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Is the new “autonomous” car really autonomous?

When we think about the new electrical cars we hear the terms “autonomous” or “self-driving cars” a lot. However, are these cars truly self-driving or autonomous?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his article found in Cars and Drivers, makes the argument that these cars are not truly autonomous. These cars rely on formulas, algorithms, and networks to drive the car. Gladwell argues that this is taking the control out of the hands of the driver and placing it into a network. This effectively takes us back to the days of being driven around by a chauffeur.
When “driving” these cars, the driver must relinquish all control to the algorithms and networks and hope that they work. Today, every time we get into the car, we have some form of control. Although we do not control the drivers around us, we control when to make the car go, stop, turn, and perform any other feature. However, with the electrical cars, we have to depend on the network to make the right decision for us.

What happens if this network fails when driving? Often, networks around us stop working momentarily. Consider being at work and not being able to send an important email because the internet network is currently unavailable. This may be a slight, momentary inconvenience but not a life or death situation. Now, consider driving home on a busy, 4 lane interstate and the car network shutting down. This could spell much more trouble for us than the momentary inconvenience.

As Gladwell points out, we are giving up total control when getting in an electrical car. This makes the new electrical cars anything but autonomous.
For more information on the new electrical cars and Gladwell’s article please consult “Car and Driver” magazine. The edition is titled “Driverless cars are supposedly imminent and is the November 2017 edition.

About the Author:
Victor Carmody has been licensed in Mississippi since 1980 and has tried over 12,000 DUI cases including every county in Mississippi and in 23 other states. He has presented DUI seminars in 15 states and 4 foreign countries. Mr. Carmody is considered by many as the best DUI attorney in Mississippi.

Vic Carmody is an original Founding Regent and served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense from 2001-2002. He currently serves as a Fellow of the college and is active as an instructor during the summer trial college at Harvard Law School. Vic currently serves as DUI chairman for continuing education seminars for the University of Mississippi. He is the course director at Mississippi College School of Law for the Master’s Criminal Trial Advocacy program with an emphasis in DUI trials.

He is the original and now co-author of Understanding DUI Scientific Evidence, 1st and 2nd editions, Mississippi DUI: Law & Practice, and the Mississippi Criminal Trial Practice Forms manual, part of Thomson West’s “Mississippi Practice Series.”

The author would like to thank his law clerk, Lee Smith, for his contributions to this article.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit:

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Victor Carmody

Victor Carmody

I am the owner and managing partner of Victor W.Carmody Jr.P.A. My practice has taken me into all 82 counties of this state and most of the cities. I have also been priviledged to have represented clients in 15 other states. And as founding regent of The National College of DUI Defense I have relationships with almost 1000 DUI attorneys around the country, and I keep constant contact to share ideas and techniques to better assist in and out-of-state clients. I have always enjoyed helping people with their DUI problems.

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