Don’t worry about paying attention because automatic emergency braking has your back, right?

With fully-autonomous cars on the horizon, automakers and regulatory boards everywhere are pushing the envelope as hard as possible. We keep hearing about how great, safe, and time-saving a world full of autonomous vehicles will be, but do you honestly hear anyone you know saying something like “I can’t wait for self-driving cars” or “I’m so ready to give put my life in the hands of some complex computer algorithms?” No, you probably don’t, and some studies even show that a majority of people aren’t ready to give up the steering wheel. But, autonomous cars are still being pushed on us anyway, with new vehicles including semi-autonomous features like automatic braking and adaptive cruise control built in without the user option to disable.

Then there’s Tesla who’s practically heading off the self-driving idea and allowing its customers to put their life and that of others in risk to help build awareness that the technology is safe. Still, there are lots of people who enjoy driving, and will do their best to not give up the wheel, myself included. So, what’s the best way to build trust in something new with the masses quickly and efficiently? Easy, force them to use the features (think emergency braking) then subliminally convince them to trust those systems via tacky and annoying commercials.

There are quite a few out there, but I’m just going to highlight two because they are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. Let’s dive in.

Kia’s Worst Commercial Ever – Talent Show


In this commercial we see a female driver going about her business, just jamming out to so fairly annoying song on her radio. All of the sudden, her mind wanders and she’s daydreaming of being at a talent show where she, naturally, is rocking the house. All of the sudden, her face almost bites the steering wheel, and her car starts beeping after the automatic emergency braking kicks in. Good thing she had that autonomous technology to make up for her stupidity and lack of concentration, right?

VW Passat: Dad, Stop!


In this commercial, we see a different story, but a similar result. Here, daddy is interested in why his daughter doesn’t want to be seen with him. As he starts to harass her about it a bit, some moron in a convertible cuts him off and slams on the brakes. Luckily for him, VW emergency braking and crash deterrent system was paying attention, as the car comes to a complete halt and his young daughter runs off quickly before embarrassment kicks in.

So What Does it Mean

These commercials, and others like them, are attempting to show you that its ok to not pay attention. Why? Because for self-driving cars to be widely accepted, you must be willing to give up complete control. The more we become comfortable relying on these semi-autonomous and “emergency” systems, the easier it will be for us to give up full control in 10 years when you can’t buy a car with a steering wheel. Of course, there is fine print telling you not to rely on such systems, but why would there be such an emphasis on something that says it’s okay to succumb to that “eight-second attention span.” It’s all a method of transitioning the general public into giving up the freedom of driving themselves and trusting a computer to handle things for you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe trusting a computer just yet is the right way to go. After all, what happens when they all go rogue and pull a Terminator on us? All jokes aside, folks. Please don’t rely on these semi-autonomous systems and don’t let the automakers fool you into trusting their technology. Make them earn that trust.

On a side note, let me just say that I’m not 100-percent against self-driving cars. I do believe that someday they can be safer, time-saving, and reliable, but I don’t think we should have to put our lives at risk or be conditioned to feel that sense of comfort just to get used to them. Pushing technology on people too fast can ultimately lead to disaster, and with all of the dumb drivers on the road already, we don’t need more people throwing caution to the wind because their new Kia will supposedly stop when you don’t. Just my two cents. What do you guys think, though? Am I way out in left field here, or does it seem like automakers are trying to condition us to accept autonomous systems? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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