My concerns with self-driving cars

Self-driving cars seem to be inevitable nowadays. It is predicted (by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) that by the year 2040 three-quarters of the cars on the road will be self-driving. However, there are some concerns I have with them. This post will address them.

Safety

It is not a realistically major concern. I am sure that before they are widely used the major safety concerns will be resolved. However, there might be real problems within the first few years of their main release. You can never be totally safe in any vehicle.

Privacy

I am certain that when self-driving cars "hit the market" they will likely add tracking features to them to collect data. The reason that they will collect this information is to improve on your car. Kind of like how Windows 10 sends a lot of information about you and how you use Windows to Microsoft. It may be useful for the company, but they collect way too much with little option for consent. Windows, Android, and iOS all send lots of information back to Microsoft, Google, and Apple. I have little respect for any of those companies, and would not trust them with my driving information. Here is some of the information I presume they would collect:

  • General status of the car (miles per gallon, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)
  • Driving speeds
  • Where you go
  • A lot of other information the car collects from normal use
It has been said that one hour of running a self-driving car could product several gigabytes of data, and I am sure much of that will go back to the parent company.

But this is only a small problem compared to the one below.

Non-Free Software

I am sure that most of these cars will have proprietary non-free software built into them, and they will likely go through huge measures to keep you from installing free and open source software onto it. This can have huge impacts, but it mostly comes down to one thing. You won't have control over the car, the software company will. This is similar to how Fire OS, iOS, macOS, and Windows are set up. If you use those, you don't actually own the device, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft do. 
Privacy problems are directly caused by this.

For the most part, we have control over our cars now. We can work with the engine, replace parts, and more on our own.  More and more cars are being built that are have more digital aspects to them. Which is fine, digitalizing things can make them more efficient, but when the software than runs them is non-free software that is restricted with DRM, then it becomes fully the manufacturer's vehicle, and no one wants someone else to control their car.

The same problem applies to a lot of software that exists now. Including Windows, iOS, and many other programs that dominate the computer industry. It removes freedom from the user. That is a bad thing. It is their computer, let them do what they want with it, it is their phone, let them do what they want with it. It is their car. Let them do what they want with it.

Conclusion

Self-driving cars are inevitable, but there are some serious concerns that may never be solved. As big technology companies seep themselves more and more into our personal lives, we are being left as their discretion.

Google has been wrapping you around their services. Your searches, your email, your browsing history, and possibly soon your driving. They are leading in development of self-driving cars (via Waymo), and they are already practically everywhere in technology.

Apple will be a better option that Google for this (because they have better privacy practices), but they are likely to be even more restrictive than Google (think Android vs iOS). Apple has always been a jail for its users, trying to smash the competition by making them not an option if you use other Apple services. Google has always been the company that does not care about user privacy, since it makes most of its money from advertising based on your preferences.

The problems will likely apply to most self-driving cars, and already apply to many cars now. I will not use a self-driving car until these issues are resolved. I will make my own self-driving car if I have to. These companies do not care about the people using the products, they spy on and restrict them simply for profit. 

That is my explanation about my concerns with self-driving cars.

Comments

  1. Cool! I don't think I've ever seen a self-driving car, so maybe you could add a picture of one?

    ReplyDelete

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