A nine-year-old’s view of the so-called ‘autonomous future’

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An “occupational hazard” of being the daughter of a guy who writes about trucking for a living is having an appreciation for the men and women behind the wheel, I suppose. Nonetheless, this past weekend, after coming across Wired’s latest dive into “self-driving trucks” — provocatively titled “Robot [sic] & Us: Self-Driving Trucks Are Coming to Save Lives and Kill Jobs” — I was a little surprised at my daughter’s reaction when I asked if she could imagine a big truck going down the road maneuvering with its own controls, with no person behind the wheel.

The look of horror that passed across her face was fairly priceless. She came squarely down on the side of Us, when I asked what she thought would be the safest either/or option out on the roads. And then she got a gander at just what her dad had been looking over on his computer — Wired’s story and its big ol’ headline.

“Whoever wrote that is pretty mad at truck drivers,” she said.

The conversation continued from there and went all over the place, but suffice it to say I was proud of the girl for her willingness to call it like she saw it.

The Wired story included the following video take on where the tech is today, featuring in addition to trucking Youtuber Allie Knight a variety of viewpoints on the subject of safety, the advancement of driver-assist technology (including a bit more on the Starsky Robotics remote-pilot company Jason Cannon wrote about here earlier this year) and the potential for autonomous techs to  displace drivers down the line. The vid was a little better reasoned than the post’s headline itself implied.

But don’t tell that to my daughter.

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