Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 9, 2012/ 15 Adar, 5772

Someone take the wheel

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There's a great scene in the movie "The Right Stuff" where the original Mercury astronauts are checking out the capsule for their first trips to space. They're horrified to discover that the German scientists in charge of the program see the astronauts as nothing more than living props.

There is no window, the scientists explain. There's no emergency hatch or even controls for the astronauts to use. It's all automated. "We want a window," the astronauts demand.

The white-frocked experts reluctantly agree to give the astronauts a window and piloting controls because they know the American people would hate to see the nation's greatest pilots treated like lab monkeys with no say in their fate.

I can't help but wonder whether in 20 years the American people will have the right stuff to demand a steering wheel in their cars.

If you haven't heard, we -- and by "we," I mean the guys in the lab coats in Detroit and Silicon Valley -- are very close to having a completely automated automobile ready for the market. Driverless cars have been tested in numerous conditions. Audi even sent a four-wheeled robot to the top of Pikes Peak. Volvo has one that can let the "driver" read the newspaper on the way to work, even in busy city traffic. After a successful lobbying campaign by Google (which has logged thousands of hours with its self-driving cars), Nevada recently passed a sweeping robot-friendly law.

According to press reports, robots are already far safer than human drivers. Reaction times are better. Radar and GPS technology gives the robots a 360-degree view. Robots don't get drowsy, and they don't suddenly cross the yellow line when they spill a hot latte in their laps.

But let's assume the technology will -- as technology invariably does -- get much, much better, and Americans will be able to sit back and play with their iPad 7s as their cars take them to work. What next?

Some consequences are pretty obvious and desirable. Traffic fatalities will plummet. In 2010, there were 32,885 U.S. traffic fatalities -- the lowest total since 1949, but still disturbingly high. Computerized driving could remedy that.

Automated cars could also be an enormous boon to the physically disabled. Insurance rates would crater, traffic would be more efficient, speeding tickets could become a thing of the past (possibly bankrupting highwayman fiefdoms like Washington, D.C.). And -- hooray! -- we could all have martinis before dinner again because an embryonic version of Skynet will be our designated driver.

So far, so good. On the other hand, automated autos would undoubtedly put countless Americans who make a living driving cars, buses and trucks out of work, at least in the short run. I'm no Luddite. Capitalism is supposed to destroy unproductive jobs to make room for productive ones. Still, in the short term, the turmoil could be brutal, economically and politically.

But let's leave professional drivers out of it. Besides, truck and bus drivers do more than simply drive, and they might keep their increasingly redefined jobs for a good while longer.

What I find most disturbing to contemplate is what this would mean for American liberty.

Health and safety -- particularly for "the children" -- have become all-purpose writs for social meddling. The list of dangerous substances and activities we need to be protected from grows by the day. With the help of a media establishment that turns anecdotes into epidemics in a heartbeat, the state ceaselessly empowers itself to constrain our freedoms for what the experts tell us is for our own good.

Let's be fair: The experts aren't always wrong, and even when they're wrong, their arguments aren't necessarily unreasonable given their assumptions. But if you follow the logic of mandatory seatbelts and motorcycle helmets, red-light cameras and anti-texting laws to their natural conclusion, it's easy to imagine that some bureaucrats will want to co-author your car's software.

And then what? Will you ever be allowed to go over the speed limit again? Police are already drooling to see our GPS data. Will that become automatic too? Will the cops have the power to tell your car to stop whether you want it to or not? Will authorities be able to tell your car to take a detour to alleviate traffic? Make it turn around when it gets too close to certain off-limit areas?

I don't know, and neither does anyone else. But I would like to imagine that when these debates come -- and they will -- a sufficient number of Americans will have enough of the right stuff to say, "We want a steering wheel."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.

Jonah Goldberg Archives

© 2006 TMS

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles