Today Eric Peters ponders the fall of civilization via the hell on earth known otherwise as the self-driving car.

'That woke me up, too!'

Cartoon Stock.

GM’s SuperCruise is fitted with a bevy of bells and whistles that are supposed to rouse the asleep-at-the-wheel “driver” when it becomes necessary for him to … drive. If the “driver” doesn’t wake up – perhaps he is sleeping too soundly and fails to notice the bells and whistles – the car will automatically turn on its emergency blinkers and slow itself down.

This will probably not be much help if a split-second intervention becomes necessary. As, for example, when a self-driving Tesla drove itself broadside into a big rig that had unexpectedly turned in its path. Which the Tesla’s “driver” didn’t notice in time.

And there, as the saying goes, is the rub.

A driver either is – or he isn’t.

There is no in-between.

It is not a part-time job.

To whatever extent a car drives itself, the driver is necessarily less involved. Less is expected of him. He is encouraged to be passive, inattentive.

Some self-wrecking cars are already here. More are on the way. Will you be passive and inattentive? I guess most will.

On that subject, take this Quick Test to determine your level of alertness. Mine was so fast as to suggest theoretical impossibility.