Item 1: It is now revealed that the train in the recent deadly derailing in Philadelphia was rolling along at twice the speed limit for that stretch of track.
Item 2: A sales exec is suing her former employer after being fired for uninstalling a GPS tracking app from her phone that allowed the company to track the movements of its sales force, 24×7, including after work hours … including how fast they drive.
Item 3: During Google’s recent on-road test of its self-driving robot cars, all of the wrecks that occurred were caused by humans driving the other cars on the road.
My readers are smart, and I’m sure you’ve already made a connections here.
Connection 1: If this woman’s creepy bosses can track her driving speed, and Google’s cars can drive safely on open roads, why can’t Amtrak do these things on the rails? Well, they do. Only, they didn’t:
Despite pressure from Congress and safety regulators, Amtrak had not installed along that section of track Positive Train Control, a technology that uses GPS, wireless radio and computers to prevent trains from going over the speed limit. Most of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is equipped with Positive Train Control.
Connection 2: If what’s wrong with the tracking devices in this woman’s phone is the creepy over-reach of the humans involved, wouldn’t this have been fixed by a little tech tweak that automatically turned off the tracker when she was off the clock? And, wouldn’t Google’s cars be much safer if all of the cars on the road were self-driving? And, wouldn’t all of those Amtrak passengers still be alive if a human hadn’t had control of the train? In other words, if we replace the humans with AI?
Perhaps the rise of the machines isn’t something to be feared, but something to be welcomed.