The Driver in the Driverless Car – Alex Salkever [Book Summary]

by Nick

What future awaits us – utopia or dystopia?

The answer to this question is for ordinary people. The voice of each of us is extremely important in discussions regarding unmanned vehicles, combat drones, artificial intelligence, data protection, genetic engineering, and robots that drive people out of the scene.

The authors of the book, Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever pay particular attention to issues of social justice, comparing risks with benefits, and correlating acquired autonomy with dependence on technology.

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The future to choose from

The company is actively discussing the risks and benefits posed by the rapid development of technology. Due to the huge diversity of opinions about what the future should be, it may seem that society is not able to control the progress. But we must not forget that with the destruction of the social system and infrastructure all the achievements of civilization also disappear, we recall ancient Rome.

Optimists paint a picture of resource-rich utopia based on progress and social justice. But if important decisions are not taken and the system of moral values is not strengthened, dystopia with a lack of resources and social chaos will become a reality. Our choice should be to eliminate inequalities and ensure equitable access to the fruits of progress.

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“We are concerned about the loss of control, the loss of the components of our identity, and most importantly, the loss of our freedom.”

The microprocessor revolution gave us home computers, email, GPS. But its reverse side soon came to light: many people were faced with growing income inequality or lost their jobs due to automation.

People express their protest against the economic destabilization caused by the activities of technology giants quite radically: for example, a group of activists threw excrement on Google’s corporate buses. Surely in the future, someone will want to wreck their anger on unmanned vehicles. With the spread of artificial intelligence, humanity will clearly need to make vital decisions.

Moore’s Law

Moore’s law, based on which the number of transistors in microcircuits doubles every 18 months, is the basis of the exponential development of technologies observed today. This staggering growth has been accompanied by a sharp drop in costs in areas such as genetic engineering, smartphone manufacturing, and renewable energy.

There is an effect that futurist Ray Kurzweil called the “law of accelerated return on investment.” The technological boom is developing along the S-curve, provoking new and new paradigm changes – for example, associated with amazing successes in the field of quantum computing or self-learning neural networks.

“With the help of the Internet of things, everything will drive by itself, download new versions of software itself, turn on and off by itself at the right time, and even realize that it’s about to break.”

The picture of the abundant, brightly lit, full of relaxation and entertainment of the future is complemented by ultra-efficient homes with robotics, autonomous cars, 3D-printers for food and the ability to replace any body parts.

According to some forecasts, life expectancy will increase in the future, universal access to education, energy, and clean water will be ensured, oil wars will stop, poverty will disappear all over the world. But such a future has its own inside out: loss of privacy, an increase in a person’s dependence on technology, unpredictable consequences of hackers, the ability to steal DNA and other biometric information.

“Artificial intelligence is the most significant invention of modern cybernetics and at the same time the most dangerous technology ever created by man.”

Changes will affect the life of every person. Do you trust robots to take care of your loved ones? Will you improve your brain, your body, or your DNA? Current legislative and state systems do not address these issues. In order for society to work out ethical standards, all its members must participate in the discussion of these problems.

Technology Does Not Wait for Permission

Technology does not need to wait for the approval of society for a radical coup. Companies like Skype and Airbnb are evolving around all regulatory structures. The manufacturer of 23andMe home-made genetic tests managed to withstand the onslaught of the US Food and Drug Administration. Uber successfully fights laws and taxi companies in different countries.

Hardly anything can stop successful innovation. With respect to any of the new technologies, three issues need to be considered:

  1. Is this technology equally beneficial to all people?
  2. How do the risks associated with its use relate to the benefits obtained?
  3. Will it strengthen the autonomy of man or, conversely, exacerbate his dependence?

“Our duty is to convey to politicians what laws we would like to have and what actions we will consider ethically justified in this new, rapidly changing world.”

Systems of “narrow AI” designed to perform specific tasks are constantly evolving, becoming smarter. Their descendants will be carriers of “conscious artificial intelligence,” or “broad AI,” which can solve unstructured problems that are too complex for humans. IBM’s Watson computer already knows more about cancer than any oncologist does.

The use of such systems will completely change medicine. AI-based technologies can replace many professions. So, the smart algorithms built into the Clearwell Symantec program and responsible for finding legal information work better than certified lawyers. Anticipating the possibility of “superintelligence systems,”


In the future, your teacher may become an “avatar” – an AI carrier, with a person as a mentor. Such a personalized educational process will resemble the Socratic dialogues of the ancient Greeks, who lived long before the advent of the modern “educational conveyor”. AI-based innovations will enable massive open online courses to carry out the function for which they were once created.

The results of the “Computer in the Wall” experiment, conducted by IT teacher Sugata Mitra in 1999 in the slums of New Delhi, showed that children willingly use every opportunity for self-education. In the “inverted model of education,” teachers guide students through the use of ready-made lessons from trusted sources.


Exponential advances in medicine will save many lives – in particular, by reducing the cost of prevention and treatment of diseases in the early stages. So, the inexpensive medical device HealthCube Pro performs 33 types of medical diagnostics, making it accessible to the poor in developing countries and rural areas of the United States.

Customer focus will accelerate the development of smartphone applications that allow you to control personal health. Innovative developments provide progress in genetics, epigenetics, and research of the intestinal microbiome. When medicine transforms a description of body functions into a data stream, a computer program will become the main therapist. The elimination of many health intermediaries will benefit everyone.

Robots – Helpers or Killers?

There is a paradox: robots are better than people to solve complex problems, but they can not perform simple housework, for example, to fold the laundry after washing. However, sooner or later, thanks to machine learning based on experience, personal robots will become agile and skillful and will spread in everyday life. The population of the planet is aging, and the help of robots will be most welcome here. According to forecasts, soon enough robots will take care of the elderly residents of Japan.

“Our personal information and our security will be a collateral loss in the ongoing struggle of the powers for domination.”

It is possible that in the future cars will be able to kill people. Even if the robots do not begin to subjugate people or destroy them, they will take away their work: according to forecasts, up to 47% of jobs will be lost in the USA. Nevertheless, automation benefits society: it promotes economic growth and creates conditions for equal access to abundance.

Universal Connectivity

The Internet of things is a network of miniature, remotely connected computers that are built into various home appliances. When transport, utilities, homes, and hospitals are networked with these devices with self-updating software, this will increase efficiency and reduce the number of accidents, incidence, and waste. But the Internet of things has a downside. First of all, he will be able to spy on us. We will lose the secret of privacy, turn into an object of targeted marketing and will depend on devices that intruders can crack in principle. So, in 2015, a hacker stole data on millions of children and their parents who were collected on their servers by the Chinese toy manufacturer VTech.

“Almost free energy and water, as well as unmanned vehicles will be the most powerful factors in increasing human autonomy in history.”

As the Internet of Things innovations spread, the risk of breaking into a single device increases. Not only security threats are associated with the Internet of things, but also the ability to directly harm people. It is possible that crackers will learn how to access cameras and microphones built into gadgets.

Most of us strive to link all our data to one account (for example, Google or Apple ID), which allows hackers to instantly erase the entire digital life of a person in case of a successful hack. Theft may also be medical information. Without radical changes to the legislation on the protection of personal data and property rights to it, the unlimited collection of information about people will never stop.


The advent of low-cost, high-sensitivity sensors revolutionized the drone market – today it’s very easy to control an unmanned aerial vehicle. In the Western countries, the onset of the “drone era” was enthusiastic: what opportunities are opening up for the delivery of fast food and parcels from Amazon! In developing countries, drones will be used for more urgent needs, such as drug delivery and improved quality of care.

Drones will be able to usefully work in all corners of the world – for example, to continuously monitor agricultural fields or detect fires. If you create a reliable infrastructure for drones, then long distances and terrain features will become much less significant factors for controlling and distributing resources.

But the widespread use of drones creates new risks: there is a danger of their collision with airplanes, drug transportation is facilitated, new opportunities for the use of poisons, firearms, and bombs appear. Drones can provide new opportunities for terrorists.

Genome Sequencing

Ultra-fast decoding of the genome will allow you to identify dangerous diseases in the early stages; the same technology will become a source of the threat of individual “biohacking”. To identify the dependence of genes on the environment, genetics will use artificial intelligence. The methods of “exact medicine” aimed at eliminating pathologies in the genome of an individual patient will be used in the fight against cancer. Calico’s research is exploring the potential for a dramatic increase in life expectancy through the use of stem cells and drug therapy.

“Everything happens much faster as technology accelerates and the transition from analog to digital systems, from devices created by nature (such as the brain), to computer programs, from natural to super biological and supernatural, takes place.”

Studies of the patterns of development of the intestinal microbiome show that a decrease in the species diversity of bacteria in the intestinal microflora may indicate the development of type I diabetes and various inflammatory processes. A promising method of treating Crohn’s disease was “fecal transplantation”.

In 2010, Craig Venter created a completely new living organism in the laboratory, called Cynthia, and the biology of synthetic organisms has become an object of general attention.

Human Empowerment

The proliferation of unmanned vehicles in the United States alone will save more than a million lives over several decades and will forever change society. AI-driven unmanned vehicles will carry passengers quickly, safely and with minimal fuel consumption. City dwellers will again be able to walk, elderly and disabled people will get more mobility, and people, in general, will gain unprecedented freedom in choosing a place of residence. But a universal transition to unmanned transport will lead to a reduction in millions of jobs, and new jobs will not be created to replace them.

“Despite my fears, I know for sure that humanity will be on top, as it always has been.”

The Second Sight-developed Argus II artificial retinal prosthesis, which can be mounted on ordinary glasses, has already received the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration. This device partially returns vision to patients with various types of blindness. Ekso Bionics robotic exoskeletons allow people with paralysis of their lower limbs to walk.

Implantable devices printed on a 3D printer already today save lives. The use of bio-ink, which is a multicellular building “blocks”, will allow the printing of human organs using the stem cells of the patient. Many people will want to build in their body not an imitation of ordinary organs, but super-technological devices,

“You may have to accept an amendment to the Constitution that our data belongs to us. In this case, users will be able to play on the same field with technology companies, which so far with impunity use the information received from us against us. ”

Exponentially developing technologies of solar energy will allow us to extract clean water from the oceans for drinking and irrigation, as well as provide almost free energy.

In 1954, the cost of photocell devices was $ 1,000 per 1 watt of generated energy, and in 2017, about 50 cents per 1 watt. With the commissioning of new production facilities such as Tesla’s Gigafactory, the cost of ultra-high batteries (a key component of solar energy storage systems) is rapidly dropping. In Africa, huge energy systems will never be needed – soon enough all the lighting there will be LED.

The Choice of Society

Mankind owns technologies that can be used for good or evil. The path to a world similar to the utopia of Star Trek is fraught with the choice of reasonable, environmentally friendly, socially fair decisions that will facilitate a sharp transition to the next level of technology. If we refuse to choose solutions that ensure equality and moral principles, then the available technological means will be used for dubious purposes. Or even open a direct path for the implementation of the dystopian “Mad Max”.


  • Humanity not only can but must itself choose its future.
  • Right now we have to decide whether a future based on progress and social justice or a dystopian one, awaits us.
  • In many areas, exponential growth is expected, but existing legislative and political systems are not ready for a high pace of technological development.
  • Matters related to robotics, automation, unmanned vehicles, artificial intelligence, drones, biometric information, genetic engineering and the Internet of things require urgent solutions.
  • Experts fear that without reliable “fuses” an artificial “superintelligence” could get out of control.
  • Progress has a flip side: we will lose our privacy, and hackers will be able to steal not only the data of our personal accounts but also biometric information, such as DNA.
  • Each implemented technology needs to be assessed by the ratio of risk and benefit and how it contributes to achieving social justice.
  • Thanks to new technologies for medical monitoring and treatment of diseases, the use of drones, medical services will be available even in the least developed regions.
  • People will begin to perfect their bodies through bioengineering and cybernetics.
  • Such an opportunity will inevitably pose ethical questions for us.

Why You Should Read “The Driver in the Driverless Car”

  • To understand where modern technology growth can bring us
  • To find out how new technology can help you become healthier and live longer
  • To use technology for gaining an advantage

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint