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Dreadful News Regarding Self Driving Cars

The news regarding self driving cars is turning dreadful. Yes that is right. The technology is limited today, but in the future, it will most likely cause suffering, fear and/or unhappiness.

So, how could that be? Aren't we taught that technology represents progress? Well, in the case of self driving cars we may be looking at technology that could result in a massive regression. No, I am not talking about the bad movie, either. Before discussing the technology of Baidu (BIDU), Google (GOOGL), and Tesla (TSLA) at the end of this article, two developments must be considered.

Perhaps the two most troubling developments are being pressed by Google, Inc, and as we will see later, by Baidu:

1. Google has petitioned the NHTSA for the right to develop driverless cars that cannot be overridden by human judgement. The NHTSA has opened the door to that possibility. Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelly Blue Book has said in this Reuters article:

"NHTSA is prepared to name artificial intelligence as a viable alternative to human-controlled vehicles, it could substantially streamline the process of putting autonomous vehicles on the road,"

The NHTSA's letter says:

"NHTSA will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants,"

This means, of course, that vehicle occupants will not be considered drivers and will not be able to override the system. The Reuters article goes on to reveal an astounding insight:

Google told NHTSA that the real danger is having auto safety features that could tempt humans to try to take control.

This should tell you that Google seeks to develop cars that give drivers no power to brake or to control a steering wheel. In fact, those manual systems will not exist. This of course flies in the face of an action by the State of California, which has passed a law requiring all driverless cars to have steering wheels and the ability of real people to override the system.

Disclosure: I am not an investment counselor nor am I an attorney so my views are not to be considered investment advice.

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