I read this article on Google's self-driving cars. This quote stood out to me as an amusingly American response to drunk driving:
When asked if the more technophobic mainstream would easily adopt the novel technology, [Eric] Schmidt responded, “Depends on how drunk they are.” Schmidt brought up the sad statistic of 35k people killed each year in drunk driving accidents in the United States, and the even sadder fact that that is considered a good statistic because it’s remained constant over two to three decades.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Schmidt said, “The sooner we can get cars to drive for us the more lives we can save … self-driving cars should become the predominant mode of transportation in our lifetime.”
Yeah, we wouldn't want to, like, invest in affordable, ubiquitous public transportation or anything like every other modernized country! Anyway, there will always be people traveling in small groups, and most accidents are probably caused by preventable human error (whether inebriated or not), so this is still a pretty good argument.
But the safety consideration got me thinking: how long until, say, the TSA decides they should be in charge of monitoring these cars to make sure the self-driving ability isn't abused? They've already been spreading to buses. Transportation Security Administration: it's such a nice, broad name for a federal agency — why let that go to waste? When will we see the first instance of a car being seized to dump records of where it has driven? (I'm no expert on the case law, but from my understanding, sometimes this is an easy thing to legally/warrentlessly(?) do, since vehicle location information is just showing where a person has been in public, where they had no reasonable expectation of privacy.) Or easier, cloud navigation providers, cell network operators, etc., will probably be subpoenaed and/or "requested" to turn over the information without consumers even knowing.
How long until not having a smart car, or electing to drive one "manually", is considered suspicious behavior, as if the person is trying to circumvent limits built into the self-driving software, or leave less records about where they've been? When will the NSA start gobbling up all the navigation data en masse to compile profiles of peoples' behavior and build social networks by finding overlaps between different peoples' locations?
The cars will likely have Bluetooth and similar technologies for tethering mobile devices. Records created in this manner can be used to know more about who was in the car at what times. When will biometric authentication hardware be required installed in the cars, making it even easier to tie people to locations?