No more 'Fahrvergnügen' when your self-driving car is taken over by the state! -- #SurveillanceState.

posted Jan 15, 2013, 3:02 AM by Peter Joseph Moons

Comments by Peter Joseph Moons:

The current zeitgeist is worried about the legal aspects of who is liable should a self-driving vehicle become involved in an accident.  As the Time article recognizes, insurance companies have yet to work out details of acceptable conduct/responsibility with self-driving cars. However, these are not the biggest worries.

In current autos, the driver is nearly completely autonomous: they independently make many decisions every minute, even whether to follow the extant laws of driving or not.  So besides the "fahrvergnugung" that will be lost by erstwhile drivers when they enter their self-driving cars, much autonomy will also go by the wayside.
Google's Self-Driving Car (

There will have to be many government regulations covering self-driving cars; however, perhaps special lanes will give them priority.  Eventually, there is the possibility that driver driven cars will be taxed.  This would be likely when governments realize that self-driving cars, buses, and trucks are safer and reduce the number of accidents.  There will be a tipping point when self-driving vehicles are so common that non-self-driving vehicles stand out as oddities, or baubles of the rich.  Governments will want to ensure that all self-driving vehicles follow the governments' rules on speed, times of travel, distances traveled, number of stops, and certainly many other factors that are now decided by today's autonomous driver.  

The most serious, foreseeable, threat to freedom with self-driving vehicles is the potential lack of autonomy.  Imagine getting into your personal vehicle in the morning, scanning your iris with the on-board identity scanner (to ensure you are authorized to be in the vehicle), telling the disembodied voice of the driver "go to the office," and off the car goes.  The self driving  vehicle is linked to a vast network of data that determines the most efficient route to the destination, not you, and is communicating with other vehicles, traffic lights, traffic sensors, and the government network during the journey.  There will be better efficiency in the system when computers are making decisions, but loss of individual control.  Lastly, if the government wants to stop all self-driving vehicles in an area or drive to a specific place, that action would be easy to enforce with a simple order to all such vehicles wirelessly.  

Perhaps this technology spells the end of the "high speed chase."

Government Control Grade: 2
Freedom Grade: 8. (Depending on government regulations, these numbers will change.)