The Washington Post

Now back to robots!

Matbe robots should be my beat. I think they are about to take over, in the good sense, oh, and also the bad sense, so I should be covering the latest developments for you. But I haven’t been, and I won’t. I’m going to wait for the robots to do that for me, which they will, shortly.

But from time to time, when something significant starts to break into the marketplace, I’m all over it. And that something, right now, is , of course, ROBOT CARS! They’re here! They’re in gear! Get used to it. It’s been pretty clear for awhile that they actually work. Time will, eventually, prove that they are better at it than most people. But the key thing is they’re being allowed on the roads. I think Nevada was first, but the dominoes are tumbling now. (Robot dominoes will be able to get back up by themselves).

Matt Yglesias worries about the requirement that somebody has to sit there behind the wheel. Yes, this requirement pretty much defeats the purpose of the technology, and will have a negative impact on sales. But only for a while, I think. It’s like those early laws that if you drove one of the first au-to-mo-biles, also known as “road locomotives” you had to have a guy walk in from of it with a flag. Maybe a costume and a drum and whistle too, I can’t remember. But this was obviously a temporary, transitional condition that let people get used to the frightening machinery. And so will this stipulation on self-driving cars. And how do I know that? This is how: CELLPHONES! Drivers want to talk on them, and robot cars are going to be the way they get to do it.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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