Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Technology takeover becoming a reality

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Self-driving vehicles and cellphone game are ominous portents.
The rapid rise of Pokemon Go substitutes your phone screen for the real world. Photo / Michael Craig
The rapid rise of Pokemon Go substitutes your phone screen for the real world. Photo / Michael Craig

In Wellington, I'm noticing that pay-and-display parking is changing. The trend is towards parking spaces being numbered.

You have to search out this number on the ground, memorise it, walk to the machine, and then navigate the process that results in a parking receipt. It's a lot more steps for the human. But why is this preferable to just paying and displaying, without specifying a space?

The answer has to be driverless cars. Am I right? The council wants to protect against driverless cars taking up a space, not paying, and then just moving a few metres when they sense a parking warden.

They could even be programmed to occupy a space, chill, and when the warden tries to slide a ticket under the wiper, swish the wipers and spray in self-defence.

None of this is science fiction. Like objects in your mirror (which you only ever look in to check your hair) driverless cars are closer than you think.

In Florida in May, a semi-autonomous car - which sounds like a fully autonomous car, grooming the jury for an alibi - killed its passenger. Well, technically, its driver.

But can you really call someone a driver if their hands aren't on the wheel and their eyes aren't on the road? Surely this person is a passenger, if not a hostage.

This car, a Tesla, was on autopilot. In theory, it could get to a programmed destination, avoiding obstacles and stopping for lights. What more do you want? That's enough for a teenager to get a licence.

But, contrary to the first law of robotics, on this occasion the car ran straight into a truck-trailer, killing its master. Murder? Or a genuine accident? We know the car had opportunity and method - but was there a motive? (An auto-motive?) Obviously, when a car kills its owner, it's a murder-suicide, so we have to question the car's mental health.

What sort of fuel was it taking? Did the car bear a garage against its owner?

Stay with me on this. Last week in Dallas, in response to the sniper killings of police, the Dallas police used a robot, armed with explosives, to blow up the suspect.

The robot was remotely controlled, so it's not like a Dalek wheeled itself to the perpetrator, negotiated in a monotone, then, sensing an impasse, threw its robot claws up in exasperation: "Exterminate."

But still. It's a step towards remote-control destruction as a form of law enforcement. When you detonate a suspect, you're not exactly looking for answers.

And, in just a few days, the world has been taken over by Pokemon Go. This addictive phone version of magic mushrooms makes people see Pokemon creatures, in the real world, as long as they only look at the real world through their phone screen.

And why wouldn't you, when your phone-world has magical creatures from your childhood, and all your emails, and Facebook - and the real world, unfiltered, only has boring nature and people?

The game is free, but I'm sure it's only a few in-app purchases before your vista is filled with naked hotties as well.

When solving a conspiracy, follow the money. Who benefits when drivers don't have to drive? The liquor industry, obviously. When your vehicle is the designated driver, is there any reason not to be perma-drunk?

A whole new market is on tap. And of course, the cellphone industry. All that pressure not to be on your phone, providing data to The Man - gone. Stroke that touchscreen. But remember, as your car becomes autonomous, the autonomy comes from you.

Futurists speculate that once driverless cars become commonplace, owners will rent them out for hourly use by sex workers, like Uber meets Airbnb meets Tinder meets PayWave. And when I say meet, we know they're not just meeting. It's an autonomous, erogenous app orgy.

Who benefits when people don't choose where to walk, but instead can be made to walk wherever the Nintendo Corporation commands them to? There's the autonomy again.

If you want to create a major protest march, you can get the same effect putting some rare Pokemon on a thoroughfare. And why bother milking real cows for an economy, when we can bring tourists to our fields with some select Pokemon?

Who benefits when parking wardens can ticket you for getting the number wrong on your space? Okay, that's easy, the council. But yeah, they're monsters.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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