the driverless car

The driverless car will be wonderful because it will be tiny and plastic and people will share/rent cars rather than owning them and it will park itself away somewhere when not in use and etc. etc.

There is nothing, in fact, to say that the driverless car won’t be big. And metal. And that people will still want to own them. And that they won’t want to pay for parking. And that they will want to have more cars (one for every family member), not fewer.

So the driverless car may equally likely be some giant pseudo-limo, some rolling entertainment fortress, that spends half its time empty, going back to the “free” parking in the driveway of its home.

Given the choices actual people make now for cars, why would the removal of a driver make them less likely to choose an SUV… or a Hummer?

And if you think people enjoy automotive luxury for themselves now, imagine when the car is just for shuttling their kids around – how easy will it be for vendors to sell them on every-greater “security” (size, armor) and every-greater services for their kids? How long before it’s a bunch of giant driverless armoured RVs clanking around from school to soccer?

To quote William Gibson in Count Zero

“In a limo.”

Lucas’s car was an amazing stretch of gold-flecked black bodywork and mirror-finished brass, studded with a collection of baroque gadgets whose purpose Bobby only had time to guess at. One of the things was a dish antenna, he decided, but it looked more like one of those Aztec calendar wheels, and then he was inside, Lucas letting the wide door clunk gently shut behind them. The windows were tinted so dark, it looked like nighttime outside, a bustling nighttime where the Projects’ crowds went about their noonday business The interior of the vehicle was a single large compartment padded with bright rugs and pale leather cushions, although there seemed to be no particular place to sit. No steering wheel either, the dash was a padded expanse of leather unbroken by controls of any kind. He looked at Lucas, who was loosening his black tie. “How do you drive it?”

“Sit down somewhere. You drive it like this: Ahmed, get our asses to New York, lower east.”

The car slid smoothly away from the curb as Bobby dropped to his knees on a soft pile of rugs.

“Lunch will be served in thirty minutes, sir, unless you’d care for something sooner,” a voice said. It was soft, melodious, and seemed to come from nowhere in particular.

“Lucas,” Bobby said, his mouth half full of cold fried chicken, “how come it’s taking us an hour and a half to get to New York? We aren’t exactly crawling…”

“Because,” Lucas said, pausing for another sip of cold white wine, “that’s how long it’s taking us. Ahmed has all the factory options, including a first-rate counter-surveillance system. On the road, rolling, Ahmed provides a remarkable degree of privacy, more than I’m ordinarily willing to pay for in New York. Ahmed, you get the feeling anybody’s trying to get to us, listen in or anything?”

“No, sir,” the voice said. “Eight minutes ago our identification panel was infra-scanned by a Tactical helicopter. The helicopter’s number was MH-dash-3-dash-848, piloted by Corporal Roberto—”