Regardless, everyone will suffer from the catastrophic loss of privacy. Any network of self-driving cars would, by definition, necessitate total and unceasing tracking of their occupants. I may know how to get to the local liquor store without a map, but my car most certainly does not. To make it there in a driverless model, I’d first have to tell it where I was going, and then it would have to ask the Internet, and the satellites, and, probably, my credit card. To the existing framework we would thus be adding a planet-wrapping exoskeleton with a perfect digital memory. The car, far from serving as a liberator, would become a telescreen on wheels — an FBI-approved bug, to be slipped beneath the chassis in plain sight of the surveilled. At a stroke, my autonomy would be gone. Without permission from the Web, I would be lost in space. A mere server glitch could render me immobile. The government, should it so choose, could stop me dead in my tracks. Yet again, I would be handing over my self-reliance to the government and to the corporations, and asking, plaintively, “Please sir, may I move?”
I refuse. The poet Richard Brautigan longed for “a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors and joined back to nature, returned to our mammal brothers and sisters, and all watched over by machines of loving grace.” I refuse to be so co-opted, or to be forced under the peering eyes of a machine, however “loving” or “graceful” its acolytes might believe it to be. Indeed, I do more than refuse: I propose a legal prophylactic against this nightmare, to be adopted now, before it can come to fruition. As soon as possible, it must be illegal for the state to take steps in this direction. We must amend the Constitution to ensure as much.