realize that it opposes such measures as a threat to liberty and privacy, both from public and private entities. (Do you want the California Department of Public Health or Google or Tesla knowing where you are going…and trying to redirect you somewhere else?)
And as I previously noted, the National Review suggests a Constitutional amendment to remedy this frightening future. The exact wording isn’t important – frankly, I’d choose slightly different wording than the National Review did – but the point is that the freedom to go places is presented as a freedom that is just as important as the freedom to peaceably assemble.
After all, how can you peaceably assemble if you can’t get yourself to the place of peaceable assembly?