India Prohibits Self-Driving Cars

Even as Indian technology companies begin working on self-driving cars, India’s Highways Minister says they won’t be allowed on the road.

Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday, “We won’t allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment, you can’t have a technology that ends up taking people’s jobs.”

This attitude crops up in other industries in the US, although often “safety” is the given reason, even when “jobs” is widely understood to be the real reason.

For example, in a few US states it’s illegal to pump your own gas, because “safety”. Similarly, the laws on telemedicine vary widely across the US, again because “safety”.

At least the Indian government is being honest about why they’re banning self-driving cars.

Nonetheless, it seems hard for me to believe this ban will last. More than any other country I can think of, India has seen its economy transformed because of information technology. It’s hard to believe the country will sit out the next wave of the computational future.

“There was a similar debate when computers came in. Not all technology leads to joblessness. You have to have the right balance. Technology has to coexist,” said Abdul Majeed, automotive leader, Price Waterhouse & Co.

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