Will those who say it won’t happen…..

In my work I have been lucky enough to see the steady growth of the entrepreneurial culture and have never ceased to marvel at the speed and originality of developments in all spheres of our lives.

Whether watching videos of operations by robots controlled by my friend who I see regularly at symphony concerts, or collecting my new car, that can park itself, tell me if someone is in my blind spot, remember my sitting position and do pretty well everything except go to the shops on my behalf, it is almost impossible to keep up with the advancements.

That excitement has never left me and has resulted in my latest book being on the way to the publishers. Yet, however excited I may be, there is always someone to try and put a dampener on my enthusiasm and positive outlook.

Recently I was having dinner with a friend and mentioned the driverless car. The immediate reaction was that it would never happen, despite such cars already having travelled over two million miles on American roads. The solitary argument put by my friend was that a driverless car had already killed one person and that would be enough to stop people getting into such cars.

However, compared to this one death, the US has around 40,000 deaths a year from traffic accidents where humans are the drivers, and New York taxis have over 8000 accidents a year. Yet neither of these statistics results in people refusing to drive or to use taxis.

One person even suggested that driverless cars would never be accepted because they cannot make moral judgements such as whether to steer towards a person or a brick wall in an emergency situation. As someone who has been in a serious accident, I can honestly say that self-preservation overcame any moral thoughts in that moment of panic and that artificial intelligence may be more capable than humans of assessing the impact of various actions.

Even more interesting is that over a quarter of a million people pass through Heathrow airport each day either to get on or off of a metal tube that will climb to over 30,000 feet. Incidentally, it is estimated that over 100,000 such craft are in the air during any single day.

And yet, for a large portion of the flight it will be controlled by an automatic navigation system. At least with the advent of terrorism the captain has stopped walking around the cabin to talk to passengers in flight, but business class passengers can still see him leave the cockpit to use the restroom during a flight.

On the subject of airports, and lately other places, monorails have become self-driving vehicles. I myself have travelled on driverless monorails at Gatwick Airport and through the streets of Singapore. In a few weeks I am looking forward to riding the longest driverless metro system in Asia on my visit to Kuala Lumpur.

I fully recognise that people are naturally resistant to change in all aspects of life; an attitude that has served the inertia of politics for many years until recently. But, even with resistance, change eventually happens. No longer is there a man with a red flag in front of you as you drive your car down the road.

Someone once calculated that major change usually takes fifteen years to fully come to fruition; but that it will happen. Strangely, the people that tell me that things will never happen have embraced home computing and mobile telephones within their own lifetime, not to mention the apps that go with them!

So, to paraphrase a well known quotation, will those that keep telling me that things will never happen please get out of the way of those that are doing it!!

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