A Few Words About Self-Driving Cars

I am sure there is much to be said about this subject, but let me start with the obvious.  I would suspect there are hundreds, maybe thousands of lawyers that are salivating at the prospect of taking some big company to court over an accident piloted by a computer.

First, there is the possibility of suing the car manufacturer.  Then they might sue the company that built the computer, or one of the sensors.  Then there is the software company or person who wrote the programming of the computer.  Then again, why discriminate.  They can sue all of them and let the jurors sort it out.

Each time they level a lawsuit, it means 40% of something they would be able to put in their pocket.  My guess is, few if any of the suits would go to court.  The defendants would not want to set any kind of precedent, so they would likely settle out of court.  They would admit no guilt and the plaintiffs would agree to drop the suit.

It would mean, after an accident, the lawyer would raise his hand and say “Suit,” and the defendants would ask how much.  Then, the nation would have two more instant millionaires,  The lawyer and his client.

Then again, I’m not sure.  It might be four more millionaires.  It is entirely plausible that the parties from both cars might sue to to get a piece of the pie.  On the other hand, what if there are more than two cars involved.  The little glitch in the software just might cause a ten car pileup.  I don’t want to even think about that.

The point is, the lawsuits are no longer limited to the tens of thousands of dollars that an individual driver can cough up.  We are talking megabucks now, millions of dollars over what we now call a fender-bender.  Every dent is a possible lawsuit.

It is all ironic.  Eventually, the driver-less cars will be safer than those driven by humans.  It is quite possible that the computer just might reduce crashes and deaths on the highway.  The computers, after all, have three advantages over humans.

Computers are not distracted.  That little instant that a man takes his eyes off the road to look at that barely dressed woman will no longer be a problem.  That misbehaving child in the back seat will not keep you from seeing that car pull out in front of you.  Moreover, should you nod off from staring at that endless ribbon of highway, it’s no problem.  The robot has it all in control.

It takes us humans about 1/4 of a second to react to an emergency.  From the time we see some child dart out in front of us to the time we put our foot on the brake, it takes at least two tenths of a second.  On the other hand, the computer would apply the brake in millionths of a second.  Even at thirty miles an hour, a car can travel quite a distance in a quarter of a second.

It has often been asked, what if the computer fails.  What if a component goes bad.  Today’s computers are incredibly reliable and will likely become far more reliable in the future.  On the other hand, we humans can and do fail from time to time.  I have known of many accidents that were the result of someone pressing on the throttle instead of the brake.  Then too, there are a few of us that are old.  If a heart goes out while we are driving, it can cause people to die… besides the heart attack victim.  Besides, even young people can have heart attacks, or black out from other ailments.

In the long run, computers will be far more reliable, though I would still be hesitant to put my life in the hands of one.

However, until something is done with the legal aspects, autonomous cars will continue to be the exception rather than the rule.  It means that women will not be able to put their makeup on at seventy mph and men will have to ignore that good-looking woman walking by.  As usual, it will be the lawyers that will impede the progress.  Even when it makes the roads safer, the driver-less cars are going to have to wait.  There is no way that our legal system will be able to handle it.  Our courts will be so backed up that they won’t be able to deal with the less important things… such as rape, robbery and murder.

Besides the legal problems, there are the recalls.  One accident, and it would likely result in the recall of millions of autos.  Talk about a nightmare.

Then again, there is one thing that I am really looking forward to… keeping all those alcoholics from driving.  That in itself would save uncountable lives, pain and suffering.  The problem is, as long as lawyers make the laws, driver-less autos will remain quite rare.

How to Destroy a Nation

I am hardly the epitome of a great person.  I have made countless bad decisions, some, oddly, on purpose.  I thought that I could circumvent the consequences.

However, I’m hardly an ogre.  To the best of my knowledge, I murdered not one.  I try to be honest.  I try not to hurt people.  I neither drink nor smoke and never did.

Enough already.  It’s not my point to brag, but I’m sure you get my point.  The fact is, I do love this country.  I spent nine years in the Marines doing my little part to keep us free.  I even spent one year in Vietnam,  pretty much terrified.

However, if I decided I wanted to destroy this country, the first thing I would do is to destroy the family structure.  Well, I guess someone beat me to it.  The concept of one father, one mother and children is about gone.  Satan, through the communists Soviets, has been very busy.  Something tells me he does not like this country or what it stands for.

First, the idea of marriage has been completely redefined.  Second, children are being reprogrammed by the public education system.  They have forced God out of our schools so that they can put things into our children’s minds that are completely foreign to the principles that this country was founded on.

Third, they have made the state the main provider of sustenance, not the father.  Hence, there is no more need for the father to remain in the home.  He serves no purpose other than, possibly abusing the wife and children, which profits Satan and the communists.  After all, children are the future of any country.

The state has made marriage and divorce fast and easy, even to the point of the “No fault” divorces.  Believe it or not, there was a time when people actually had to present a valid reason to a judge in order to get a divorce.  Indeed there are some couples who get divorces for no other reason than for tax purposes.

Then, of course there are those who don’t even bother with the marriage at all.  Who wants to make a real commitment?   It is just paper, right?

…and so it is that the true concept of the family continues to fade off into obscurity.  Most assuredly,  if it is not soon reversed, our nation will follow.  I’m not a prophet.  It doesn’t take a prophet to see the future in this case.

Then, as Nikita  Khrushchev said, the Russians will just march in and take over without firing a shot.  However, they might have to hurry.  Mexico might beat them to it.

Then and Now

One day, many years ago as I was driving to work, I heard a man on the radio speak of something that caught my attention.  He said that TV’s used to get their signal through antennas and telephones required wires.  Now phones use antennas and TV’s use wires.

From the early days of my life, I remember almost every house had a TV antenna.  When I was six, I lived in an area that had just one station and it required a high antenna to pick up that station.  Some might not remember the days when almost all houses had the antennas and it almost looked like an artificial forest of metal trees.

Now they are gone, at least most of them.  It is rare to see one of them sticking up.  It makes it easy to see those who don’t have cable.

Normally, phones had a wire on them of about ten or twelve feet.  For those willing to pay for it, longer cables could be installed so that the girls could take the phone in another room for a little privacy.

Now, most use cell phones.  The antennas on them are so small we can’t see them.  However, we no longer have cables attached to them.  Privacy is simple.  The young ladies can go into their rooms or even outside.

The odd thing about it is that lately, people have started watching TV on their phones.  So, in a sense, it has gone full circle.  The TV is using an antenna again.

 

In my book, “Mitch,” I point out another switch up.  In the early nineteen hundreds, people used horses.  Only the rich had cars.  They were, so to speak toys too expensive for most.  Now, most of us have cars.  Most of us can’t afford horses.  Of course, if the tree huggers have their way, we will go back to riding horses and only the elite will ride around in self-powered vehicles.

I don’t think I want to be around in that day.  Cars might spew smog, but horse manure produces disease.  Try looking up the old days in New York before cars.  That stuff did not disappear on its own, you know.

There has been a big shift in commercials too.  In my youth, the media constantly discouraged gambling.  It was seedy and only bad people did it.  Well, I guess some good people gambled too, but not on TV.  Many programs showed the good guys shutting down the gambling outfits and, of course the schools were often leading the way.

Schools, of course, did what they could to discourage gambling.  Governments at every level depicted gambling as wrong.

I blinked my eyes.  Next thing I know, it turned completely around.  Whoa to the politician that suggest shutting down the gambling.  We can’t do that.  We need the money.  By the way, it fixed nothing.  We now have the gambling and we still don’t have enough money to run the governments at every level.  Actually, it is worse than before.

They are still calling for more money for the schools.  The gambling didn’t help one bit.  I have noticed the county south of where I live allowed gambling.  They are far worse off than before.  The state had to come in and take over the school.

On the other hand, the number of people writing hot checks has skyrocketed.  Though I can’t prove it, I am sure the robberies have gone up.

There is a reason that those in the old days drove out gambling.  It would appear we can’t learn from history.  It means we are doomed to repeat it.  The difference is that now, nothing less than a miracle will get rid of it.  Now our society is more dependent on it than a druggy on heroine.  Near as I can tell, we are stuck with it and it hasn’t solved a thing.

 

In the movies, they used to show people smoking.  It was encouraged by tobacco companies to get people to smoke.  It worked.  Then we had a couple of generations of people dying from lung cancer.

Recently, they decided that was a bad idea.  Now, there is a big campaign to stop smoking and it is no longer seen in recent films and TV shows.  To some degree, it has succeeded.  I’ve noticed the number of people smoking, even in the military has decreased.

I think it was a good idea.  My question is, what took so long for them to figure it out.

It does make me wonder what the liquor companies are paying Hollywood to show the drinking.  Actually, drinking causes more problems than smoking.  Basically the smoker is the only one who suffers.  The drunk causes problems with almost anyone he encounters.

I wonder how long it will take society to realize that.  I wonder just how long Hollywood will continue to portray drinking as cool…the thing to do.

One day I was taking a walk.  I saw a pickup with a sticker on the back window, “My granddaughter was killed by a drunk,” or something to that effect.  I talked to the owner of the truck.  The granddaughter was two.  The drunk had been arrested twice before for drunk driving.

Sorry.  I don’t see drinking as cool.  One thing I know that no one can dispute.  No one becomes a drunk without taking the first drink.  As a society, we should discourage that first drink.  Instead, it is encouraged on every side:  TV, parties, military (though it is openly admitted that it is a big problem) and peers.

 

I get it, really I do.  I know you have to have your alcohol.  You say you can give it up if you want to.  You just don’t want to.  I really understand.  You just don’t want to give it up.  Fine.  Just please, don’t encourage others to drink.  You just might save the life of a two year old, maybe yours.

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