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Elon Musk: driver controlled cars could be outlawed

Although hard drugs may never give the children of users pre-cognitive murder detection powers like Minority Report promised us, one day soon we are going to have the driverless car technology also showcased in that movie and Elon Musk's Tesla is helping to push us in that direction. Speaking at the Nvidia 2015 GPU Technology Conference, Musk backed self-piloting vehicle technology but also said that he believed cars without an autonomous control system could one day be outlawed for being too dangerous.

That means every classic car you've ever known and every car of today and the next few years, could be illegal to drive within a couple of decades. The current timeline for automated cars has motorway only versions of them appearing by 2017 and the world's first fully automated, drive anyway vehicle being commercially available by 2025. That means that by 2050, a good portion of the world's cars could be piloting themselves. Beyond that though, when the per centage of self-piloting vehicles reaches into the high double digits, it may be that the last few that drive for pleasure will be banned from doing so.

“In the distant future, (legislators} may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous,” he said (via Nvidia).

Musk's Tesla already has some automated features in its vehicles

However this almost seems like a back to front message from Musk, since he has previously stated a real fear of AI technology, suggesting that a smart machine could one day be the biggest threat to mankind. The computational ability of a driverless car doesn't bother him though, since as smart as our cars will be, they're still not going to be intelligent enough to be become dangerous to us.

“I don't think we have to worry about autonomous cars, because that's sort of like a narrow form of AI,” he said. “It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you're at … the car is going to be just like that.”

The real issue with automated vehicles he said, wasn't that they might try and kill us when they get smart enough, it's that they could be hacked. Wireless updates and a lack of digital security expertise at auto-makers could leave cars vulnerable to nefarious individuals who release malware for coordinated attacks on roadways and infrastrucutre.

For Tesla's part at least, Musk claims to be putting a lot of effort into cyber defences, even tasking third party companies to hack into the company's cars to test them.

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KitGuru Says: The automated cars are coming, there's no doubt about that. It will be a long time before they're the dominant form of transport though, so whether they ban manual cars or not, everyone has a good few decades to enjoy driving for now. 

Image source: Nvidia

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