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The end of an era - the beginning of self-driving cars in Phoenix, Arizona


The old-timers must have hated self-driving cars in Phoenix, which were called "auto-mobiles" (auto meaning self). And whatever they imagined, it couldn't be as terrible as what actually happened in the next few decades.

Before the invention of "auto-mobiles", there was a horse in front of a vehicle, keeping an eye on things. After that, the horse was gone, and whatever "horse sense" had been there before vanished. And if the old-timers could have seen what happened, all they would have said is "I told you so".

Within decades the number of people killed and maimed in "horseless carriages" had risen dramatically. Efforts were made to stem this, but eventually, in the 20th Century, Phoenix had gotten used to the carnage. And it was true all over the country, where deaths were just listed as part of "the toll".

In the 1960s, nylon belts were introduced to try to stem the loss of human life, and not long after that cars were equipped with safety glass, and even inflating "air bags" to reduce the amount of injury to people. And somehow people had come to accept that the simple process of being on the road meant a fairly high chance of death, or terrible injury. Automobiles were so dangerous that even a moment's hesitation, looking away from the road for just a few seconds, to look at a cell phone, could spell disaster, and death. And the human predication to consuming alcoholic beverages made it even deadlier.

As the 21st Century unfolds, the era of "self-driving cars" has begun again. But this time computers are doing the driving, not humans. And old-timers are worried again. But history has shown that horse sense isn't something that people have. And hopefully the destruction will come to an end.

Image at the top of this post: Horseless carriages (on the left) in 1904, 1st Avenue and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

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