A rise in autonomous cars may cause a drop in organs available for transplant
Similarly, as autonomous cars inevitably make the roads safer, we’ll have fewer traffic accidents, and indeed, fewer organs available for transplant. That’s just a fact. If we want to take Slate‘s article as a suggestion that automated cars are a problem, then it comes across like any of the countless “Millennials are ruining yet another industry” articles that blame problems on change itself rather than on a failure to adapt.
Slate‘s analysis suggests a few ideas, such as an opt-out donor program rather than opt-in, which would make every driver who doesn’t opt-out a potential organ donor. Even as we approach a world where consumer-grade autonomous vehicles are a reasonable possibility, though, we’re also approaching a world where growing and printing human tissue is possible. Earlier this year, researchers implanted living, functional human tissue that had been printed by a 3D printer into a test animal. Bones are already a reality, and researchers are already working on things like kidneys, though we’re not quite there yet. But the same way we’re making huge strides in autonomous cars, printing human tissue is becoming a reality quickly. The same way the US Department of Transportation wants to standardize inter-car communication, governmental health organizations will have to regulate this new industry, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that, as automotive deaths decline, the gap in available organs may be filled by technology.
It’s a weird angle to take, but it makes sense to think about. If we anticipate the way technology will change our lives, we can look for solutions before the problem is a dire one.