Driverless Cars – People Less Positive Than You Might Assume

Ken Zino of on Driverless Cars - Americans Less Positive Than You Might Assume

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If you’re like most auto enthusiasts, likely you are comfortable with the progress of technology from manual chokes to feed-back carburetors to port and then direct fuel injection. Looked at through the windshield of a sports car, electronic shifting and brake by wire via computer controls are just part of the evolving automotive landscape. Driver assistance safety systems and autonomous vehicles are just the latest technical trends made possible by the relentless pace of Automobility funded by the huge transportation universe of designing, testing, manufacturing, marketing and globally selling ~90 million machines each year.

However, aggregated research from Pew* indicates that these technologies raise critical questions about work, the autonomy of human beings and the ethics of a universe dominated by the latter day avatars of Alan Turning’s machines, aka computers.

Pew puts it thus: “How will this impact people who drive for a living? Are Americans willing to give up control to a machine? And whose safety should be prioritized in a potential life-or-death situation?” Answers to these questions, among others, reveal that “ larger shares of U.S. adults think the widespread use of driverless passenger vehicles is a bad idea for society than think it is a good idea (44% vs. 26%).

“Additionally, 29% say they are not sure if this would be a good or bad idea for society. A majority of Americans are also wary about riding in an autonomous vehicle. Roughly six-in-ten adults (63%) say they would not want to ride in a driverless passenger vehicle if they had the opportunity, while a much smaller share (37%) say they would want to do this.”

Ugh. “Many Americans are not only reluctant to ride in driverless cars, but some are also concerned about sharing the road with one. In total, 45% of Americans say they would not feel comfortable sharing the road with driverless vehicles if use of them became widespread, including 18% who would not feel comfortable at all. Smaller shares indicate they would be extremely (7%) or very (14%) comfortable sharing the road with autonomous vehicles,” said Pew.

“Interest in riding in a driverless vehicle varies across demographic groups, with age being one of the most notable differences. Adults under the age of 50 are about twice as likely as those 50 and older to say they would ride in this type of car (47% vs. 25%),” said Pew.

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* Pew Research Surveys worked on/authored by Lee Rainie, Cary Funk, Monica Anderson and Alec Tyson:

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