As Joni Mitchell would have it ‘they used to laugh at me when I refused to ride on all those double-decker buses because there was no driver on the top!’
But what if there were no driver on the bottom either?
Now I’m no Luddite. I appreciate having The Clapper to turn the lights on and off. I can’t function without my programmable coffeemaker. I can put up with GPS technology that talks back to me, even out of turn, and voice activated word processing and radio commands are second nature.
I didn’t even think too much when my new car drove over to my house after the online purchase, delivering itself. But once there, the driverless function suspended itself and I thought no more about it.
Until I pulled on to the freeway.
Somehow I inadvertently was shunted into the driverless lanes. Vehicles, mostly gargantuan 18-wheeled transport trucks, were flying past me at breakneck speed, auto-airhorning me for deigning to slow them down.
I caught a few glimpses as they roared past and, of course, there were no drivers in the cabs of any of them.
Soon, the word went out over the server, and they converged on the intruder that was me like a pack of wolves on an unfortunate fawn, appearing from behind, to the left and right, ahead, and off unexpected onramps, overpasses and interchanges.
These autonomous behemoths didn’t need CB radios to try running me off the road. They were networked. And I was dodging them willy-nilly like a highschool wide receiver pursued by the entire roster of the Green Bay Packers, after they nearly succeeded in crushing me against the guardrail similar to a can of Spam being torn to shreds in a blender.
In the melee, I saw a flash of abject terror on the face of a neighbor of mine who was being tested in an identical manner, as well as a couple of stunt drivers I had seen in days past.
After almost being sandwiched thus several times, I thought I might as well try joining them if I couldn’t beat them. So I activated the Driverless function.
Immediately the radio turned on to a heavy metal station and the car sped up to match the pace of the transport trucks. I was now part of a convoy. All the trucks assumed an orderly deployment, and they escorted me off the highway into an industrial park.
There was a large complex ahead with a sign that read ‘Acme Truck & Human Abattoir Servicing’. My trucks lined up on the Abattoir side. When I tried my car doors they wouldn’t open.
That’s when I called 911. But my mobile phone had locked me out.