Autonomous cars and a lack of margins.

The Google Driverless Car

This article was left over on my reading list from yesterday.

At a 2009 technology conference, Brad Templeton of the Electronic Frontier Foundation lectured on the promise of autonomous vehicles; when asked by a member of the audience how a society that didn’t have to pay attention to the world would be affected in its perception and cognitive abilities, he responded: “I don’t think that’s a bug. I think it’s a feature.” After all, he said, we would be freed to read or be otherwise productive in the car. Of course, one might object that there are ways in which paying attention to the world is a “feature” and not a “bug”: surely, for one thing, there are things in the world worth paying attention to. [Link]

I don’t have any real thoughts or analysis on this.  It simply makes me sad that our culture’s non-stop drive to work and make money for its own sake means that Mr. Templeton suggests that people would be “freed to read or be otherwise productive in the car.”

If this is the wave of the future, I wish that it might be advertised in a different way.  Such as: saying that consumers would be “freed to read or otherwise relax in the car.”  We tend to always try to squeeze extra work into the unoccupied periphery of our lives.  We meed margins!

For myself, this my daily commute represents the only part of the day wherein I can let my mind rest a little bit, so I turn on an audiobook.  At home, I try to turn off the computer at least an hour before I go to sleep, just to give my brain some time to relax and settle before I go to sleep.  And the funny thing is that my productivity goes up when I allow myself some extra time to decompress.