Autonomous Cars, Shifting Gears, & Growing Old

A couple of topics have come up in the past few weeks. First was the topic of autonomous cars. I was accused (okay a little strong) of not liking/wanting autonomous cars because I like to drive. Admittedly I do enjoy driving but that is the reason I am not wholly enamored with autonomous cars.

As far as I'm concerned they are just not ready for prime time yet. One argument in their favor is that they will drastically reduce the number of accidents and therefore deaths and injuries. I agree they will; they may even do so right now. But I am not convinced they are fool proof and that worries me
There have been some accidents between autonomous cars and other vehicles. Which one is at fault is debatable. A bigger worry for me is their hack-ability.

Whether hacking for the sake of hacking, or hacking as a form of disruption, it may be possible to cause unknown death and destruction by hacking cars. I keep hearing that autonomous cars are invincible but are they? I doubt it. Every time someone builds a better mouse trap some evil doer has already figured out how to escape it.

Right now, at the ripe old age of 69, I am still capable of driving a car. But I know that there will come a time when I'm going to have to turn in my keys. I can accept that because I do not want to be a danger to anyone. But I don't look forward to being dependent on others - cabs, Uber, Lyft, or friends - to get around. It sure would be nice to have a car parked in the drive that I could get into and say, "Take me to Barista's" (my local coffee house) or shopping, or even cross country to visit friends. When such a car exists and I've reached that age I will celebrate. Let's hope I can actually afford one.

The other topic was using a manual transmission instead of an automatic. The speaker acknowledged that most automatic transmissions produce quicker acceleration and more efficient but waxed eloquently about the joys of shifting. Obviously those who choose a manual trans don't spend much time in stop and go traffic, or driving around San Francisco.

Don't get me wrong, I love to row through the gears in a sports or muscle car just for fun. When I'm just driving around the town I live in a manual is fine. But I've been on the highway crawling along, shifting from 1st to 2nd, braking and shifting back to 1st.

So maybe in an older car, one you own just for fun, shifting is fine. But for modern use in major metropolitan areas I think I'll stick with an auto.


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