Last year I wrote a column on the potential threats to liberty of the driverless car.
Let’s be fair: The experts aren’t always wrong, and even when they’re wrong, their arguments aren’t necessarily unreasonable given their assumptions. But if you follow the logic of mandatory seatbelts and motorcycle helmets, red-light cameras and anti-texting laws to their natural conclusion, it’s easy to imagine that some bureaucrats will want to co-author your car’s software.
And then what? Will you ever be allowed to go over the speed limit again? Police are already drooling to see our GPS data. Will that become automatic too? Will the cops have the power to tell your car to stop whether you want it to or not? Will authorities be able to tell your car to take a detour to alleviate traffic? Make it turn around when it gets too close to certain off-limit areas?
In the latest in a long line of deeply draconian legislation, the EU has called for all cars to be fitted with a device that will apply the brakes if the driver drifts over their nation’s respective speed limit.
Under the new proposals, all new cars would have a built-in camera that would monitor limits displayed on road signs and a satellite link that would gather data. This information would then trigger an automatic application of the brake if the vehicle is driving too fast. Thus no car in the United Kingdom would be able to drive faster than the British motorway speed limit of 70mph.
Moreover, vehicles that are already on the road may be forced to return to a garage to be fitted with this Orwellian gizmo.