One of the current technological innovations which will have the greatest social impact is the introduction of driverless cars. Change will occur in stages.
The first driverless cars will be more aware of their immediate environment than a human driver can be; they have better speed and accuracy of information flow, will respond more rapidly and appropriately to problems, and therefore will be safer. The former driver will be freed to work, socialize or play a game. The car will confer status.
As more cars become driverless, they will be able to travel closer together and more rapidly. Road construction will slow dramatically, as the carrying capacity of existing roads doubles within a few years. Politicians will have to turn to other easy areas of corruption in order to finance their election campaigns.
When an entire city can be made driverless, traffic lights and traffic circles can be done away with urban travel times will be halved. Driverless vehicles will be able to cross intersections in all directions simultaneously:
And driver-cars will be banished to more primitive environments. Will this cause a change in driving habits, after exposure to the apparent anarchy of the driverless intersection?
After all, there are already plenty of countries in the world where lane markers are ignored, where people walk in the road because cars park on the sidewalk, where pedestrians always have to look both ways before crossing “one-way” streets. In such places it’s not uncommon to see a driver start the wrong way down a one-way street, change his mind and back out into a busy intersection… so he can go the wrong way down a different one-way street instead.
There are many advantages to driverless cars.