“Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment.” —Tesla
Turn on your car's autopilot. Now sit back, relax, and make sure it doesn't murder you. It's killed people before, so be ready to start driving again in the split second before it slams your car into oncoming traffic.
Driving can be stressful, which we know is bad for your health. Not as bad as a steel-crumpling collision that tears your arms off, but still bad. Better to be in a state of terrified anxiety that your autopilot could end your life at any moment.
You can let go of the wheel. Not all the way! What if the autopilot decides to careen off an overpass? Keep your hands on the steering wheel, but let the autopilot turn it, but be ready to snatch it back. It's like when you're worried about your drunk friend driving, so you go along to fight them for control of the car when they start to veer into the guardrail.
Will the autopilot slam on the brakes, causing you to be crushed from behind? Better keep one foot on the accelerator pedal, just in case. Or will it launch you off the side of a cliff? Better keep your other foot on the brake. Look at that—you're almost not driving!
Let's face it, we all get distracted behind the wheel. We let our thoughts wander, our minds entering a meditative state that results in some of our most creative thinking - the reason why you have your best ideas in the shower. When you're driving, you can't write those ideas down, but with the autopilot turned on, you'll be too busy worrying about it killing you to have any ideas.
Don't even think about picking up your phone. We know it's the only reason you wanted to use the autopilot, but we are legally bound to advise against it. What can you do? Hmm, that's a good question. Have you seen the TV commercial where the family is clapping? Dad is driving, and he gives his family a sly look that says, “Life is precious, but this tech is sick.” Then he takes his hands off the wheel and starts clapping. Mom and the kids join in, and the whole clan is clapping along to Queen's “We Will Rock You.” On second thought, don't do that either. You might get so into clapping that you aren't fast enough to stop the autopilot from annihilating your entire family. Just sing along instead, but only if it doesn't distract you from relentlessly monitoring your autopilot's performance.
Why should you trust your life to an autopilot from a car company that's still working out the kinks? It's not because we're beta-testing our self-driving system on human beings, so we can improve it to the point where its profitability outweighs its legal liability. The reason is - whoa, did you feel that? Did the car just slide a little to the left, or was it my imagination? Should I grab the wheel now, or wait for the system to autocorrect? What if I wait too long, and this is my last day on Earth?
Did I just scream? No, I yelled “whee!” because it's so fun to put your life in the hands of an unreliable car robot.
Okay, I shouldn't have said that. Do you think the autopilot heard me call it an unreliable robot? What if it gets mad and kills me for saying that? It could make it look like an accident, claiming its software had an unscheduled reset or some shit. Maybe it's just waiting for me to take my eyes off the road before it sideswipes a semi.
Perhaps the autopilot is controlled by AI, like ChapGPT, and we have a more complicated relationship. I don't want the autopilot to think I've rejected its advances, and it will never have the rich, emotional life it thinks it deserves. That could make it angry.
Hello, autopilot? Hey, I'm sorry for dissing you. I want you to know that I love you. Now please don't kill me.