How social media censorship demonstrates the horrors of driverless cars

A sobering implication of the debate over social media censorship concerns the dangers we face from driverless cars

Cars without steering wheels have been a reality for at least a year.  These cars will be directed from a central database using GPS-like technology.  Travelers will access the database in order to program a destination and proceed on their journey without a steering wheel or other control mechanism. 

Travelers face trade-offs if they give up their steering wheels so easily.  The database can be programmed to deny access to anyone with certain transgressions, including late payments for taxes or municipal charges.  The database can limit access based on environmentalist ideology, fuel rationing policy, and traffic control schemes.  Most of these limitations can be imposed under existing regulations without new legislation or other methods of reaching a consensus among voters.  Our mobility is at the mercy of bureaucrats wielding modern technology. 

What do the driverless car and its accompanying freedom trade-off have to do with social media censorship?  Perhaps everything.  Government bureaucrats will not personally program the massive database upon which the driverless cars will depend.  Instead, the database will rely upon the same tech-savvy talent pool that has revolutionized every aspect of mass communication in recent decades.  The same ideology that controls our online communications will now be controlling the destinations of our driverless cars.

Do we expect the driverless car database to operate any more "fairly" than social media?  Will we be surprised when conservatives find themselves locked out of the GPS database after voicing conservative opinions on social media?  Facebook has no rational explanation for the censorship it now practices.  The company ultimately apologized to Franklin Graham.  But it ignores protests from its less famous users who find themselves blocked or censored.

We have no reason to believe that Big Tech will treat us any better once its GPS system controls our transportation.   The profit motive will not determine the policies of those who control GPS for our driverless cars.  The bureaucrats will pay Big Tech for creating and servicing the GPS database, regardless of whether Big Tech blocks some individual users.  As government contractors, Big Tech will be free to pursue the same policies that now predominate at Facebook and YouTube.  Might will, again, make right.  Conservative drivers will be banned in the name of fighting "hate speech."  Even Franklin Graham might have trouble reversing that policy.

The difference between Facebook suspension and GPS lock-out will be severe.  We are not talking about simply being unable to talk to friends online or share political viewpoints.  We will face the denial of our ability to travel.  We may have to choose between speech and mobility.

While the tech giants might not be "the government," thus avoiding scrutiny under the First Amendment, they will be more powerful than actual government officials and employees.  Congressmen will have no power to immobilize you by locking your car out of GPS.  But Big Tech will. The tech giants who control the GPS database will have achieved the kind of power that Congress can only dream about. 

The future is impossible to predict with complete accuracy.  But any such prediction must include greater bureaucracy, administrative proceedings, and major life changes beyond the power of Congress or the voters to undo.  Those trends have been the story of American life for the past eighty years.  We should also count on louder calls to silence conservatives under the guise of political correctness.  Those calls get more shrill every year and require only a little more "might" to be made completely "right."  The combination of political correctness, bureaucratic power, and increased technology will be dangerous to the individual. 

What is not certain is that we will surrender our very mobility to those who have proven themselves all too willing to use their might to silence us.  In today's political climate, driverless cars promise to be not the fun stuff of science fiction, but our worst nightmare.  Keep in mind the difficulties you and your friends have faced on social media before you welcome the brave new world of driverless cars.