I do a lot of automotive research — have done for over 30 years — and I love cars.
I have recently bought a new car — one which came with a lot of safety features. The one feature that has me in a quandary is the adaptive/intelligent cruise control (with autonomous braking). Unlike ordinary cruise control, this one will speed you up and slow you down in accord with the movement of traffic ahead. If someone brakes ahead it jumps on the anchors for you automatically.
Sounds neat, huh?
But having lived with this johnnie for a few months now, I reckon this is actually a backward step in road safety. Why, because I don’t concentrate as much. I tune out. I look at much more around me than just the road ahead. Because I have abrogated responsibility to the gizmo.
And I find this makes me dozy, listless, bored; like I have had half a Mogadon but no sleep. And, I reckon more likely to stack the car horribly as I won’t know what to do if I need to make an avoidance decision fast that the tech doesn’t cover.
I really feel it.
And that’s actually why I love doing qualitative research, I’m not insulated from life, I feel the real. And that ultimately makes for a better journey for my clients.