A glorious new future is being created by Google in California, where the company has been test-driving automated cars "that can drive themselves" on the expressways and streets—even the famously twisty Lombard Street in San Francisco. During these test runs, there is always a human behind the wheel in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with the artificial intelligence software, but that would never happen, right? The Times reports that engineers envision a day "the technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption." And maybe one day they'll power themselves using humans' BTU heat and bio-electricity, thus ending our dependence on fossil fuels! Video:
According to Google, there's only been one accident, and it was a stupid human's fault. (A Google car was rear-ended at a stop light.) But the Times wonders: "In the event of an accident, who would be liable — the person behind the wheel or the maker of the software?" Obviously the software itself can't be held accountable... at least not until it becomes self-aware.