Thanks to Alex Pareene, I have become aware of a major flashpoint that's driving the conversation and winning the morning in the hotly contested race to represent Pinellas County in the Florida State Senate, where incumbent Republican Jeff Brandes is currently running well ahead of his primary opponent Jim Frishe. That flashpoint? Driverless cars, careening around the streets of Florida, leaving fear and loathing in their wake. This just goes to show that it was possible to have substantive debates on the critical issues of the day before Paul Ryan got picked to be Romney's running mate.
The ad, furnished by the appropriately named "Committee to Protect Florida," depicts a wayward Prius, straight-up ghost-riding around the Florida suburbs, with out a hey-diddle-dee care in the world. An elderly woman provides the voiceover: "Technology is great. But driverless cars?" It is, indeed, an eternal question. And it raises more questions, like the "Will Driverless Cars REALLY Slow for Pedestrians?" The ad then answers this question, when the car in question runs a stop sign, nearly killing a sweet, walker-enabled lady.
Will the driverless cars know how to zipper merge onto on-ramps? Will they properly yield at four-way stops? When a cop stops the car and asks, "Son, do you know what I'm stopping you for?" will the car be able to offer up a spontaneous, hip-hop inflected colloquy on search-and-seizure rights? Probably not.
The ad, naturally, raises fears that are not justified by reality. As Travis Okulski points out at Jalopnik, the ad's contention that the cars are remote-controlled is "patently wrong." "These cars are not close to being remote controlled, which can be a positive or a negative depending on who you ask," Okulski writes, adding, "There's also a driver in the front seat to override when things go wrong."
The ad also cites a Forbes article as backing for its claim that these driverless cars are "more dangerous than driving." Forbes' Alex Knapp writes that this citation seems to refer back to this article by James Poulos. But as Knapp points out: "It's worth mentioning that Poulos isn't claiming, in this article, that driverless cars are unsafe. Rather, he's criticizing the suggestion that driverless cars be the only cars allowed on the road once they become viable. Which is nowhere near what Brandes has suggested."
Or has he? Can we really know for sure that Brandes' support for these driverless cars isn't just a Trojan Horse meant the stealthily advance the robot-Sharia agenda? (Yes, we totally can.)
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