26th August 2017. TRANSPORT
Last night I drove from Oxford (UK) to London Heathrow, Terminal 3; an hour's journey, to pick up my wife who flew in from France. Although I know the route well, news reports that Bank Holiday traffic jams were the worst ever prompted me to enter "Terminal 3" in my Sat-Nav; my wholly reliable and magical Miss Tom-Tom (who I have pledged to marry as she utterly understands me and never nags). There were no jams, the roads were clear and traffic free-flowing.
For "magical" read computerised satellite navigation, accurate to within a few yards or metres, even on some of the busiest, Greater London, maze like motorways on Earth. How, just how, does Miss Tom-Tom do it? She also predicts traffic jams ahead, and often re-routes a journey through forgotten back-roads to avoid them. She did this in Italy and France last year. This year she directed us through Welsh lanes, to hidden gems of beaches and hotels tucked away in Snowdonia. Magic!. And no more marital storms over interpreting paper-road-maps. Brilliant application of telecoms and computers.
Driving back to Oxford at 10.30 pm, on the four-lane M 40 motorway, at 70 mph, a score of very high powered motorbikes, headlamps ablaze, roared and screamed past all the traffic at, I estimated, an alarming 120 or 130 mph. Very exciting and highly unusual in these days of political correctness and congested roads. "Hells Angels", I thought - there will be a police pursuit and maybe a major pile up ahead. I checked the Tom-Tom screen for jams. Approaching High Wycombe, another batch of a dozen motor-bikes powered past us, doing only 100 mph. Before they could dash off and disappear into the west, a solo police motor-bike joined from a slip road and with blindingly bright flashing lights bravely weaved across the lanes and brought all traffic, including the dozen mad bikers, down to 40 mph; daring any vehicle to pass.
Hitting the news headlines that night were two transport reports: the first about the crazy idea of lorry "trains"; three or four 20 foot long 40 ton trucks linked only by radio, controlled by a single driver in the front truck. Having as a teenage cyclist been trapped between the kerb, a truck and its trailer and almost terminated, it seems the maddest of mad ideas to let these blind, brainless monsters loose. Licensed to Kill. The second report was another rah-rah item extolling the virtues of driverless-computer-cars (and buses, lorries and vans). This report concluded with the commentators now ubiquitous, totally confident, unconditional, unchallenged assertion that "computers are of course far safer drivers than humans".
What crap! What untested, unproven, unmitigated, unscientific lunacy. What a slur on the 31 million UK drivers and on all other road users; whose billions of journeys annually are completely safe 99.99% of the time. Accident Statistics of the past 50 years do not lie. But someone is lying now.
Who, I thought, mindful of the 130 mph lunatic bikers scorching along the road, is paying for this expensive, relentless brain-washing media campaign to persuade 31 million experienced drivers that they cannot drive without the aid of computer-software? How would a driverless car have reacted last night? Would it be pre-programmed to act sensibly and recognise a police bike from a Hells Angel bike? Would it as we did, quit the motorway and go home on the old roads?
The last such global PR lying campaign was about the joys of tax-evasion and capital-flight, now globally totalling more than $32 trillion, where all journalists were trained by a massive 20 year PR campaign to mouth the huge economy-wrecking lie after every and any mention of off-shore non-tax "which is, of course, all strictly legal". It wasn't and isn't legal - and many tax-evaders are now suffering the age old confiscation of assets and freedom; along with Al Capone who was jailed for false accounting not for assault, battery and murder.
This more recent campaign - to dis-empower travellers, who we are told, should not drive (or walk or cycle without computer control) must, I guess, be funded by the computer hardware and software industries. The rise of the driverless machines with so called "Artificial Intelligence" would, if unchecked, be the greatest marketing confidence-trick ever. Extrapolate 31 million UK drivers to the whole world. Calculate the value of the global vehicle fleet. Calculate the number of journeys per annum - globally. Subject them all to computer control and makers' specifications. The bean-counters in the software and hardware business have done the sums and they like what they see.
All they now have to do is persuade the mindless masses, and bribe the the motor-insurance industry and government officers, through mass media, that despite 150 years of direct experience to the contrary - and a few million years of human travel before that - they, we all, are incapable, or are less capable of driving a vehicle (all vehicles, even cycles will be controlled - and walkers will have to be disciplined) than a laptop computer. It is the biggest con-trick in history. The Great Deceiver (not Demented Donald in this instance) is seeking to undermine human skills and intelligence and replace us with robots programmed to do badly what we freely do very well, extremely well, for ourselves. Beware of the Rise of the Machines.
I leave you with these thoughts:
What are the true statistics of accidents to date involving driverless vehicles? 50% of journeys perhaps? The billions of human controlled journey's are reliably 99.99% safe. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Empty cars running about will increase congestion.
After 50 years of development with no expense spared, a British nuclear submarine test-fired a US/UK computer guided nuclear bomb rocket last June in the Atlantic. It veered off-course and landed in Florida. We hope President Trump ducked and wasn't harmed. How many hundreds of millions have been devoted to controls for that driverless vehicle?
Hackers hacked the last US election - getting into and disrupting hardware and software. What fun for hackers to wreak havoc with our traffic. How many times has your computer crashed or misbehaved?
A large solar flare could fry most wi-fi, laser, electric and radio receivers. How then will our cars behave? It might even injure my precious Miss Tom-Tom.