Yesterday I went to my bank only to feel like Rip van Winkle waking up after decades of napping. and finding that the world has changed. Gone were the smiling (and often scowling) faces at the counters. The counters were deserted and unmanned except for two. . For all major businesses please go to the ATN downstairs, I was told. Now my bank staff do not accept even cash deposits, The ATN does it. It is your job to count the cash properly enter it in the ATM and shove it through a yawning orifice and the ATM would spit out the receipt. I had to get the PIN for my new debit card. Earlier they used to send it by courier or I had to collect it at the bank but now I was at the mercy of the ATM. I had to follow the instructions in a letter sent by the bank (Most of which were in abbreviations which seemed like Gobbledygook to me n I was defeated by the ATM and I couldn't generate the PIN. May be the letter should have had a glossary attached to it. Then I went to catch the Metro and was punched in the nose by the ticket machine. I waited until the staff who had gone for lunch returned (Trusting the machine they vamoose together at lunchtime) Then I got a few megawatts of shock when I read in the latest work of Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari that self-driven cars are already in the market. Self- driven? In a world where even very few Homo Sapiens are self driven (They are mostly driven by parents efore marriage and wives after that). a car that drives itself? It does have its advantages. First, no No drunken driving.. Here there is a division of labour. You do the drinking and the car will do the driving and the poor local page reporters will be deprived of stories of deaths caused by drivers with one peg too many in them but cops will be saved the trouble of asking grown up people to blow into balloons as if they were kids. And if you employ drivers /chauffeurs ,they won't bunk work (the cars not the drivers) giving some lame excuse like their BIL's fifth cousin's wife's sister was sick' You don't have to give a salary or bonus to your car. There are problems too.An interesting one is narrated by Harari in his book 21 l Lessons for the 21st Century. Suppose your SDC (Self driven car ) is coursing at full speed and two kids jump before it suddenly to retrieve a ball that had fallen before it, and the only way the car could save the kids is to take a U turn and go to the other side of the road where a truck is hurtling forward and is almost certainly to hit the car and kill the owner. Whom will the car save, the kids or its owner? That of course would depend on the car's programming. Harari suggests two models : One altruistic which will save the kids and kill the owner and the other egoistic wouldn't give a damn for the kids and will keep going. See what complex ethical problems automation can create even for vehicles let alone fr people Why the hell can't we drive our own car or hire a driver. The driver could have saved both the owner and the kids. As soon as the ball comes before the car ,a north Indian driver will hurl abuses describing someone's incestuous relations with their mother and sister and frighten the kids away. May be a colourful vocabulary should also be programmed in your SDC. Harari didn't go beyond two models but my crazy imagination has come up with several. Here they are: SDC SALMAN: This model is programmed to climb on to footpaths, however high they might be and run over people sleeping there. Very socially aware model. Gives out a clear message that footpaths are meant for walking, not sleeping. SDC TIPSY: For those newspapers starved of drunken driving stories. Runs on alcohol not petrol or diesel thus saving valuable fossil fuel..>Has a knack for hit and run . Here too the labour is divided. It hits and the owner runs. Psst. Don't tell anybody but I heard rumours that another model has been developed SDC -Jihad. The developers thought that it would be hugely popular with those guys who would like to have a great bast. But they scornfully rejected this automatic car bomb smelling a conspracy to prevent them from getting a shortcut to heaven and the company of 72. PYTs They rightly pointed out that if the car becomes a martyr instead of a believer it would go to heaven and the car would face logistical problems. After all, no car can accommodate 72 people PYTs or otherwise.