Just in case you were wondering, the title is satire. But that to which this satire is aimed is surprisingly not. So turn on all the lights and pull the covers up over your head, Mommy will be there soon. Maybe. If you ate your peas at dinner last night. Otherwise, you are on your own. Sorry.
The American Automobile Association published an article on March 14, 2019 that I just had to take time out of my busy day of fiddling and searching for cars to tell you about it. It is entitled “Three In Four Americans Remain Afraid Of Fully Self-Driving Vehicles”, with the subtitle: “AAA believes testing, experience and education will aid consumer acceptance.” Link HERE
In full disclosure I was a member of AAA for many years, the last 10 of which was nothing but trouble for both me and my family. They’d charge me two or three times a year in several different states, I’d spent hours on the phone and in their offices trying to get it squared away on multiple occasions in multiple years until I realized I didn’t need them. For anything.
But honestly, no hard feelings, their roadside assistance was pretty good, and I used them on a few occasions for emergency battery replacement. But I have other services that overlap and none of them have I had trouble with. Other than that, I have to say that I really like maps and everything, but they are not worth the membership to me any more. The 5% discount at Cracker Barrel, Motel 6 and other establishments wasn’t really worth it either.
>So what in this article about American fraidy cats do I find ridiculous? Well what I take exception to is how the discussion is framed. This is why my dander is up; and darnit there are flakes all over my chair and desk now. This article is going to drive me (in my own car piloted by me, thank you) to buy a bottle of Head and Shoulders. Now look what I’ve done, that tasted terrible. Why would anyone drink that stuff? OK I’m going to need to take a break to wash that taste out of my mouth and jump in a cold bath to calm down my inner Italian…and my outer Italian.
>Alright I’m back and cold, and my sense of taste is returning but I’m still flaking. At least I can coherently rant now. Before my little break, I had mentioned something about how the discussion is being framed.
>So let’s take the title and subtitle apart a bit. First the title:
First of all the claim is that 3 in 4 of Americans… Wait is that math? So, let me see here, 3 in 4…so after counting on my shriveled fingers and blue toes (thanks to the cool down bath I just took), that would mean that 75% of the American People were…something. But it says here in the article that the poll actually showed 71% of people had the sense to respond in “fear”. It would be nearly as accurate (within 0.4%) to say that 2 in 3 responded the same way, which is 66.6%. So the 3 in 4 claim is a bit disingenuous. After all, when you actually look at the fact sheet, a downloadable .pdf on the linked page, it says 7 out of 10.
“Seven in ten (71 percent) U.S. drivers would be afraid…”
So as I’ve mentioned, the author states in the title that 3 in 4 Americans remain AFRAID of fully self-driving vehicles. I suppose since it is self-driving, it could attack you in your sleep, or start up in your garage to try to asphyxiate you with carbon monoxide. Heck it could even pin you against a wall and shake you down for your lunch money. Apparently there’s a lot to fear. “Lookout! Don’t look at it askance, it’s self driving and it’s having a bad day!”
Let’s look at the Fact Sheet statement again: “Seven in ten (71 percent) U.S. drivers would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, similar to levels of fear in April 2018 following high profile incidents involving fatalities.”
So after the confusing math part, it says that U.S. Drivers would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle. They aren’t afraid of these vehicles congregating the a local parking lot and plotting their world takeover. But you know, 3 in 4 Americans remain afraid of fully self-driving cars.
Wait, remain? Oh yeah, that bit about 2018 incidents involving 4 fatalities. “A year after a number of high-profile automated vehicle incidents, American attitudes toward fully self-driving cars have not rebounded.” Perhaps rebounded would not be the best choice of words to use in this context, but that’s just me.
So really, people aren’t afraid of fully self-driving cars, they’re are afraid of dying while traveling in one. You see language matters, and what is inferred in the title is that people are just afraid of these things because they are just unjustifiably and nebulously fearful of this technology.
“Well, gee this is 2019! it’s not 2018 anymore, yet people remain afraid. It’s been a whole year since disaster struck…uh…at least 4 times.”
Look, I’m all for progress and advancing technology. But let’s face it, there’s a difference between changing from a landline to a smartphone, and completely relinquishing control of a car to a transportation appliance which is entirely responsible for keeping you and your passengers alive based on some centralized algorithm.
Assuming both the hardware and software components of these disparate systems actually function properly and in relationship to one another, the complex variables involved in deploying this technology raise moral issues about who lives or dies in a myriad of scenarios. Who decides that?
It ain’t you.
So am I and the 71% of the 1,008 people polled remaining afraid of riding in fully autonomous vehicles? Or how about having to drive your own car in their proximity? Or how about pushing your infant’s stroller in front of one in operation? Is it fear? Or is it common sense that makes us want to take a step back and let the coffee percolate a little longer before we pour a cup?
I say we retitle AAA’s article: “71% of American People Remain Wisely Cautious Of The Potentially Tragic Pitfalls Of A Woefully Underdeveloped Non-standardized Technology They Are Being Unwillingly Confronted With” That’s better.
Finally, let’s just briefly look at the subtitle: “AAA believes testing, experience and education will aid consumer acceptance.”
Jacster believes that testing, experience and education will aid consumers in accepting poo for breakfast.
“Look, Poo! Oh, you don’t like poo? Here, have some poo. No? Well, then for those 71% of people afraid of poo we have just the re-education program for you.” At least, that’s the way it is being presented.
An article posted HERE on Gallup’s site likewise indicates that in their polling the vast majority of people aren’t all too interested in entrusting their lives to autonomous vehicles. A technology I might add, in its cycle of development similar to where an Atari was for video games. The author states: “Automakers will have to convince the public that not only is self-driving technology safe, but that the safety, environmental and other benefits it offers outweigh the pleasure people get from driving.”
Or how about automakers change the breakfast menu?
Mommy, make it stop.
Three In Four Americans Afraid Of Own Shadow, Keep Calling Mommy To Make It Stop.