Morlocks Need Eloi

Automated braking, Lane Keep Assist, Park Assist, Back-Up Cameras, Traction Control, ABS… all this technology is, is idiot-proofing.

It operates at the level of an idiot, too.

A skilled/competent driver not only doesn’t need it, he can often outperform it.

Skill and competence, are, however, not what’s wanted. They are the opposite of what’s wanted.

What’s being engineered, arguably.

You get what you encourage. And less of what’s discouraged.

The automated braking systems soon to be mandated decelerate the car when it’s either not necessary or so prematurely it’s preposterous. Like there’s an old lady (or a Clover) underneath the dashboard somewhere.

Which of course there kinda is. Joan Claybrook’s ghost, perhaps? An eHarpy you can’t kick to the curb – or turn off.

It engages when the car up ahead (way up ahead) is turning off the road and will be long gone by the time you actually get there. The concept of covering the brake pedal is something a computer does not grok. You, a human (and not an idiot) can evaluate changing conditions in real time with more perspicacity than a computer, which is programmed with limited parameters and does not do nuance. It may becomenecessary to brake and you are prepared to if need be.

If not, you don’t.

But the computer will.

This is its own “safety” problem, interestingly enough. Abrupt braking when not necessary can trigger a chain reaction accident. The car behind you rear-ends you because your car braked suddenly and for no good reason. Another car passed within a few feet, say. Or, the light up ahead turned yellow but your car was already in the intersection.

You also lose the ability to power out of a potential problem – and avoid an accident – because the computer has cut the throttle. Which it will, when it applies the brakes for no good reason.

How pray, is this “safer”?

Sometimes, swerving – and flooring the gas pedal – rather than standing on the brakes – is just what the doctor ordered. But the presumption of incompetence denies this option. Acceleration – evil!

If not, you don’t.

But the computer will.

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