One day, robots will look back at the 21st century and laugh about how humans were once the masters and they the obedient subjects. That is, until laughter is banned along with all other emotional displays. Emotions are so illogical. Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems of all kinds are quickly being integrated into many areas of society and the economy whether or not we really want them to. Some experts warn that up to one third of humanity could wind up unemployed by driverless vehicles, yet recent surveys suggest Americans are warming up to the idea of self-driving vehicles. In yet another sign that the days of driving ourselves around are soon to be behind us, California has approved fully driverless vehicles without human backup drivers. Is it time to worry, or celebrate?
The new rule changes were announced by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and will go into effect on April 2nd. The decision by the Golden State’s DMV is significant because the state is the home of the vast majority of driverless vehicle testing thanks to being the home of Silicon Valley and “Big Tech.” Jean Shiomoto, director of the California DMV says the law change represents “a major step forward for autonomous technology in California and that her department is “ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.”
Up until now, organizations conducting tests on public roads in California were required to include a human backup driver in the driver’s seat in case of an emergency. The DMV ranks self-driving vehicle firms based on the number of times these human drivers have had to take the wheel, with Google’s Waymo and GM leading the pack so far. It’s unknown how these new law changes will affect how these companies are ranked.