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Autonomous Vehicles: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out?
Planetizen (2017)
  • William W Riggs
  • Seth LaJeunesse, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Michael R Boswell
In the 1960s, countercultural icon Timothy Leary popularized the phrase, "turn on, tune in, drop out," to describe the idea of using LSD and other psychedelic drugs to detach from society and achieve a higher level of thinking. Later in his life, he argued that the personal computer was the "LSD of the 1990s"—at that time having no inkling how much automation and augmented reality would play in our society, or how autonomous vehicles might change the way we connect with others. Might automated vehicles (AVs) be one of the ways that humans "tune in, turn on" and disconnect for the next few decades?

As we have written in the past, AVs have vast potential to improve safety and mobility, but they also come with many uncertainties that policymakers can proactively address through a variety of planning and policy mechanisms. Left unchecked by policy or pricing schemes, AVs have the potential to impart negative impacts. We have explored some of these potential ills in previous articles, but the notion of social health and connectedness requires more attention—just how will AVs influence how people connect with each other and how they engage as members of a community. Will we drop out? Research suggests that we need social connectivity, and policy might be needed to reinforce that in the face of new pressure to disengage.
  • autonomous vehicles,
  • planning,
  • social connectivity
Publication Date
Summer July 6, 2017
Citation Information
William W Riggs, Seth LaJeunesse and Michael R Boswell. "Autonomous Vehicles: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out?" Planetizen (2017)
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