Category Archive 'Personal Freedom'

01 Jan 2018

Big Brother Is Coming For Your Car

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In National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke notes that driverless cars are right around the corner, and any day now the busybodies, the improvers, reformers, and holier-than-thous are going to begun to demand that we all turn in our driver’s licenses and car keys and use only safer, robotic self-driving cars controlled by a grand central intelligence, designed and supervised by scientific experts. If they succeed in getting their way, Americans are going to be a lot less free.

[E]veryone will suffer from the catastrophic loss of privacy. Any network of self-driving cars would, by definition, necessitate total and unceasing tracking of their occupants. I may know how to get to the local liquor store without a map, but my car most certainly does not. To make it there in a driverless model, I’d first have to tell it where I was going, and then it would have to ask the Internet, and the satellites, and, probably, my credit card. To the existing framework we would thus be adding a planet-wrapping exoskeleton with a perfect digital memory. The car, far from serving as a liberator, would become a telescreen on wheels — an FBI-approved bug, to be slipped beneath the chassis in plain sight of the surveilled. At a stroke, my autonomy would be gone. Without permission from the Web, I would be lost in space. A mere server glitch could render me immobile. The government, should it so choose, could stop me dead in my tracks. Yet again, I would be handing over my self-reliance to the government and to the corporations, and asking, plaintively, “Please sir, may I move?”

I refuse. …

he coming debate over driving is not really about driving at all, but about movement, autonomy, and reliance upon one’s self. Which is to say that the root question is whether free people are to be permitted to move themselves around without needing somebody else to agree to the transaction, or whether the government may interpose itself. This, naturally, is a perennial inquiry, not a contingent one. It would have been as pertinent in 1790 if there had been an anti-horse movement, and it will be necessary when the car has been replaced with the jetpack, or the rotocopter, or whatever is coming our way. May I move myself, or may I not?


24 Oct 2015

Self-Driving Cars Will Have Ethics Programmed In

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Self-driving cars! What could be better? Instead of hundreds of millions of individuals making individual decisions moment by moment, the experts managing the administrative state could decide what lane you’re in, how fast you travel, and –in extremis– whether you live or die. The fear is that unenlightened bitter clingers might object.

Technology Review:

Imagine that in the not-too-distant future, you own a self-driving car. One day, while you are driving along, an unfortunate set of events causes the car to head toward a crowd of 10 people crossing the road. It cannot stop in time but it can avoid killing 10 people by steering into a wall. However, this collision would kill you, the owner and occupant. What should it do?

One way to approach this kind of problem is to act in a way that minimizes the loss of life. By this way of thinking, killing one person is better than killing 10.

But that approach may have other consequences. If fewer people buy self-driving cars because they are programmed to sacrifice their owners, then more people are likely to die because ordinary cars are involved in so many more accidents. The result is a Catch-22 situation.

Read the whole thing.

28 Jan 2008

Hands Off My Lightbulbs and My Thermostat!

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It’s cold in Minnesota, and David Karki wishes Al Gore would just send some of that Global Warming his way, and leave his civil liberties alone.

Minus 17° F. That was the low temperature this mid-winter morning as I walked outside and coughed on the frigid arctic air that burned my windpipe as I attempted to inhale it, before starting my minivan’s engine so it could idle for 20 minutes and then be warm enough to drive.

Some think we Minnesotans are crazy to live in such conditions, but then every location has its risks – hurricanes in the southeast, summer heat in the desert southwest, and so on. Those of us endowed with a healthy sense of humility, logic and common sense understand that these extremes are perfectly normal; that they have been occurring off and on for many, many years; and that they are far beyond our puny ability to significantly affect.

Sadly, this grounded understanding has completely escaped one Al Gore and his radical environmentalist acolytes. Ol’ Al has jumped off the reality train and headed for parts unknown.

Never mind the crust of frost on my bedroom windows; Al says “the climate crisis is significantly worse.” You want to come up here without thermal underwear, a parka, gloves and a stocking cap and say that? …

And never mind the federal government banning incandescent light bulbs come 2012; Al says it’s not enough, and that we must change laws, “not just light bulbs.” Uh, first of all Al, the new ban is changing the law, you idiot! And more importantly, you and your wacko tree-hugging allies have no right whatsoever to stomp on personal liberties just to stroke your massive ego for having solved an entirely non-existent crisis.

That is really the point here. The tyrannical means being used to implement this lunatic environmentalist policy is so beyond anything we Americans should find tolerable, much less acceptable, that even if the ends were desirable we should not stand for it. What we are really talking about, when you take away the pseudo-benevolent green crapola behind which these psychos hide, is totalitarian control of every last detail of your life.

Read the whole rant.

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