My favorite self-driving car would be powered by a Chorus Motor — Chorus being a subsidiary of Borealis, the grandparent of WheelTug  — but leave my childish fantasies aside.

This video shows how far along driverless cars were even three years ago.  And with benefits I hadn’t thought of.

First, you save thousands of lives.  (Thirty-three thousand are lost here each year to car crashes versus zero so far from Ebola contracted in America.)

Second, of course, you can snooze, schmooze, or snack safely while speeding along.

So far, so obvious.

But third — all this a ways off, to be sure — self-driving cars will have faster reflexes and surer motor skills than the least-talented drivers for whom today’s roads are designed.  Thus they will allow for slightly narrower lanes . . . and a little less space between each car . . . and higher speed limits . . . which could add perhaps 40% more capacity to existing highways, either to handle more vehicles or, if their count did not rise, eliminate traffic jams.  Which would also save time and energy.

(Until everyone had such cars, only something akin to the HOV lanes of certain highways might allow cars to travel safely when closer together.  But eventually, driver-controlled cars might be outlawed in all but the slowest lane — and perhaps even there — just as horse-drawn carriages are now.)

And you seriously don’t want to live forever to watch all this unfold?  I do!  I do!

So I’d just as soon our country — and our species — not hurtle off the rails for lack of leaders who “believe in” science . . . and in compromise, diplomacy, enlightened regulation, and whatever else 7.2 billion people (up from 2.5 billion when I was born) might need to have a prayer of surviving on the tiny space ship they all share.  So please get every young person you know to vote.

And speaking of young people and the future . . .

WEBSITE FOR YOUR KIDS OR GRANDKIDS

Grandkids?  You look much too young to have grandchildren between the ages of 15 and 30 — what’s you’re secret? But here it is anyway: a website for youth around the world who want to make that world better.  It gets millions of hits from young people speaking 13 different languages.

FOOTNOTES ON THE CAR THING

> Nothing about driverless vehicles is great news for aspiring taxi and truck drivers.  (Bus drivers might take on more of a flight-attendant role, providing peanuts.  Limo drivers, more of a butler role, shaking martinis.)  Delivery costs will fall.  But as argued here (“Reductio Ad Absurdum”), increased productivity, for all its enormous benefits, poses challenges.

> Traffic deaths peaked around 54,000 in 1974.  That the number could have fallen by 40% even as our population increased by half is quite an achievement; and speaks to the value (I would argue) of such things as government (not Republicans’ favorite institution) and aggressive trial lawyers (with whom I have my differences, but who clearly serve an important function few Republicans are keen to acknowledge).  Just sayin’.  Only important if your loved one was one of the extra 48,000 or so fatalities that did not occur this year, in part because of government regulations and the work of the trial bar. 

 

 

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