OK, anyone that does what we do for a living has heard it, “What are you
going to do when they introduce self driving cars?”

Well, up to this point I’ve generally made some ridiculous comment about
retiring, but early last month – as I was taking a torturous rush hour ride from
LaGuardia to New York Law School to give a talk on blood testing – the answer
came to me; nothing; no changes; because self driving cars can never be allowed
to happen.

Now I know I’ve blogged on this before, but before stating my present
position, let me digress a bit to another futuristic dream. Many of you may not
know this, but long before the introduction of transatlantic Boeing 747 service in
the 1970′s, there was luxury service available between Chicago, New York City
and the capitals of Europe. Complete with signature china dining, grand pianos,
smoking lounges, baths and full sleeping berths, these luxurious behemoths
cruised effortlessly to London, Paris and Rome in record time. There was just one
problem. As horribly demonstrated in Lakehurst New Jersey on May 6th, 1937,
they blew up.

Against this rather grim backdrop, let’s talk about self driving cars and at
least four insurmountable problems that hopefully reality, plain common sense and
their ultimate rejection will prevent.

Returning to that dehumanizing cab ride from LaGuardia, imagine that
journey in a self driving car. Programed to “drive by the manual,” it will maintain
the appropriate spacing from vehicle to vehicle and will observe all reasonable
regulations as to merging and changing lanes. Further, it will definitely not
proceed when it senses that it is unsafe to do so. So far so good, however pack a
sleeping bag or make motel reservations because what would ordinarily be a onehour
drive across a congested fifteen miles will take days simply as a result of
adding the appropriate spacing and adherence to applicable safety requirements. I
don’t think I exaggerate reality when I say that an enormous amount of additional
space will have to be added to the airport to create a “staging area” in which
vehicles waiting hours, or perhaps days, to depart for the city may be safely held.
Now if that isn’t enough, add this. The conversion, particularly in urban areas,
will certainly not be immediate. This means that our newly minted self driving
cars will have to deal, and in every instance yield, to vehicles that most certainly
will not adhere to our genius’s pre-programed politeness.

Of course we do not all reside in urban areas, but here’s where the situation
truly turns catastrophic. Think for a moment about how the FBI broke the iPhone
code in San Bernardino. They hired a hacker; a garden variety paid professional
hacker. Now flip the page to the hacked DNC emails or the our intel’s Wikileaks
disclosures and you’ll see where I’m going. Whether you’ve given it any
consideration or not, our reliance upon technology is quickly rendering
conventional armies and every form of arms obsolete. With a few malevolent key
strokes, a hacker sitting comfortably in his or her study on the other side of the
world can now bring our power grid, our banking system and our means of
communication to a grinding halt. The sad fact is that the proliferation of self
driving cars will make his or her task all the easier. John Kennedy once lamented
that the advent of nuclear weapons gave mankind the power to destroy an
adversary in eighteen hours. With the onset of self driving cars, Kennedy’s time
frame is infinitely reduced. All a hacker has to do is to glitch the GPS navigation
system for a mere thirty seconds and we will see instantaneous death and
destruction from coast to coast. Nor will this be all. The damage to our
infrastructure as well as our financial institutions as they attempt to resolve this
man-made Armageddon will make 1933 look like a tea party.

Malevolence aside, there will always be systematic failures. I find it
strangely ironic how a society that steadfastly turns its back on nuclear power, due
to the regional devastation that could be caused by a technical anomaly, has
lovingly embraced self driving cars without any consideration of the large swath
of injury and death that will occur under identical circumstances.
As we plunge headlong into this unachievable high tech nightmare, let’s
also not loose sight of those who are actually driving this program. Some have
said that as technology advances it will have the capacity to supercede
government. Indeed, the 2016 election cycle demonstrated the possible
dispositive role that technology can play. Without question Google is perfectly
positioned to assume this “burden”. But there are other factors as well. Don’t kid
yourself, if this tribulation actually plays out, conventional automobiles will
ultimately be banned as “dangerous.” The complete and sudden obsolescence of
currently existing automobiles will be the savior of an industry that has been
struggling for decades.

Does our particular means of employment give us a financial interest in the
abandonment of this Orwellian vision? Most certainly it does, but at the same
time we have a much stronger interest in not creating yet another means of our
destruction so as to attempt to insure the survival of mankind, as imperfect as it
may be.