Interview with Peter Wayner about his book on how autonomous cars will change everything.

Q: Tell me about the book.
A: I started making a list of all of the things that would change when the autonomous car arrived and it kept getting longer. Then I decided to type it up. Each item became a chapter and I drew the line at 80.
Q: It has 99 chapters?
A: Yes, but they're all quite short. Some are just a few paragraphs. Others are longer.
Q: Who should read it?
A: Anyone who's interested in speculating on what life will be like after the car arrives. The book offers a vision. Some of the predictions will come true -- in fact some have already come true-- but some won't. We're all guessing and this is a fun starting spot. The book is a starting point for thinking about what the future will be like. It's a jumping off point.
Q: Why the autonomous car?
A: It's the biggest way that cyberspace is reaching out to re-arrange meatspace. It's going to change so many things. The Internet just changed information and data. This will change our world. You can't escape it.
Q: In what ways?
A: There are the obvious changes. We won't have to mind the road any more. We will talk on our cell phones or do our nails or take a nap. Driving while intoxicated won't be a problem. Well, it won't be the same kind of problem. People may give the wrong instructions to the car and end up on the doorstep of an old spouse or some place worse but they won't kill anyone on the way there.
Q: We'll be given hours of free time.
A: It will be a gift from above for the commuters and anyone who's out running errands.
Q: The productivity gains will be huge.
A: There will be some who work on the way to work but there will be others who just relax. Maybe our relaxitivity gains will be bigger.
Q: We won't be sure until we give the time to everyone.
A: Yes. The secondary and tertiary changes will be even greater. Doing your nails in the car is a big gain for those who like to paint their fingernails, but I think we'll see big changes in the cities and the suburbs. Real estate will be valued differently and that will be huge.
Q: How?
A: Well, for one thing autonomous cars don't need to park. They can go off and give someone else a ride and make some money. So parking will be siginficantly less valuable.
Q: So don't invest in parking garages.
A: I think many of them will be converted to something else. The same goes for billboards. Everyone in the cars will be reading or chatting. There will be fewer and fewer people looking out windows. Cars may not even have windows.
Q: No windows?
A: Why? They just break and let in heat that increases the cost of air conditioning in the summertime. When rock stars take limo rides, they use curtains to close the windows. I think we'll all live like rock stars when the autonomous cars come along.
Q: Rock stars?
A: Why not? They're the ones in society who can do what they want. The robots will make us all rock stars-- at least when we're riding in the cars.