Intent of the amendment — To prevent the Federal or similar government authority from restricting or controlling when and where a person may move about. Subject, of course, to pre-existing trespass laws.
Now clearly I am not a constitutional attorney, but over time I am certain we can draft something that captures this intent correctly, so focus less on the nuance and implementation of the law and decide if you agree with the premise. That the government should not be able to restrict or control your freedom of mobility. Yes or No? Let’s add to that, should the government or central authority be able to monitor your movements via your vehicle?
I too can come up with a million reasons why the government SHOULD restrict your mobility. No Fly Zones, airport safety, dangerous travel conditions, etc, but the point of going to the trouble of a constitutional amendment is to highlight that mobility is a fundamental freedom that should be safeguarded to the broadest extent possible. This idea, which I hope is easy to agree with, is the justification for amending the constitution, after which our legal system will go to work on the amendment and put it into action. Which includes minor restrictions designed for our safety. But I want the authority to FIGHT for that restriction, not take it by default, which is what is happening now. Focus on the premise…
In 1787, if you wanted to pack your wagon and drive the horse over the Appalachian mountains, no one would stop you and few would even know you left. This right to mobility was so basic and well-understood by our founders there was no need to safeguard it. In fact the Federal Government at its most terrifying to colonists wouldn’t have the means to restrict mobility on a wide scale, thus it wasn’t relevant when the constitution was drafted.
Most people today may not know that you do not have the right to drive a car. It is a privilege granted by states. Privileges can be taken away, rights cannot. In a world of autonomous, internet-connected vehicles, it may come to pass that a central authority will decide where those cars can go, when they can go there and maybe more importantly, where you cannot go. Personally, I am ambivalent to the mode of transportation, autonomous or manual, but I do recognize that autonomous drive vehicles will actually INCREASE mobility for some who could not operate vehicle. So this argument isn’t about the mode of mobility. It is about the right to move about freely without government control or oversight.
I do believe that with the advent of autonomous drive cars and their inherent connectivity, there is a dramatically increased ability of a central authority to exert control over mobility. That is where my concern lies. The web of sensors on an autonomous drive vehicle necessitate connectivity, to the road, to cars around you and often to the internet. As these vehicles become more widely adopted over the next 10 years, local, state and Federal government authorities will exert more and more control over the process. Unchecked, like the forfeiture of Privacy that has already occurred, this Right to Mobility will become seriously limited if not entirely taken away.
Now the argument from the other side will be, you are NOT restricted. Hop in your autonomously-driven car and go where ever you like. But the implication has changed. Go where ever you please has changed to go where ever weallow you to go. It’s the question of control. I want the control of who, where and when, to stay with humans, not the autonomous drive car or potentially worse, the central authority responsible for its programming and efficient function. More importantly, I want to make sure that vehicles maintain satisfactory functionality controlled by me, and not someone else.
Here are some examples that I would like to protect against.
- Simply removing the ability to operate your own vehicle. The argument will become that you do not have the right to drive your “death machine”. In 2015, the fatality rate was 1.22 fatalities per 100 million miles driven. Would you like to see that in decimal form? (.0000000122) Now granted, I love the idea of taking drunk and otherwise impaired drivers off the road, but don’t autonomous drive cars do that by default? Even if they don’t let’s create a sensor that prohibits a person from operating their vehicle if they have alcohol on their breath. If we avoid impaired fatalities then the number is substantially lower for sober drivers. Here’s the point, there is an equivalent chance of you winning the PowerBall (.000000003), to you causing a fatality while driving. But the state will sell you the lottery ticket and not let you drive the car?
- See major highways and commuter routes turned autonomous drive corridors. Imagine if the highway you were taking to work had 5 HOV lanes instead of 1 or 2. What would happen to your, (and the other drivers who were not yet autonomous), ability to drive in that single lane? Traffic jams would skyrocket for non-autonomous drivers and eventually out of sheer traffic jam torture, you would cave to the pressure to get the autonomous drive vehicle. We will call this concern AUTONOMOUS ONLY. And yes, this will happen.
- The central authority tracks your every movement. Maybe this is equal parts Privacy and Right to Mobility, but if I choose to go somewhere and I don’t want anyone to know where I am going, I should have that right. But we already have traffic cameras and toll booths and GPS, so I’m out-of-luck already, right? I should be able to turn off my GPS, avoid taking toll roads and not HAVE to deal with traffic cameras and other cameras everywhere. The anti-privacy argument will say, “why do you need that?” Witness protection and whistle-blowers REQUIRE privacy, but no longer have it. Law-abiding citizens should start with privacy and determine if they want to cede it to the authorities in return for services rendered, such as GPS. If I turn on my GPS, it is because I want to use a series of government launched and funded satellites in order to know both where I am and how I am getting to my destination. I have elected to sacrifice my location privacy for convenience, but that was MY choice. It wasn’t taken from me without asking or without my permission. Most importantly, sometimes it is good to just “get lost”. To fall of the grid and escape a world that will be increasingly connected and integrated, the Right to Mobility may just be the thing that allows us to escape.
- Security of all of these interconnected systems is questionable at best. The ability to hack traffic cameras with facial and vehicle recognition software will give criminals power to find you with ease because I cannot opt out of the system when I need to.
- Resources will become increasingly aimed at the majority, which will create a minority that is discriminated against. If I don’t have the right to drive to the middle of the Adirondacks, because the central authorities have diverted all of their infrastructure spending to the primary autonomous drive corridors, then we all have lost access to freedom. Access to the Wild, Access to escape. I want to make sure we ALL have access to this view…
Even if we don’t exercise the right to do so. Unfortunately, I think escapes like this will become more and more valuable in the future and I simply would like to safeguard that right.
So again, I am not opposed to autonomous drive cars. I am not opposed to the efficient operation of vehicles for better traffic flow and other conveniences that people will enjoy. Rather, I want the authorities and the autonomous drive vehicle manufacturers to be required to ALLOW the freedom of mobility. I don’t want to have to fight to get it back (like privacy) after it has already been taken away from me out of convenience, cost-benefit practicality and an argument for my safety that rings hollow. I hope you will support my view on the Right to Mobility, I think our Humanity will benefit.