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Chick Wit: To Error Is Human

There's a lesson in every news story. Luckily, you have me to find it for you. Today's news story is the driverless car, about which you might have heard.

Lisa Scottoline (left) and Francesca Serritella
Lisa Scottoline (left) and Francesca SerritellaRead more

There's a lesson in every news story.

Luckily, you have me to find it for you.

Today's news story is the driverless car, about which you might have heard.

It's an Audi SUV outfitted with special electronics by a company named Delphi Automotive, and those electronics enable the car to drive itself. In fact, the car left San Francisco last weekend and is now driving itself 3,500 miles to New York City.

I'm not making this up. I saw it online, so you know it's real.

The car is due to arrive this weekend in New York.

It had better be on time.

And it probably will be.


Because there are no people around to make it late.

In fact, that's the theory of the driverless car. That it can drive itself anywhere, speed up or slow down, switch lanes, enter and exit highways, merge, and, in short, get itself where it wants to even safer than a "human-piloted" car.


Because to err is human, and if you want to eliminate the error, you have to eliminate the human.

In other words, there's no pilot to mess up the piloting.

No knuckleheads at the wheel to text, eat, talk on the phone, or swill vodka while driving, nobody to be distracted or sleepy, no man or woman to make the mistakes that humans inevitably make.

And don't get started on teenagers, which, though adorable, are programmed to make more driving mistakes than the general population.

It's not their fault. It's their hormones.

In that they have them.

There are few fuels more powerful than high-octane testosterone.

And at certain times of the month, estrogen can light an entire city.

I barely remember my estrogen.

And I'm not trying to replace her.

Because I don't miss her.

Nor does anyone around me.

To stay on point, when you think about it, the idea of a driverless car is very simple, and in fact, I wonder why it took so long to accomplish.

After all, planes have autopilot, so why shouldn't cars?

I know what you're thinking, that there are a lot more things to bump into on the road than in the sky, but you're forgetting that there's one big thing you could bump into in the sky, which is that large round ball located beneath the plane.

If you hit it, you'll do more than bend your fender.

The downside risk is greater. As in, it's down.

You get the idea, even if Harrison Ford doesn't.

So how does the driverless car get where it wants to go?

The Delphi website says that the car has "four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six lidars, a localization system, intelligent software algorithms, and a full suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems."


If I had all that stuff, I could drive myself around, too.

Oh. Wait.

Plus, I don't know what a lidar is, and I don't care. I don't need any lidars to drive my car. All I need is a fresh cup of coffee, my phone, something to eat, and a dead mouse in a water bottle.

You may recall the time I was driving, drank a dead mouse, and almost crashed into a divider, a cyclone fence, and a Wawa store.

Because I'm a human being.

And therefore unworthy of being a pilot.

I'm loving this principle of eliminating humans to reduce error, and I'm wondering if we could apply it in other situations.

For example, I'm pretty sure that both of my marriages would have been an astounding success if I hadn't been in either one of them.

Also, I think the country would be running better if we eliminated the human beings in government.

Oh, wait. There aren't any.

What if we just took the human beings off the planet and let Earth run itself?

Let's see, the air would smell better, the water would run cleaner, the ground would remain unpunctured, and the animals would be safer.

Just the way we found it.

Before we started driving.