The future is here, and it’s all very Jetsons, but maybe there’s something yet to be said for the way the Flintstones lived.
An unmanned commuter train crashed this week in Chicago injuring 33 people during Monday morning rush hour:
Investigators believe no one was on the train when it traveled about three-quarters of a mile and hit another train, injuring 33 people, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.
“From all indications of a very thorough and comprehensive examination at the crash site by our investigators, they certainly are of the opinion that no human was on there,” said Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone said.
He added investigators believe “some type of mechanical malfunction” caused the Monday morning rush hour collision.
The report goes on to say that the rogue train came to life on its own, defying all safety measures in place:
The train was out of service and undergoing maintenance at the Chicago Transit Authority service yard when somehow it started, slipped past two switches and an internal device that should have stopped it before it hit a train traveling in the opposite direction on the same tracks, said Robert Kelly, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308. [emphasis added]
As the smart grid is being fully rolled out around us, we are continuously being sold on how sophisticated and, you know, intelligent all this new technology is. The push for autonomy includes a trendy grab bag of tech that we are all supposed to believe in and entrust all aspects of our lives to, including biometric fingerprint secured smart phones, autonomous Department of Defense robot soldiers, and unmanned cars and trains.
But David Sasaki points out smart cities will likely lead to dumb people: “There is a real risk that as our lives become more automated we become more like automatons. We will follow the guidance of our smart phones without reflecting on how we live our lives, and how we engage in our communities.” [emphasis added] A real-life illustration of this involved Japanese tourists driving their car into a bay in Australia because they followed their GPS’ orders instead of their own brains.
Yes, the smart tech is all very clever…until it’s completely stupid.
When the unmanned runaway train took off on its own, 33 of the 40 people riding in the other train wound up hurt in the collision. While the injuries reported weren’t serious this time, nothing about this situation gives anyone any reason to put their lives in the hands of supposedly smart robots that can suddenly go dumb without warning.
How many people will be hurt next time this happens? Because basic common sense says there will definitely be a next time.