When I was a child, I was amazed when a rich friend bought a car that had electric windows. They fascinated me. However, even then they made me slightly nervous. Perhaps it was latent Ludditicy, or the fact that I was used to having a manual way to open the windows, but I wondered what happened when the electricity that ran the windows failed.
Over the years, as electric windows became more common, and then as computers became standard in cars, I kept wondering the same thing. Then a friend bought a car that didn’t have a manual handbrake, but instead had an automatic one that could be released (only) by a button press. This made me very, very nervous.
Then this incident seemed to realise many of my worries. Two quotes from the article:
A spokeswoman from the Transport Management Centre said the car’s steering wheel, handbrake and keys were stuck and it took an hour to get it off the road.
Audi said the driver was talked through the release of the electronic handbrake
Firstly, we have a car that simply cannot be moved. Secondly we have the car manufacturer having to talk the driver through the release of a handbrake!
I work with computers every day. I program the things. I know very well what can go wrong, and it worries me now, more than ever, that we don’t have manual ways of doing things with cars.