Technology can be divided into three categories: things that exist in the real world, things that exist only in science fiction, and things that glimmer on the horizon of real-world existence — much anticipated, but never quite with us.
Self-driving cars fall oddly into the first and third categories.
In a literal sense, they exist. They’ve been invented and manufactured, and at the end of 2019 there were some 1600 self-driving vehicles being test-run on public roads across the USA.
But in terms of large-scale uptake, and especially in terms of the sort of social and cultural revolution they’re expected to usher in, self-driving cars have a long way to go before they get here.
When they do, though, the road ahead could be bumpy: the technology is set to bring new challenges that philosophers and ethicists are already starting to think about.