Computer Rage, Meet Road Rage

Angry woman with a burning car in the background

Computer rage: negative psychological response towards a computer due to anger or frustration.

In April 2015, a Colorado man was cited for firing a gun in a residential area. Why? He shot his computer eight times with a pistol.

We've all experienced that frustration. Hardware failure is very stressful. But the real culprit when it comes to computer rage is probably software.

I'm sorry, did you mean ...

Case in point: voice recognition software. It's improved, but it's still not perfect. (There's a funny Youtube video about two guys stuck in a lift when the system doesn't understand their Scottish accent.)

In the past, I got annoyed trying to report a power failure to the Tshwane municipality by phone. The system asked you to say the name of the suburb. It never understood me and I would have to hold for an operator. The good news is that now I can send an SMS. The bad news is that it doesn't help, because the power cut is due to load-shedding.

Computer rage, meet voice navigation

I was in Canada in 2013, and their drivers amazed me - law-abiding and polite even in rush-hour traffic. South African drivers are ... not so great. And even worse since the pandemic. Did lockdown cause memory loss about traffic rules?

I don't enjoy driving. When I was driving last week, some idiot went through a red light (again). And I thought how great it would be if all our cars were computer-driven. That made me wonder about self-driving cars and road rage.

My first thought was the problem with telling the self-driving car where to go. That was probably because I'd been experimenting (unsuccessfully) with using Siri while I drive. I imagined this kind of situation:

Me: "I want to go to Checkers in Centurion".
Car: "Sorry, I don't have an entry for a check coat in the rain."

Waymo, meet road rage

Then I got to thinking about real road rage. South African drivers excel at that. A few weeks ago, a road rage incident sparked violence in Gqeberha (aka Port Elizabeth). Cars, taxis and a shop were torched - an extreme reaction to a vehicle collision.

I would expect self-driving cars to reduce road rage. Apparently I overestimate my fellow humans. Waymo self-driving cars have been the target of many road rage incidents in the US. These include slashed tires, thrown rocks, abusive language and even a gun pointed at a Waymo safety driver. (In case you missed the name change, Waymo is the Google self-driving car.)

Waymo, meet South Africa

I think South Africa is a great place to test self-driving cars. We have all the challenges they could ever imagine:

  • Humans who drive on the wrong side of the road (aka taxi drivers).
  • Traffic lights that are out of order every time there is load-shedding.
  • Unexpected road surfaces, aka potholes.

What do you think? Please share your comments - I always enjoy hearing from you.

2 thoughts on “Computer Rage, Meet Road Rage”

  1. Richard Moore

    I doubt self driving cars will ever work in SA because of unrelenting lawlessness, absence of legible road markings, pot holes and dirt roads among other things. The AI in the cars would be hesitant to let any cars progress safely on their journey’s.

    1. You are probably right. That’s really sad. If our taxi drivers won’t let Uber drivers work in peace, there isn’t a lot of hope for an automated driver.

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