became a popular pastime in the early years of the 20th Century
. Modernly, some might call it sadly, that era is on the cusp of coming to an end. Just as the automobile largely put an end to the previous use of the horse
and the train
as the primary modes of transportation
, the human activity of driving will, sooner than you can imagine
, be overtaken by the self-driving car
. The technology
for such a thing is advancing exponentially -- so much so that it will not be terribly long before a vehicle under the direction of an automaton will vastly exceed the safety of one driven by a person, people being susceptible to distraction
reactions, poor judgment
, and lack of certain ranges of sensory input. If vehicles generally are tapped into the same information system -- a tapping in the human brain
is not yet equipped for -- then they can communicate directly with each other instead of perpetually guessing at one another's intended next moves.
But the rise of self-driving cars will not only make the human driver obsolete, it will, as well, render superfluous
a great many external structures which human drivers routinely rely upon. Traffic signs of the sort which tell drivers which road leads to what destination. Traffic signs of the sort which tell some drivers to yield for others or stop for others or slow down for others or drive one direction or the other. Lane markings. None of these will be needed by self-driving cars with internalized maps and location awareness, and with vehicular movements coordinated by central communication instead of signage. The obsolescence of the human driver will make it pointless to expend the resources necessary to maintain road structures only of significance to human drivers, and so driving by humans will end up relegated to the same sorts of scenarios where horseback riding yet persists -- sporting and recreational spaces, predominately foreclosed from entering major arteries of everyday traffic.
And so the century of driving will end as abruptly as the many centuries of the other forms of transportation it surpassed. Some will express distress at this development, painting it as symbolic of artificial intelligence
overtaking activities naturally falling within the domain of humanity. But it is certainly questionable as to whether there ever was anything natural about a mostly-hairless biped sitting in a controlling seat of an ungainly aluminum and plastic construct and using its steering wheel
and pedals to substitute for the motion of their own legs