Pointing at the Downsides of Technology

I know someone who has received a donated organ. In fact, that person I know that received a donated organ received that organ from a person who died in a car accident.

I’m glad they are alive. In a sense I am glad that other person died, but not in any direct way.

We don’t hunt for people to donate kidneys and kill them to ensure the survival of others.

This article in Popular Mechanics bemoans the oncoming autonomous vehicle technology for the fact that it will reduce the number of traffic fatalities Рpotentially by half (or more) and that this source of 20% of organs for transplant will be vastly reduced.

This is similar to moaning about loss of jobs in the garment industry because of advances in automation. The jobs that are going to be removed are the worst jobs out there – and the people working them are working in the most horrible conditions. The fact that automation is going to remove these jobs from existence is not something to lament.

Instead of keeping pace with current demand for donor organs the focus should be on new paths to organ function replacement. There are lots of great articles about the potential of using stem cells to promote healthy organ function. Lots of articles about using stem cells or other cells to 3D print functioning organs.

Luddite attitudes are creeping in to bastions of science – such as Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and Scientific American. It seems odd that they are focusing on the very aspects of social and technology that will greatly improve human life.

Sadly, if autonomous cars reduce fatalities earlier than prime time for alternate organ replacement technologies – people will die. It will be fewer people; however, than the number of people killed every year in automobile accidents.

The Future of Everything

I am not an incredible prognosticator, but there are some simple conclusions that can be drawn from technologies being requested for prime time today. In terms of “The Future of Everything” – I mean the future of things.

Recently, the Department of Transportation in the USA is proposing a rule where vehicles and signs be able to transmit and receive messages from each other. This would give vehicles equipped with such technology a sixth sense.

As a motorcyclist I remember reading an article about several of the magazines writers riding out together equipped with communication devices. The lead biker was able to communicate road conditions to the rest of the bikers and prepared for what was ahead the rest of the bikers were able to travel faster than normal.

This is also a kind of sixth sense. (I know it is a misnomer).

It might take decades before all vehicles are equipped with this V2V technology, but as it progresses I think it will aid in the reduction of vehicle caused fatalities. This might combine in some ways with features of autonomous cars. I suspect there will be reductions in car insurance for people that get cars equipped with V2V as it becomes ubiquitous.

There are some potential problems with equipment like this – especially as it begins to be ubiquitous. While the article indicates that it will not track identities it relies on trust between the consumer, the businesses making the technology and the government – that this is a fact.

The same problem with EZ pass and never giving speeding tickets based on EZ pass information. Promises are made by governments and they test the waters by contravening those agreements to see if there is a public outcry. This is bad news.

Agreements between the people, businesses and government cannot be constantly tested if there is going to be trust between the groups.