Saturday, December 31, 2016

I appears that driverless cars may not be good news for everybody. Especially those on the organ donor list.

Courtesy of Slate: 

Much has been said about the ways we expect our oncoming fleet of driverless cars to change the way we live—remaking us all into passengers, rewiring our economy, retooling our views of ownership, and reshaping our cities and roads. 

They will also change the way we die. As technology takes the wheel, road deaths due to driver error will begin to diminish. It’s a transformative advancement, but one that comes with consequences in an unexpected place: organ donation. 

It’s morbid, but the truth is that due to limitations on who can contribute transplants, among the most reliable sources for healthy organs and tissues are the more than 35,000 people killed each year on American roads (a number that, after years of falling mortality rates, has recently been trending upward). Currently, 1 in 5 organ donations comes from the victim of a vehicular accident. That’s why departments of motor vehicles ask drivers whether they want to be donors. 

It’s not difficult to do the math on how driverless cars could change the equation. An estimated 94 percent of motor-vehicle accidents involve some kind of a driver error. As the number of vehicles with human operators falls, so too will the preventable fatalities. In June, Christopher A. Hart, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said, “Driverless cars could save many if not most of the 32,000 lives that are lost every year on our streets and highways.” Even if self-driving cars only realize a fraction of their projected safety benefits, a decline in the number of available organs could begin as soon as the first wave of autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles hits the road—threatening to compound our nation’s already serious shortages.

Damn, talk about unforeseen circumstances. I certainly did not see this one coming. 

However what advances in science taketh away, it cannot also giveth back.

In this case the solution to this problem may be organs grown in a laboratory for the express purpose of providing transplants to patients in need.

Of course that technology is still in its beginning stages, but desperate need has a tendency to expedite the scientific process.

It's either that or we build flaws into the autonomous car manufacturing so that every so often a car simply veers off into oncoming traffic and voila, new organs are instantly made available.

I'm not necessarily an ethicist but that does seem slightly wrong to me.


  1. A visiting engineer and I were once gossiping. He said after mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists, the availability of donated organs went way down.

    And... a Happy New Year to my favorite site!

    1. Exactly what I was thinking.

      If they want to increase donorship, the easiest way is to make it automatic in a vehicle accident and rescind the helmet laws.

  2. Anonymous5:05 AM

    How lazy have we become?

  3. Not so fast -- how many people will die crashing while staring, like deers in headlights, at driverless cars?

  4. There are still lots and lots of organs ready for use from death by guns.

  5. Or, we can do what a lot of countries already do. Instead of being an "opt-in" organ donor, we can all be "opt-out". One is a assumed to be an organ donor, at least for the major organs, unless signing a directive that you Don't want to donate.

    1. Anonymous5:50 AM

      Or keep our opt in, but unless you have opted in don't think you can get an organ( barring the inability to opt in due to medical reasons).

    2. Exactly.

      Isn't it strange that we have to opt in for voter registration and organ donorship but we have to opt out of e-mails lists and spam?

      I guess we know who is greasing the palms of our politicians.

  6. Anonymous5:25 AM

    Self-driving cars will cause the death of sick people? Sounds like a big oil talking point to me. Know what else would increase the availability of healthy organs? Making gun ownership mandatory for anyone over three.

  7. Anonymous5:28 AM

    Trump is tweeting again, wishing a happy new year to his many enemies and those who fought him. He has all the maturity of a 12 year old boy.

    1. Anonymous5:37 AM

      Oh geez, fat fugly bast...!

    2. Anonymous5:38 AM

      Enemies?! Yep that is him, what did we expect really. I think putin is the enemy fool.

    3. Anonymous5:40 AM

      You know, why is he even our incoming prez? He is for another country certainly not this wonderful best in the world one. Ugh fat arse.

    4. Did he end with Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah?

  8. Anonymous5:30 AM

    We'll still have all those new organ donors, a.k.a. motorcyclists who don't wear helmets. Not to mention, for the kiddie set, "my daddy don't believe in no triggerlocks."

  9. You and I are the same age, G. If you've ever read any Heinlein or Adams, et al -- I find it interesting how science "fiction" is becoming science fact right in front of our eyes.

  10. Anonymous7:10 AM

    Surely the need for an organ transplant is CAUSED by traffic injuries some of the time? So that number would also go down.

    Other consequences of driverless cars:
    -- 6 times as many cars on freeways
    -- Insurance industry goes nuts
    -- Commute time becomes time to do something else: sleep? read? knit?
    -- Car can park itself at a remote location after dropping you off.
    -- The blind can now drive themselves
    -- With a way cheaper fuel (like electricity), the car can go in large slow circles all night so you can sleep in your car instead of having to park it where you are not wanted.
    -- Housing prices will even out (less premium for proximity to work locations).
    -- Those who lose income/market share due to these changes (insurance industry) will fight it tooth and nail.

    1. Anonymous8:01 AM

      All the reports I've seen predict more car sharing, particularly in urban areas.

  11. At one time (maybe still happens), doctors in Canada had to spend a year in Texas learning the ropes of emergency rooms filled with teenage gun fights/deaths/organ harvesting.

  12. Anonymous9:54 AM

    My sister received a kidney from a seven-year-old girl killed by an eighteen-year-old who crashed a red light. As relived as we all were that my sister could get her life back and we no longer had to wonder if she'd keep declining and even die within the next couple years, of course we were heartbroken for that little girl and her sister and parents. The kidney failure was no fault of my sister or anyone. There are many reasons why this country has such a need for organs, and one, frankly, is that there are simply so many people who are obese gluttons who do not value their health for years and years and then suddenly end up diabetic and with other issues that place an extreme burden on their organs. There will always be a need for organs, but to see so many Americans just taking their lives for granted and doing many things that place their health in jeopardy makes me cringe.

    1. linda2:36 PM

      Wow, I SO agree with you. I work, and have worked for years, advocating for disabled people. More & more I see people who are disabled by chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, liver failure, COPD etc. etc. that really did cause their own impairments by: 1.) eating to excess and making completely unhealthy food choices, 2.) not exercising AT ALL,3.) excessive smoking and/or drinking, and 4.) after diagnosis of their illness failing to follow medical advice with regard to diet or cessation of smoking/drinking and not taking medication that can control the disease. It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people and allowing them to access the donor pool seems unethical, if not immoral.

  13. Don't worry. The Chinese will just ramp up the execution of prisoners for the black market organ trade.


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