“The safest way to travel” was how they sold the driverless revolution at first, and we loved it. “Car accidents are a thing of the past”. It was true, computers were much faster at making those important decisions about road safety. Cars automatically slammed their own brakes on if a pedestrian ran into the road. Something though that arrogant teenagers started to abuse, once they’d realised they be safe every time, sometimes causing traffic chaos.
But like all software, it can be overridden. Computers are fast decision-makers but are only following instructions. We called them “Cackers”, car-hackers, people who altered the in-built behaviours of their own vehicles. The manufacturers didn’t like it of course, and neither did the transport agency.
Cackers hacked their cars to break the automated speed limit, and a new sub-culture of boy-racers was born – something that we thought we’d never see again after the driverless revolution.
Then came the “ethical cackers” who’d hack your car for benefits like better fuel economy, a smoother ride, or a marginally shorter route – as long as you didn’t mind taking slightly sharper corners at speed. As this became more popular, car manufacturers started to build it in, allowing users to select their own “driving style” preference – and for the first time since the driverless revolution, people had individual control again. Well, not absolute control of course, but were asked what the car should do in certain situations.
These options was presented to the vehicle’s user (the term “driver” of course was a thing of the past) as a multiple choice of scenarios. Most importantly was “directive 112” which became infamous in the media as what divided people the most – what to do about arrogant teenagers walking out in front of the car. Should the car brake, potentially causing travel chaos?
How would you continue this story? What other modifications could be made to driverless cars?