When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Meth & 18-wheelers

brewer-meth-driverThis glowering clown motored into a conga line of halted cars at a construction zone in Tennessee. He came out fine, because he was higher than the International Space Station, flying on 40 hours straight of amphetamine-fueled sleeplessness, and wearing 40 tons of 18-wheeler. The poor squishy folks in the little crunchy cars underneath were not as fortunate.

He’s now held on half a million bail, and it turns out that the guy’s been caught using consistently for over two years, and was still out on the streets. Make that “highways,” literally.

A motor vehicle crash that killed six people on a Tennessee highway last year likely happened because a truck driver who failed to slow down in a construction zone was probably fatigued and had taken methamphetamine, federal investigators said Tuesday.

In its release of the probable cause findings for the June 2015 crash, the National Transportation Safety Board also cited a failure in the employee screening process to determine that driver Benjamin Brewer of London, Kentucky, had been fired from a previous trucking job two years earlier because of illegal drug use. A hair test administered under an unrelated court order less than three months before the crash had also turned out positive for meth.

The board also found that the Brewer had likely gone without sustained rest for 40 hours before the crash.

“The driver in this crash should not have been behind the wheel of a large truck,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “As long as human beings drive trucks, they must be rested and unimpaired.”

Investigators said Brewer did not slow down from a speed of about 80 mph despite ample warnings that he was approaching a construction zone with a 55-mph limit on Interstate 75 near Chattanooga. There was no indication of heavy braking or that he tried to take evasive action before causing the crash, which involved seven vehicles occupied by 18 people.

via Tired truck driver high on meth caused car crash that killed six – NY Daily News.

Of course, the formality of a trial is still ahead of us, but this case makes us reconsider all the Westerns where the mob broke down the Sheriff’s door to lynch some malefactor. Were the courts really the good guys in those shows, when courts like them keep returning these monsters to the street until they finally ring the mass killing bell?

27 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Meth & 18-wheelers

  1. Loren

    He did a monstrous thing but probably not monster. Most likely a hard working idiot doing the only thing he knew how to do, drive a lot to pay for the drugs so he could drive a lot. Like I said, idiot.
    Knew a guy in Perth who would drive a rig across the Nullabor to Melbourne nonstop, the turn around and drive back. Sleep 3 days and do it again. Never heard if he killed anyone or himself. On uppers the whole way and then downers. Great life.

    1. John D

      Not a monster?

      How about then, a filthy low-life piece of sxxt, how took 6 innocent lives, impacting countless others.

      Got away with it countless times previously due to incompetence, corruption, and knows what else.

      Nice fat bastard he is for a meth head.

      Bet he’s got a nice set of teeth it would be fun to knock out as well.

      Hard working bloke my ass.

      Great life?

      Quick death for innocents.

      Thanks to a monster.

  2. gebrauchshund

    Was reviewing the candidates for local DA last night, and every one had something in their list of priorities about “alternate” prosecution and sentencing programs, particularly for drug offenders. Apparently that’s what it takes to get elected, or at least the candidates think so, whether they think such programs actually work or not. Lots of people seem to have great difficulty with the concept of a line connecting two dots.

  3. Aesop

    Remember this example the next time you think darting right in front of a semi with trailer in tow is a prudent act.

    Something like 25% of inspected haulers fail routine roadside brake checks per CHP; the stats on how many fail routine drug testing don’t exist, thanks to the ACLU.

    1. John Distai

      Pull a loaded trailer with your own vehicle and you learn “maybe I should give those trucks more room”. Lessons in mass and stopping distance.

  4. Josey Wales

    The issue with DOT mandated drug testing (unless things have changed, which I doubt) is that it’s a urinalysis. There’s a whole industry built up around it, and it’s non-invasive, meaning you don’t need medical personal to administer it. The problem being it doesn’t measure in the present tense. Same thing for hair. For drugs other than alcohol, at the current state of testing technology only a blood test measures what you have “right now”. Yes it would cost more money, but now that we have urinalysis tests sets that are readable on the spot by laymen, I can see it being a useful tool for an immediate follow up blood test in case of a positive whiz quiz. I get it, “drug use bad”, but if I was deciding on potential charges I’d want to know if the guy was driving on meth or if the positive was the result of a joint he smoked while he was home on a 3 day layover 2 weeks earlier, or if he smoked earlier that day. Don’t get me wrong, any positive is going to cost you your job, but if it’s shown you were driving under the influence, then you can be served an extra helping of “no joy”.

    1. bloke_from_ohio

      Something tells me this guy had a blood test run. You don’t smash into stuff going 80 MPH and not go to the hospital to get checked out.

      I know for a fact cops in Ohio can take blood if you wreck your car. The county cops had the hospital take both urine and blood samples as a matter of formality when I totaled a car in college. All I had in my system at the time was soda and day old donuts. Well, that and the kind of youthful stupid that tells an 18 year old that driving faster than is prudent in the early morning fog is a good idea.

  5. Brad

    Stuff like this incident will accelerate the adaption of robotic trucks. It must be an interesting time to work in the automotive insurance business.

    1. Aesop

      Hopefully not.
      Even though computers will never malfunction.

      HAL 9000 says “Hello, Dave.”

      And programmers and engineers will set things up perfectly.
      Like with Air France 447.

      This wasn’t a technological problem, and it likely won’t be solved by a technological solution, unless there’s one that obviates the utilitarian and economical need for large trucks to exist in shipping goods.
      In the meantime, for the douchebag responsible, there should be six consecutive terms to serve before he’s eligible for parole (18-90 years as voluntary manslaughter). Hopefully sentenced towards the heavy end of that. Especially as he’s not a senator from MA.

      And bonus, another reason for drug decriminalization/legalization, right tweakers?

      1. bloke_from_ohio

        The B2 crash at Guam a few years back is a similar scenario where the computer made things worse. After a level take off, the computer was convinced the plane was pitching right so it corrected by pitching left (or vice versa). The pilots tried to make it stop that silliness, but lost. Two billion down the tube in the blink of an eye.

        The ejection seats worked though!

      2. Brad

        It’s not a question of “computers will never malfunction”. It’s a question of which malfunctions less and which costs less, human drivers or robots.

        When the robots cost less and cause fewer accidents than humans, the invisible hand of capitalism will replace those human truck drivers with robots. And that is something to hope for, not against.

        As for drug decriminalization, when is the last time you had a drink? Or are you also in favor of bringing back Alcohol Prohibition to go with your support for the War On Drugs?

        1. John M.

          +2 for both robot overlord comments and alcohol/drug prohibition comparison.

          SkyNet need not be bug-free, it need only be less buggy than the software that runs between the ears of the millions of us who take to the roads daily.

          Although the very visible hand of lawyers and our tort system may delay driverless vehicles beyond where the invisible hand of the market would’ve introduced them. Google and Mercedes have way deeper pockets than José the landscaper and Jim the Taco Bell worker.

          -John M.

          1. Bloke_from_ohio

            The following web comic comes to mind with that argument. https://xkcd.com/1720/

            I am okay with robot cars and trucks provided they are equipped with an override and the ability to operate them sans robotic control.

          2. John M.


            Family lore holds that my great-grandfather, already quite aged at the time of the automobile’s introduction, made his first and last motorcar pilot through the back apple orchard, dodging trees and shouting “Whoa! Whoa!”

            I’m confident that companies manufacturing hooch will see their sales improve markedly as we transition to driverless cars.

            -John M.

        2. Aesop


          1) When a driver malfunctions, the driver is at fault.
          When a computer malfunctions, the corporations are at fault: the one who used it, the one who installed it, and the one that designed and manufactured it.
          Without a handy drunk/meth-head to assume primary blame, the tort law field beckons to suck an entire industry under if live drivers are replaced by robotic ones.
          The trial lawyers of America salivate at the very prospect. For that reason alone, it’s a wonder they aren’t even now underwriting the campaign to bring them on, for the same reasons dentists should own stock in candy companies, and orthopedic surgeons should sell motorcycles and rent out bouncy houses.
          2) How’s the push for robots working out vs. live airplane pilots?
          3) How many people fly, vs. how many people share the road with 16-wheelers?
          4) How many semis crashing into a schoolbus full of kids will it take, do you suppose, before the hue and cry would go up to ban robotic vehicles everywhere and in perpetuity? I think the over/under could be measured in minutes.
          cf. the nixed plan to use drones for package delivery as a guide to how this will play out.
          The invisible hand of capitalism will brush robots right off the playing field.
          (We won’t even get into the booming industry that would arise in cutting off semis in stop-and-squat ripoff scams in mere seconds, or the follow-up, which would be setting the subsequent wreck on fire to destroy any exculpatory video evidence, and the commensurate cost run-up to develop a scam-proof vehicle built like a tank, and able to stop on a dime. The imaginary cost savings vs. live drivers would vaporize before this got off the drawing boards.)
          They’d have far better luck with robotic locomotives or cargo container vessels. (But oil tankers or cruise ships, not so much.)
          As a kindness, we’ll refrain from telling you your chances of getting robotic truck drivers past the Teamsters (“That’s a nice trucking company you’ve got; it would be a shame if it burned down – with your entire family chained inside…”); but feel free to ask around discreetly, if you’re feeling immortal. Do please let us know what you find out. Don’t mention Jimmy Hoffa. But as observed sagely by no less an authority than Joe Pantoliano playing Guido the Killer Pimp: “In a sluggish economy, never, ever f*** with another man’s livelihood.

          As for drug decriminalization, my last drink was never; never acquired the habit.
          Neither does that make me any fan of prohibition, from back in the day, nor ever.
          Nor do I support a War on Drugs. Drugs, like guns, just lie there minding their own business.
          I would, however, be positively ecstatic for execution as the sole penalty for any injury to another arising from the misuse of drugs or alcohol. Zero recidivism, and Darwinism while you wait.
          For non-injury misuse that becomes a public nuisance, a simple draconian penalty, equal to treble the actual societal costs should suffice. For general consumption, the average current cost of an ER visit for intoxication or OD starts at around $3K, and goes upwards from there, depending on how strenuously we have to work to keep you from dying. Not counting the bill for the ambulance ride and such, usually another $500-1500. Fair is fair, since we already bill the careless for the cost of forest fires. Don’t do the crime if you don’t have the dime. Or, in this case, $10-12K.
          Tell me where that solution offends justice or liberty.

          And as a natural consequence, when someone unhelpfully dies in the act, and some company is thus left holding the bag for civil and criminal penalties, drug and alcohol testing would become a mandatory condition of clocking in daily, everywhere, at all times, and anyone who drank or did drugs would rapidly have the entire panoply of jobs in either the custodial janitorial sector, or livestock maintenance fields, to chose from in perpetuity henceforth. Rather curiously, exactly like where the famous Prodigal Son ended up, and for just about exactly the same reasons. Funny how that works.

          Then, knowing that such a simple solution has less chance than a snowball’s in hell of ever coming to pass, take another think about why I think legalizing that $#!^ is beyond asinine and retarded.

          Trying to use the equally asinine government version of the War On Drugs (or Prohibition) as a strawman for why the idea is bad, is intellectually and morally lazy.
          Murder has been around since Cain, and yet no one (save for the ACLU) goes around carping about decriminalizing it, despite the law’s blatant inability to wreak perfection since before the Hammurabic Code.

          Your ball.

  6. Alien

    This is the serial corruption that has We, The Enraged in such an uproar. Many of the necessary details are missing, but it appears that multiple courts and multiple employers had multiple opportunities to get this guy off the road.

    None of which would have prevented him from becoming an unlicensed independent trucker or working for a less reputable outfit, at the same level of sleep deprivation and chemical ingestion. Probably the only fix would have involved concrete, steel bars and locks. During which period he would attend “rehab” and been pronounced “good to go” by a publicly paid psychiatric enthusiast with little or no risk in the game. The only change to the event’s outcome would have been one of when it occured. I’m hard pressed to come up with a sequence that would have unerringly produced a positive outcome.

    On computerized trucking, I suspect the final answer will involve a blend of human and digital tools, and that quite a bit of blood will be shed following other alternatives for a while. In this instance, for example, a progressively implemented collision avoidance system might have prevented 6 deaths; first, notify the driver with alarms, then reduce throttle to slow, then apply brakes. GPS-linked traffic conditions for aditional driver information might also have helped, assuming: 1) the traffic conditions (a construction zone) were accurately added to GPS-available data in a timely manner, and; 2) the driver was alert enough to make use of that information. (This may be where intersection of computer control and external data input may be a good value-add, assuming there’s sufficient security to prevent a hacker in Bejing, Moscow or Miami from routing the truck through a coffee shop at 80 mph.)

  7. Mike_C

    >> prevent a hacker in Bejing, Moscow or Miami from routing the truck through a coffee shop at 80 mph
    Heck, what about remotely hijacking a truck not for the mayhem value, but for the stuff in it. Another semi full of cigarettes/liquor/Nikes/big-screen TVs* went missing again? Damnit! And just wait till the technology comes to (is mandated for) passenger vehicles along with mandatory passenger safeguards**. Wouldn’t be hard to figure out that Hot Blonde Girl owns a Honda Fitta, serial number ###. Surely no person would be so unscrupulous as to lock her inside her car and divert her vehicle for unsavory purposes. Why, people simply don’t do things like that!

    * why consumer crap such as cigarettes or overpriced shoes? The actually valuable stuff would be better tracked, and or guarded.
    ** mandatory passenger safeguards. We would not want people to, say, drive unawares onto a damaged bridge span, or into a terrible crash on the freeway. Thus traffic authority would have the right to automatically re-route vehicles for individual and public safety. Nor would we want someone inadvertently getting out of their car a block away from a riot, er spontaneous peaceful demonstration against oppression; nor let someone get out of their car in, say a nature preserve after hours, since they have no business being there in the first place.

    1. John M.

      I recall rumors that the high price of lumber was resulting in people hijacking logging trucks on remote northern New England roads about 20 years ago. I have no idea if this actually happened or not.

      -John M.

  8. Keith

    The main problem I see with any computerized system in reality is all the older cars on the road. I drive a 2009 model and need to go to at least 2019 or longer. So how exactly on my armed security officer income am I supposed to afford to put some kind of computer traffic control in my vehicle? Are the interstates going to become the preserve of the rich who can afford that while the working poor like me are limited to two lane roads? This will be a project as expensive and long lasting as the original interstate system was. And the social division inherent in it will be huge.

    I hope the victims families win big in negligence suits against the trucking company. If they had provable knowledge of his prior drug issues that would be a big issue.

    1. John M.

      Do you remember back in the ’90s, when the New York Times was all worried about The Digital Divide between the Internet/computer Haves and the Internet/computer Have Nots? When the world was going to be bifurcated between a small elite who could afford $2000 PCs and a $22/month dial-up bill (ON TOP of their existing $22/month phone bill), and those huddled masses who would be stuck getting their newspaper once a day and visiting the library?

      Have you noticed that homeless people have smartphones now?

      Expect this same thing to happen with driverless/assisted driving technology. Now it’s pretty much available in six-figure Teslas. Tomorrow it’ll be normal on luxury vehicles. In 15 years, you’ll get it on a Hyundai (or whatever passes for a Hyundai after all this tech completely disrupts the auto industry). In 30 years, the only cars that won’t have driverless tech will be official “classic” cars.

      I’d expect certain roadways to be closed to human drivers sometime after the tech is normal on Hyundais. And shoot, .gov subsidized the cost of switching to digital TV, since TV is pretty much a human right in this country, so I’d expect a subsidy for those poor souls who bought the last batch of robot-free cars. Cash For Clunkers Part II, maybe?

      Moore’s law and the economics of software development make it such that at the limit, all of this stuff becomes essentially free.

      -John M.

      1. Aesop

        Have you noticed that homeless people have smartphones now?
        Have you noticed that the net result is that almost no one reads anything anymore, least of all newspapers (for a host of reasons), and most folks are straining to be able to concentrate on reading anything longer than 140 letters? Or even comprehending anything half that long?
        And do we have less homeless as a result, or more?
        Which way is the societal trendline headed?

        I’d expect certain roadways to be closed to human drivers sometime after the tech is normal on Hyundais.
        How does that work at train crossings, or when one of those homeless persons texting on their smartphone wanders in front of a commuter train, on a track closed to human drivers? Say, at rush hour?

        And shoot, .gov subsidized the cost of switching to digital TV,
        I’m was unaware that government was ever handing out digital TVs. Please enlighten me.
        And say, what’s the national debt up to as of yesterday? Just curious.
        Anyways, the last I looked, my government was far more about making carless drivers than it was about making driverless cars, but maybe you live somewhere else far, far away.

        Moore’s law and the economics of software development make it such that at the limit, all of this stuff becomes essentially free.
        I’ve read Adam Smith. So while I’m sure you think that, I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.
        How are all those disrupted ex-newspaper workers and disrupted automakers going to afford those smartphones and driverless cars, on a paycheck of $0/yr?
        Will the government start handing out driverless cars?
        Will the people that make them take fiat money worth nothing but the cost of ink and paper in trade for them?
        At what point do the costs of raw materials, labor, manufacturing investment, etc., reach a car being “essentially free”?
        If this is actually possible in the real world, why didn’t Ford and General Motors switch to that level of production already? For that matter, why isn’t China or India building “essentially free” driverless cars already?

        If 1 man can build a house in 12 days, then 12 men can build a house in 1 day. Therefore, 288 men can build a house in an hour, and 17,280 men can build a house in 1 minute, and 1,036,800 men can build a house in one second. It’s simple mathematics. But no one has yet figured out what happens when they all have to go to the bathroom on the same job site.

        A utopia powered by perpetual motion machines, driven by teams of unicorns, pooping Skittles and farting strawberry-scented welfare checks is a standard feature in most plans drawn up by the government. But it always turns out looking like the post office, Amtrak, the DMV, the VA, the IRS, and the TSA.

        Suffice it to say I am far less sanguine about the prospects of any of what you’ve postulated.
        But it’s fun to dream.

        1. John M.

          I’m not currently making arguments about whether smartphones are good for people, homeless or otherwise. But the technology came into existence about 10 years ago and is, today, essentially free. I can find three used iPhone’s on San Diego’s Craigslist for $35-60 without hardly trying.

          I’m not sure how to solve the driverless car/train crossing problem, but I’m confident that it’s a pretty small one in the scheme of making cars driverless. Grade crossings usually have gigantic swing-arms and flashing lights when trains come by. The ones that don’t tend to have good visibility of the tracks, whereby the tracks can be observed for trains.

          As for driverless cars dealing with pedestrians, that’s a good question. Driverless technology may make pedestrians much more bold since they know the robot would stop for them, instead of wondering if the person is busy with their coffee/cigarette/newspaper (1996), changing a CD (2006) or texting (2016). Redirecting traffic enforcement toward jaywalking enforcement is one possible way to mitigate this. There are probably better ways.

          Here is a summary of .gov’s coupon program for digital TV converter boxes: https://infogalactic.com/info/Digital_television_transition_in_the_United_States#Coupon_program. And we’re also talking about the .gov that thought Cash for Clunkers was a good idea. Whether the switch to driverless cars will all be fiscally sound or not is an open question.

          “I’ve read Adam Smith. So while I’m sure you think that, I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.”

          Again, I’m not addressing the goodness or badness of the disruptive effect of new technology. I’m merely stating that it exists. People will lose jobs, just as newspapermen and mainframe manufacturers have lost jobs before them.

          And to be clear, I’m not saying that the car itself will be “essentially free” (though I can understand why you think that’s what I meant). I am saying that the cost of the driverless tech will be essentially free, given the cost of the car. Of course the car will still cost a significant amount in terms of raw materials and labor. But the additional cost for the sensors, the chips and the software will cost very, very little.

          The reason this hasn’t happened yet is because commodity computers aren’t powerful enough to run the software yet, and the software hasn’t been written yet, or not enough of it has. Here’s how this works. The power of new computer chips essentially doubles every 18 months. The flip side to that is that the computing power you could have purchased 18 months ago for x now costs you x*.5. So you can buy more powerful computers this year, or you can buy last year’s computer for less. So first your home PC had more computing power than Apollo 11. Now your automobile has more computing power than Apollo 11. (This is probably already true, given that you drive a relatively modern car.) Moore’s Law is additive, like compounding interest at the bank. Computers can do qualitatively different things than they could 25 years ago. Some of those qualitative things are now essentially free. (I can find 8-bit microprocessors on eBay for < $10.) Moore's law is, of course, an observation, not a law of nature, and it has been slowing lately. But the baseline from which it's been slowing is really, really fast processors relative to what was available 40 years ago.

          So that's the hardware side. On the software side, the economics are a race to the bottom. The first player in a marketplace (e.g. "my software will drive your car for you!") commands enormous margins as early adopters–almost definitionally price-insensitive–rush the marketplace. Then a couple of other software developers, drawn to the high margins, enter the marketplace, bringing margins down for everyone. Then, since the marginal costs for distributing one additional unit of software are even closer to $0 than for hardware, someone just starts giving the software away. That someone may be a dedicated hobbyist (Linux) or a for-profit software company that went bust (Mozilla). But regardless, free software is almost inevitable in a large market.

          So asking why driverless tech isn't "essentially free" today if it's possible at all is like asking why Thomas Jefferson couldn't build a STEN gun in his barn the way you can. You're sitting on top of a massive pile of advances in tools, metallurgy, raw materials and chemistry and he wasn't. Likewise, the people of 20 years from now will be sitting on top of a pile of cheaper microprocessors and already-written software that we're not.

          Driverless car tech is pretty far along in the baking process. Google has clocked many, many driverless miles. Lots of electronic gizmos that are today essentially free (digital watches, DVD players, smartphones) were once at this phase, and using past performance as an indicator of future performance, one day driverless tech will cost you essentially $0 over the cost of the car you buy.

          -John M.

          1. Aesop

            I grasp Moore’s Law.
            Now do some business math.
            Adjusted for inflation, describe the prices of cars since Henry Ford to present, in constant dollars. Or anything else. When computing power drops, they add more features, to push the price right back to the same or higher levels. They do not sell old tech new at dirt-cheap prices. Otherwise we’d all be driving Model As for $100@.

            And look around, and tell me whether government is trying to make cars safer, or more unaffordable. (Or both, with B as a wholly intended consequence of A).

            If there’s any push for robotic cars from TPTB, it will take essentially the same tack as requiring handguns to be ballistically fingerprinted prior to purchase, and possessed of bio-ID to pre-authorize allowed persons only to discharge them:
            a requirement for vaporware – at exorbitant prices – solely as a backdoor means of legal prohibition. Because, after all, if you needed to go somewhere, wouldn’t the government have built you handy trains to get there, on most days except Sunday, or 27 government employee holidays, vaguely on time (island time) and in the height of luxury (compared to the Moscow Subway circa 1946)?

            Similarly, the government push for digital TV was explainable simply because the feds saw a way to jam more stations into the same bandwidth, when they themselves derive revenue streams from licensure of the users of same. Whether the broadcast quality was materially better was entirely irrelevant to government’s efforts.
            (cf. Obamacare).

            While some people are in love with tech for tech’s sake, a number of us know from firsthand experience that the future we actually get resembles The Jetsons, to the point that it was nearly documentary. Computers, made and programmed by fallible humans, are essentially a way to magnify not only utility, but also both criminality and screw-ups by orders of magnitude over the days when you had to f*** up something by hand, personally.

            In that light, I commend to you The Axemaker’s Gift, by James Burke.

            I’m no luddite, but if robotic trucks are such a great idea, let’s give them to the Russians and Chinese first, and let them beta-test them for us for a century or so. For the same reason the best thing to do for one of your golfing partners when he starts to improve, is to buy him a book on proper golf technique.

          2. John M.


            Interesting comment. The car business had nothing to do with Moore’s Law until semiconductors started appearing in them in the ’80s. But I’d have to look closer than I have the resources to see to look at the effect of features and prices.

            It’s possible that the monopolistic nature of the car business (relative to the tech industry) allows the car companies to continue to command decent margins on tech features even though the semiconductors are cheap and the software is written.

            After all, it’s not like you can just download a different self-driving program for your car.

            As for China, I have a hunch that the Chinese are going to go ahead and figure most of this out. While American lawyers are all twisting the screws on various companies, the Chinese government will just go ahead and mandate it and work through the consequences along the way. After China reaps incredible benefits from decreased infrastructure spending and increased efficiency/productivity, eventually we’ll have to switch over. If our unions force .gov or companies to mandate “drivers” to supervise cargo trucks, then so be it.

            The bottom line is that human beings are awful drivers. We are well within striking distance of robots being able to do it better than us.

            -John M.

          3. Aesop

            The bottom line is that human beings are awful drivers. We are well within striking distance of robots being able to do it better than us.

            Compared to what?
            When a wholly computer-driven vehicle wins the Baja 500, I’ll sit up and take notice.
            Humans drove cars around the world in 1909, when cars has wooden wheels.
            Computers, at that point, were called pencils & paper, or an abacus for the eastern hemisphere.

            We may yet have something that relegates driving to a repetitive function that a labor-saving device can assume for us, like toasting bread or washing dishes. But notably, the lives of one’s children – and thus the future of humanity – don’t hang on the precision of those examples, unlike driving a few hundred million vehicles daily, forever.
            This is why cars are not microwave ovens. Technology run amok and killing us was a sci-fi plot long before Terminator, or Westworld, or likely even before Frankenstein. (I defer to the literature majors in the crowd for its genesis as a theme.) This is why the Titanic, Hindenburg, and Chernobyl live on in worldwide human memory out of all proportion to their actual relative impact. (Nota bene this artifact of human psychology is what helped drive the first AWB to passage in the 1990s, and gun control generally in multiple other countries.)

            I have seen no reason in my years not to cling to the truism that if something has tires, treads, or tits, it’s eventually going to go sideways and cost you dearly. Adding a computer to any of those merely adds a second catastrophic failure point, IMHnon-engineeringO.

            Personally I suspect we’ll see widespread robot-directed vehicles about the time you see computer-logic operated personal sidearms, and I thank a benevolent deity (or the uncaring mechanism of a random universe) that I probably won’t live to see either in my lifetime.

          4. John M.


            I guess we’ll wait and see, then. I’ll point out that airplane autopilots can already land in conditions that humans can’t, and do so regularly. Having landed a few light aircraft myself, it’s a task comparable in complexity to driving a car.

            -John M.

Comments are closed.