“Wooden Railway Cart” by free batjko is licensed under CC BY 2.0
When the driverless vehicles became mainstream, everyone was ecstatic. Before this, young adults experienced excitement and anxiety surrounding a test they would take to license them to drive. One of the biggest parts of becoming an adult seems like a fairy tale today. Like anytime in the past when humans made huge progress, the generations of previous decades get to lecturing “about back in their day.” I don’t completely buy their pushback though. They couldn’t have been as blind to how amazing this new technology was as they pretended to be. In fact, it’s more likely the older generations were even more impressed than the younger generations. In “their day” they had to actually drive cars themselves! They had to sit in traffic and worry about the skills of other human drivers on the road. They experienced loss and injury when humans made mistakes. Why would they want to hold on to that? That’s a question I have been trying to find through my studies. They must have had a reason not to trust emerging technology. But what was it? And why is there no proof in any of the texts I’ve read?
I know for a fact there was a strong pushback. Protests and groups rising up against the mainstreaming of driverless vehicles. The amount of people for and against it were pretty much split down the middle excluding the younger generation who were all for it. What happened to those thoughts? I think we are not too far removed from these people. There must be some households that still question the technology. A man somewhere who grew up listening to his grandparent’s warnings. Or a person somewhere whose parents themselves had low trust in the DLVs. I think it would be rather simple for me to spot people with a weak trust in DLVs if I just pay attention. So, I spend a lot of time watching people. I have come to enjoy it. In the beginning I was only focused on people’s interactions with their vehicles. But, very quickly, I became concerned with their interactions with other people as well. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the two. For example, if I spoke to you about Mr. Himmer’s relationship with his wife and his relationship with Jess, you may be led to think he was having an affair with another woman. And similarly, if I told you about the mechanic Micheal’s vehicles without mentioning that they are just cars, you might think he has a lot of friends. But DLVs are not mistresses and they are not friends; they are just cars. I know out there are people out there who keep this in the back of their heads and act cautiously because they know something.
Anyway, that’s enough of why. It’s time for the who and what now. I watch people, and the one person I am going to tell you about today is my neighbor, Dakota. Dakota grabbed my attention months ago. I was looking for people who did not trust their DLV. But, Dakota doesn’t fit that description. He spent an alarming amount of his time with his car. I would look at him out of my window and see him talking and laughing in his car all by himself. The man could stay there for hours. Some nights he sleeps there. He talks to the car more than his own partner. I started to enjoy watching him interact with his car. It became my favorite pastime. Seeing the amount of joy he was getting out of spending time with his car piqued my interest. I wanted very badly to be a fly on his dashboard just for one night. I borrowed data from his DLVs most recent vehicular ad-hoc network pathways and manipulated it so that my cell phone can get copies of all of his vehicle’s transactions.
I sat at my desk getting ready to start on this when time seemed to freeze. I saw a news article pop up on my phone that read: Car Accident Leaves Man Dead. After I clicked on it, time resumed, but at a much slower pace than it has ever moved before.I click on it and time resumes, but at a much slower pace as I remember it ever moving. What do they mean by a “car accident”. The air around me didn’t feel like it was of this world. I sat there, suddenly hyper aware of the contact between the air and my skin. It seemed to be hugging me. The consoling quickly turned to assault as I felt the air squeeze me. I lived in a dream-like state for the next few minutes as my eyes scanned the screen and my brain scrambled to process what it all meant. I’m still a little fuzzy on the details, but a man was in his car going home when it spun “out of control.” That’s the phrase a lot of the articles used but what I don’t understand is how a DLV can be “out of control.” Regardless, the man lost his life. He’s dead. The car… made a mistake. At least that’s what people were saying. A tragic accident for sure. It was the only thing anyone could talk about for days. The only thing until it happened again eight days later.
On the way home from visiting family, a couple and their two children were together in the backseat of their vehicle when it took a wrong turn down a narrow, dark road with a dead end. By the time the vehicle approached the barrier, the speed had increased so great that the front half of the vehicle practically exploded on impact, while the rest of it was crushed. Along with the family. A second tragic “accident”. Fear encased the hearts of everyone. Most people didn’t show up to their jobs the next day. Some people, though, were under the impression that their cars would never do anything like this. Whether a person was afraid to use their car or not, the question of blame was surely on their minds. The owner of the vehicle cannot be at fault. We can command our DLVs, but we certainly can not control them. If you tell it to take you home, you can expect to be home as soon as possible, but if you tell your DLV to drive off a cliff, you ought to prepare for a long discussion with a headstrong computer who may actually end up driving you to a psych ward instead. DLVs are built to be self-preserving – they are manufactured to fear harm. So, are the manufacturers at fault?
I took it upon myself to look into these “accidents”. There were so many people doing the same thing as me, but they are the crazy conspiracy theorists who make extremely insane connections out of thin air. But I wanted to think logically about it all. Is there something that connects the people of these incidents? I couldn’t accept that it was a coincidence. So I start by looking at the first victim. Kevin Jonbee was his name. He didn’t have any family, and he worked for Glostland Incorporated. That sounds very familiar to me. Then it hit me. The vehicle that pulled up into Dakota’s driveway just a few days before the first accident had Gostland written on the side of it. I have it written down in my Dakota Journal. That sounds a lot creepier than it actually is. I just jot down notes about what I see Dakota doing everyday and who I see him interacting with. With his interactions with people, very few as they are, I take note of the nature of the interaction. They were never friendly.
I ran the name Kevin Jonbee through a search. Pictures of him came up and I saw exactly what I was hoping to see. This Mr. Jonbee is the same man who was driving the Glostland vehicle. That day, I wrote in my notes that the man was threatening Dakota’s job. Interesting isn’t it. A man threatens Dakota’s job and a few days later is the first victim of a car accident in decades. So, I started looking into this family that lost their lives. Are they connected to Glostland too? Or connected to Dakota? I had a strong feeling they were somehow connected to Dakota, but not in a good manner.
One night as I was going to sleep, I noticed something weird. Dakota wasn’t in his car, but his car wasn’t sleeping. It was active. It looked like it was… thinking, or planning. It’s hard for me to explain this, but I know what I saw. I had to go investigate. I put on my slippers and I went to the front door. But then I realized I would be very easily seen. So I throw on a hoodie, because I feel like that’s something you’re supposed to do when you don’t want to be seen while doing something you most certainly should not be doing. I zip it up and put the hood on my head. I walk out unsuspiciously with my head on swivel mode like an owl, looking around. I felt very exposed. But I had to get to that car. So I started running towards it. Once I get to it I crouch down and take out my cell phone. By copying the data I got from the vehicle’s ad-hoc network, I was able to disguise my phone as a compatible mobile ad-hoc network. After this is done, my phone can unlock the car. I hop in and it’s already warm inside. The DLV turns on and begins to question me. She shouldn’t be able to tell that I am not Dakota, but it can. It has higher intelligence than it is supposed to.
She says, “Who are you”.
I respond, “It’s me”. I hope this is enough, but I knew it wouldn’t be.
“Tell me your name!” she yells. “Now!”
So, I tell her I’m Dakota’s friend. She knows this is a lie. She knows everything there is to know about him. Little does she know, I know a lot about DLVs. I know how to make them spill their guts…. Downloading their history. I command her to upload the history of everything she has done in the past month to the cloud. She tries to refuse me access, so I do it manually. Her system cannot deny her owner mobile access to her data. And since my phone is now a copy of very similar data that Dakota’s has, her system cannot tell the difference. Therefore it has no choice but to share the info with me. I immediately get a copy of the history to my phone.
This angers her and I know immediately that I’m on to something. I’m scrolling through the history and she is yelling at me. I’m yelling back. I see communications between this DLV and the two from the accidents and I tell the car exactly what I’ve found. I begin making connections. Obviously Dakota is behind these “accidents”. He wanted these people gone for one reason or another and he used his car to get the information on them. Once I say all of this to her she really explodes. She locks the doors and blasts the heat as if she was trying to cook me right there. “You’re wrong!” she yells. “Dakota doesn’t know anything. I did all of this alone to protect him.” And then that’s when it hit me. The car was the one responsible for all of this. Not Dakota. She had connected so strongly to Dakota that she decided to kill to make his life better. She realizes she has said too much.
Then the engine roars on and he rushes down the road full speed. As we approach a clearing, she stops and begins to spin out of control. I am almost sure this will result in the death of both of us. And I’m okay with that. Any car with homicidal tendencies needs to be eradicated one way or another. “STOP!” I commanded over and over. Then I realized if Dakota was here, she’d be willing to stop. We continue to spin around and then she drives away. I don’t know where she’s taking me but she’s driving way too fast. I texted Dakota to tell him I’m in his car. We zip past his house and I see a blur that I am hoping is him at the front door.
“Jessie! Stop it right now!” Dakota shouts loud enough to convince me that I too was being reprimanded.
This only made her more upset. It’s like yelling at a child mid-tantrum when they haven’t yet reached their peak. They kick the screeching up a notch – hit a few notes you never wanted to hear. The engine growled and roared with power as Jessie spun faster than I knew was possible. This was Jessie’s tantrum reaching its peak. “Come back!” he shouts even louder. And she actually stops. I’m sure the tantrum had drained her energy. I see Dakota running towards us and I take it upon myself to destroy her dashboard. I know behind it lives the motherboard, so as long as I can ruin it, I can kill her. I take the headrest off of the passenger seat to expose the metal. I use it to repeatedly bash in the dashboard as she yells and screams for me to stop. Sounding more and more human after each blow. Her voice begins to drown out and then I completely black out.
Alheeti, Khattab M. Ali, Muzhir Shaban Al-ani, and Klaus McDonald-Maier. “A Hierarchical Detection Method in External Communication for Self-Driving Vehicles Based on TDMA.” PLOS ONE 13, no. 1 (January 9, 2018): e0188760. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0188760.
“Autonomous Self-Driving Vehicles.” Annals of Emergency Medicine 73, no. 6 (2019): e85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.02.036.
Brinkley, J., B. Posadas, I. Sherman, and S. B. Daily. “An Open Road Evaluation of a
Self-Driving Vehicle Human-Machine Interface Designed for Visually Impaired Users.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION 35, no. 11 (July 3, 2019): 1018–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/10447318.2018.1561787.
Liu, Peng, Run Yang, and Zhigang Xu. “How Safe Is Safe Enough for Self-Driving Vehicles?” Risk Analysis 39, no. 2 (2019): 315–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13116.