Surferbird News-links: Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Driving

Image courtesy of ArtsyBee at, CC0 Creative Commons,

Image courtesy of ArtsyBee at, CC0 Creative Commons,

Today's post is all about autonomous vehicles. Will humans drive cars in the future? And, if not, can we trust self-driving cars to make good decisions? Explore these questions and more in today's exceptional articles. Vroom, vroom! OK, I went a little too far on the silliness.

Let's go for a drive

Welcome to today's short edition of Surferbird News-links on autonomous vehicles and the future of driving. And just for the record, I'm not into cars at all. Yet, even I'm intrigued by self-driving cars and their capacity to disrupt the future of transportation. So, don't just sit there; hop on in. Let's get this show on the road! But I do have a favor to ask before we start: Would you mind driving—please?

Disclaimer: In addition to not being into cars, I don't like to drive them, either.

three intriguing articles on self-driving cars

ethics and self-driving cars, (

In this piece at Vox Media, David Roberts argues that, in theory, self-driving cars will make better decisions than humans because they possess the three most important traits required for ethical decision making: wisdom, perceptiveness and self-possession. He goes on to define these traits and how autonomous vehicles will acquire them. I know; it's a touchy subject. But self-driving cars will, no doubt, be part of our future. And according to what I've read, it's happening much faster than anyone could have imagined. I encourage you to keep an open mind and read this compelling essay. Who knows, it might help you feel less anxious about it all—or not. 

The way self-driving cars will be made more ethical, in practice, is the same way they’ll be made more safe, efficient, and effective: by improving their sensors, communications, and learning.
— David Roberts at Vox Media

the future of cars, (

Well, I hate to break it to you, but in 15 to 20 years, all cars on the road will be autonomous, according to Bob Lutz, former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors. And companies will purchase fleets of them. You can say goodbye to most car dealerships in addition to many car manufacturers, too, except the ones that adapt early. Lutz thinks that driving will be relegated to clubs and off-road settings. 

Is this true? I don't know, but it's worth a read because the world is changing fast. What's interesting, though, is that Lutz is a car enthusiast who loves to drive ( Hmm, that says a lot. I guess the devil will be in the details—and, hopefully, not in autonomous vehicles. (A big thank you to @drvox for sharing this on Twitter)

And they just arrived in Phoenix—self-driving cars, that is, (

So this is a beta test by Waymo, a company that used to be part of Google. And in the beginning, they'll limit testing their autonomous cars to the suburbs of Phoenix, later moving into the Phoenix metropolitan area. But what's most notable about Waymo, however, is that engineers designed these cars to be fully autonomous, prohibiting any human intervention, unlike Tesla and some of the other car companies. And Ford is following suit.

I wasn't joking about the world changing fast. After watching the moon landing on TV in 1969, I wondered if anything so extraordinary would ever happen again, at least in my lifetime. Combine self-driving cars with the latest information on global warming and you have—plenty of buzz. Until next time, drive safely!   Laura