SciFi reality: red light camera
Updated: March 28, 2012 5:16PM
Life is like ...
Today, I’m feeling that life is like a science fiction story. One of those cautionary, twilight-zoney tales about how human beings come to depend more and more on machines as their servants until one day machines take over and human beings become the servants of machines.
Has that already happened?
Submitted for your approval, the red light camera.
I hate them. You hate them. Everybody hates them, except for money-hungry municipal officials.
They’re all about revenue, not safety. They cause accidents rather than prevent them. There are so many reasons to criticize red light cameras.
To those reasons I add another:
They aren’t human.
Red light cameras are computers, machines. They measure as computers and machines. That is, they operate in micro-seconds. Human beings can’t.
Neither can human beings react and move in micro-seconds. Humans need time to react. Computers neither need — nor give — such time.
Neither do computers take into account the environment. A computer can’t tell — and doesn’t care — what traffic is like near an intersection. Is it heavy? Is traffic so close so that if a car stops fast at a changing light the car behind it will crash into it? Was the traffic light obscured by a turning semi? Isn’t slowing to 1 or 2 mph really the same as stopping before turning?
Computers take none of this into account. They just click away their micro-seconds, their minute divisions of time that humans can’t possibly replicate or obey. That’s why red light cameras are such a bonanza to municipalities. They catch people “breaking’’ a law people often can’t possibly obey.
Behaviorally, computers and people are apples and oranges. Yet computers are now our judges and juries.
The machines have won.
Which kind of melds with another science fiction plot, the one in which human beings become the food of an alien people.
With the economy still lousy, municipal officials (i.e., an alien people) seek ways to fill their coffers. Fees and penalties. That’s what they have come up with. Red light cameras are one such fee.
And there are so many
others. Just think of all the fees you pay to drive, to operate a business, to remodel your home ... to feed the municipality. Are we just food?
Are the municipal codes and fees — a cookbook?
Doo doo doo doo,
Doo doo doo doo ...