Obama Muses About the Wonders of Tech in Op-Ed About Self-Driving Car

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

In an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, President Obama not only advocates for the self-driving car, but muses on the technological advancements of the past seven-and-a-half years. “Things are a little different today than when I first moved into the White House,” the president writes. “Back then, my watch told me the time. Today, it reminds me to exercise. In my first year, I couldn’t take pictures with my phone. Last year, I posted on Instagram from Alaska.”

Times really are a’changing. And luckily for the innovators in Silicon Valley, the president welcomes new technology. Obama writes,

Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year.

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But there’s a twist: government regulation. Obama likes that probably because he’s the president, which means he works for the government. Or maybe the government works for him? Makes you think.

Obama frames the government regulation as a way “to help the private sector get this technology right from the start.” According to Jalopnik, on Tuesday the federal government will release guidelines for self-driving cars, as well as a 15-point “safety assessment” that will decide whether the autonomous vehicle is safe for the public.

Ultimately, Obama concludes, “technology isn’t just about the latest gadget or app – it’s about making people’s lives better.”

Just don’t let this happen to you.

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via The Verge]

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Eve Peyser was the night editor at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

urambotauro
Urambo Tauro

I dunno. The outpouring of optimism towards driverless technology becomes less positive when you focus on it as the definitive answer to transportation safety. In fact, it looks less like hope, and more like giving up on human drivers.

Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year.

These numbers that Obama is quoting here are a direct reference to NHTSA’s recently-published Motor Vehicle Crashes Overview for 2015 and its earlier assessment of what’s causing all these crashes. If the government wanted to get to the root of the issue and address bad driving at its source, they would call for stricter training and licensing procedures, and launch more public service campaigns against poor driving.

Looking to autonomous cars to save us from ourselves might pay off someday. But there’s no need to wait. We already have everything we need right now to prevent more crashes; we as a society just need to make better choices on the road. It’s a team effort, but it’s well within our grasp.