14/01/2014 Newsnight


A breaking political story. The woes of the French president. Damascus. Why no inflation? Driverless cars. Keith Jarrett. With Jeremy Paxman.

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Forget the love nest, forget the early morning croissant deliveries,


don't inquire about the First Lady and listen up about how he's going


to save the economy. Facing journalists the President of France


was insowsant today. -- insoucient today. Translation, "mind your own


business"! But could this sandal be the one that nails the French


tolerance of bed hopping in high places.


In the midst of Civil War the pianist plays on at the Damascus


Opera House, what is it like to live or try to live in Syria now? Some


people are saying this is not the time for concerts. My opinion is


that this concert matters. And the car that drives and parks itself.


Coming soon to a forecourt near you. Do you really need to buy one?


Before that radical banking reform plan reportedly coming from the


Labour Party. Emily Maitlis is here. Tell us about it? Interesting


snippets emerging tonight ahead of Ed Miliband's keynote speech on


Friday. What we have heard this evening is proposals that he may


introduce some kind of competition within the high street banks. The


banking sector as a whole. He will, as I understand, suggest a cap on


the size of banks, possibly to do with their domestic market share,


possibly set at around 25%. We don't have confirmation on that figure.


This is a figure that is being talked about this evening. That


could draw on a scheme very similar to one in the United States, and


would involve getting rid of hundreds of bank branches, the idea


behind this is to split up the big five, the banking names that we are


all familiar with and give smaller banks the room to challenge them, to


come into the market. And if you look at this in the sort of wider


political frame, you will remember that before Christmas Ed Miliband


was hammering home the cost of living argument. That was very key.


That landmark moment at the conference speech when went after


the energy companies. And created, if you like, the impossible, by


suggesting this freeze and energy cap for two years on fuel prices.


Many people said, sounds utterly un-Israelistic -- unrealistic, but


it seemed to have a lot of traction in public opinion. He will try to


link the same argument from what we understand, the cost of living, by


saying not just these individual areas like energy, but bigger,


structural changes to the whole British economy. A lot of appeal to


those who think that the banking sector hasn't been bashed enough.


And who would like to see the banking sector paying the price. But


interestingly enough the responsive been getting this evening already


suggests this is more complicated than it sounds as a headline. For


example how do you start looking at the domestic share of a bank. How do


you look at something like HSBC, which is a global body, head


quartered in the UK but could go bust in China. What would 25% of


that look at? Just briefly, another senior business figure has been


saying you know we have had this nonstop intervention, intervention


on land, intervention on energy, it is part of a pattern and it is


rather anti-business, it could alienate business. I gather that


George Osborne is making a speech tomorrow as well? Yes, what we are


hearing is he's going to give a speech to the Open Europe Forum on


Europe, and it is to the Fresh Start Group also. The message then we are


getting a few key phrases from it, one is "reform or decline". He will


tell the EU, Europe itself that it has to back business, create jobs


and cut welfare spending. He's going to tell, if you like, the


institutions of Europe that they are not doing enough to become


productive to take on countries like China, India, the Asian giant who is


are really dominating the economy. There is the hint of a veiled threat


in this, that he may well say if we don't see significant reform, if


economic performance remains unacceptable, it might be that you


will find it difficult to persuade Britain it wants to remain a member


of the EU. A slight veiled threat. What is interesting about this is


the way he is straddling two audiences here. Because he will be


talking to Fresh Start, a think-tank about reform, they want reform from


the inside. They want to keep inside the EU. So it is significant he will


give this speech within that forum. But, of course, this is an answer to


all those backbenchers, up to 95, we understand, who signed a letter by


Bernard Jenkins, they are MPs who want to see a national veto, and


many would like to leave the EU all together. What he's saying here is


look I can be hard of nails on Europe but I want reform from inside


not out. Thank you very much. The Syrian


Government claimed today to have recaptured territory near the city


of Aleppo, after the recent fighting between different rebel groups it


does looks a though the balance in the Civil War has shifted a little.


It is nowhere near a conclusion. In the meantime the need for


humanitarian aid is so intense that the United Nations is about to


launch its biggest-ever appeal. Meantime the BBC's correspondent, in


and out of Syria all the time, has heard claims by the Al-Assad regime


that some western Governments may be beginning to change their tune.


She's here now. It is a real treat tonight, thank you for coming in.


Good to be with you. What is it you have heard from this Syrian


Government minister? Well let's be clear that what this the Syrian


Government is saying now, and of course this is very much a narrative


that it wants to spin. What it has been saying for many months is


listen, the real enemy in Syria is not President Assad, which American


Governments repeatedly call, and Arab states as well, on him to step


down saying he has no future. They say the real enemy is the rising


strength of these Islamist groups, some of whom are linked to Al-Qaeda,


and most of which are populated by foreign fighters, including


thousands that are coming from Europe. It is clear in the west that


they do regard this as a growing threat. Not just that the foreign


Jihadis are going to Syria and fighting there, but they will one


day come back. Come back to Britain as well. And we have heard


expressions of concern. The question is whether the Government is now


saying that the western intelligence agencies have accepted this threat


and want to make common cause. So when I was in Damascus recently I


put it to the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, I said, are we having


reports that western intelligence agencies are going to Damascus. This


is what he said. We understand that western


intelligence agencies have recently visited Damascus, including British


intelligence? I will not specify, but many have visited Damascus. Has


the British Foreign Office made inquiries about the return of its


diplomats? We are still listening to statements by Mr Hague statements


that are a flagrant intervention in our internal affairs. Statements


which he should particularly when it comes to democracy address his


friends in Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries or other countries


that are very close to the UK. But frankly speaking the spirit has


changed. What do you see? When sees countries ask us for security


operation, then it seems to me there is a schism between the political


and security leaderships. So in other words you have just confirmed


that British intelligence has been in touch with you? I'm not


confirming anything. I'm not confirming anything, I'm saying that


many of these countries have contacted us to co-ordinate security


measures. The political story apart... I should say now that of


course we contacted the for on office -- Foreign Office, they say


they don't comment on intelligence matters. They always say that.


Political stories apart, you know the things that baffles a lot of


people who look at these awful pictures coming out of Syria and the


size of the refugee crisis, is the whole country desolate or what?


Three years into the war in Syria and it is an absolutely punishing


war. On top of that, as aid officials put it, one of the worst


humanitarian crises we have ever seen. What we have seen from going


in and out of Syria over these three years that more and more of the


country is falling into rule. Every battlefield I have visited has been


an absolute ghost town. You drive for mile after mile after mile, with


not a house left standing, not a house which is not pockmarked with


bullet fire. Totally torn apart by aerial bombardments or torn apart by


the street-to-street fighting. We have often talked about the bubble


in the centre of some of these cities, still firmly under


Government control. That includes Damascus, where if you arrived and


didn't know there was a war you would say look at the parks, there


is lovers sitting in the park, civil servants are taking the buses and


going to work. The children are dutifully going to school. Then you


hear the mortars landing and the constant artillery fire. There is


not a single family that hasn't been affected by this war. But on this


recent visit to Damascus we decided to hear voices we don't often here.


This is what they have said to us about what it is like to live in a


warzone. A son nat toe by Scerleti, played by Syria's most renowned In


the Damascus Opera House it is something for another time.


TRANSLATION: Day after day the situation is getting worse. We have


more casualties, we are more stressed. You can't imagine how hard


I have to work to focus on art and this difficult atmosphere. Some


people don't come to the Opera House because of explosions, mortars. The


timing of the concerts has changed from the evening to the afternoon.


Some people are saying this is not the time for concerts. My opinion is


that these concerts matter, the role of art is to help build citizens.


Even when you are listening to the beauty of this music, it is hard not


to forget that just kilometres away, several miles away there are areas


outside Damascus where people are besieged and people are starving?


TRANSLATION: That's right, but the question is what should our reaction


be? I'm helpless to do anything except my music, and teaching my


students. I always try to support them, to build their awareness. That


is what I can do. I have another choice, I can stay at home, but that


wouldn't change anything. When the uprising began nearly three years


ago some Syrians felt they could change a lot by peaceful protest.


Including Rema Dali, they called her "the woman in the red dress". When


we interviewed her then, she told Newsnight she still had hope the


killing would stop. Now she's no longer taking to the streets. This


one was the one that became famous. Yes, I stood on the parliament in


Damascus and carried the banner and it said "stop the killing we want to


build a home for all Syrians". That was more than a year ago? It was


about one-and-a-half years ago. And that's when there were 10,000 dead,


sadly. Now it's 120,000. TRANSLATION: Our first mistake was


that we thought it was going to be fast, a quick change. And we are


paying for this mistake now. To make a change you need to be patient, you


need to look deeply, take a long breath and start working. There are


no quick changes here. I don't think we will see any change before five


years. But some people fear that if it does take another five years


there won't be any Syria left given all the killing and all the


destruction. TRANSLATION: There is no country that has days peered, no


people who have disappeared. There is some fear at how things will turn


out. What people are suffering what they will continue to suffer. How


Syria will be in five years and how different the Syrian people will be.


Three years on, do you believe that either the opposition or the


Government represent what you stand for? TRANSLATION: They are not


representative of the Syrian people, neither side are working for the


benefit of the Syrian people. They don't represent our values. But I


still believe in Syrian society, it still carries a lot of important and


noble values. No-one expected Syria's conflict would last so long,


cost so much, be so brutal. Few expected President Assad would still


be in power. Except perhaps those who support him. This is a wealthy


industrialist with ties to the President. He suggested we meet in


the Shakespeare Cafe. You were put on the western sanctions list, what


do you say to those countries now? I say first of all I tell those


countries I'm not urging them to lift me from the sanctions li list,


but I tell them in order for you, their politicians to protect the


interest of their own people, the western people, really you have to


side with the Syrian Government in fighting terrorism, because this is


the biggest fight against terrorism in the history since Al-Qaeda was


initiated and was born some 20 or 30 years ago in the Afghan war. This is


the biggest battle against terrorism in the world. And anyone who claims,


in the west, or in other countries, who claims that he is really


fighting terrorism, he should be a friend with the Syrian army and with


the Syrian Government. And the tragedy is people say it became a


self-fulfilling prophesy that President Assad talked about


terrorism before there was terrorism, because the war has been


so brutal it created terrorism. From day one, from day one they used


arms. No, there were peaceful protests when they started? That is


what they say. From day one they used arms, many used arms and tried


to create chaos. From day one or day two they attacked public buildings.


For months and months and months it was a peaceful protest? Of course we


had some mistakes in dealing with this. I don't want to defend the


Government. There are mistakes dealing with this, it happened,


Government has confessed, the President admitted the mistakes, all


these known TV stars that attack us on TV from five-star hotels, they


were all invited to sit with us and in a national dialogue in 2011, they


all refused. Because ambassadors, some ambassadors told them not to


come. Don't bet on a losing horse. We will, the regime will stay only


for three or four months. So basically don't lose your cards,


stay with us. This is what happened, unfortunately. If we were allowed to


sit together, we could have reached a solution a long time ago. Life


does go on. But Syria has been drawn into the abyss. With every day that


passes it gets worse. But after so much suffering and sacrifice,


emotions are raw. Still too raw for reconciliation. Or resolution. In a


moment... The driverless car. Now, he might not have reached the


rhetorical heights of Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez, but the President of


France, Francois Hollande, still managed some sort of record today


for the longest uninterrupted political speech in a foreign


language, broadcast in Britain. Doubtless there were many here who


were desperate to hear his sloganising about the French


economy. But even the eyes of some of the lap dogs in the French media


glazed over. As to the reason the rest of the world was interested, as


he put it, private matters should be dealt with privately. It was a very


French affair in every sense. We report from Paris.


What is it about the French? How does their language so plausibly


lend itself to a swelling love song. How has Paris so successfully


established itself as the global capital of the common human heart.


This has become a lovers rend day vow, each padlock marks a tryst,


couples come from all over the world to lock themselves together. In a


movie you can see a lot of movies talking about love in Paris and


Midnight in Paris is really romantic. Is it the most romantic


city you have been in. I think so. France's relationship with love and


sex runs deep. It has had a succession of Presidents,


Mitterrand's double life was an open secret among the Parisian elite.


Jacques Chirac's formidable life, Bernadette, knew about her husband's


liaisons, bore it and acknowledged it. But the French public looked the


other way. Why? Why until now has there been no salacious public


purience. It would have in Britain. A French lotion explained with


disdain the difference between the British and the French. He said we


British are obsessed with the loves of the famous because we lack


finesse in our own, and we disguise it with our excellent British


humour. That is the difference between us. We French are good at


love and you brush are good at -- British are good at comedy We are


sensual, sexy, and you are really very funny. It has been a long


traditionia public figures are entitled to their private life.


There are laws that limit the scope of the media work, we can be sued


very easily for breach of privacy of public figures. Actually the first


reactions to Francois Hollande's present problems was unanimous in


political establishment, all politicians of all sides immediately


reacted saying you know he is entitled to his private life.


Francois Hollande is a graduate of the Ecole Nationle it is an elite


institution that trains many of France's future leaders. It is often


argued that the French ruling elite is a home genius group of people,


and -- hem Mo genius group of people, and they went to the same


universities like this one where they were groomed for high status


lives. And this is why newspaper editors, senior politician, civil


servants, industry chiefs are connected to each other through a


network of lifelong loyalties and old friendships and this explains


why the sexual peck dill lows of previous Presidents stayed out of


the news. Is it true, in a press conference lasting more than two


hours today, Francois Hollande was asked only four times about his


private life. He gave them nothing. Was asked only four times about his


private life. He gave them nothing. The TRANSLATION: Everyone goes


through difficult moments and these are difficult moment, I have one


principle, private matters should be dealt with privately, and that is


the same for everyone concerned. He talked instead about the dire state


of the French economy, some here believe this is the real reason that


the old French privacy taboo has collapsed on him. Today the economic


situation is such and the indecision of this President, his inability to


make any decision is such that it looked plain ridiculous. The way we


look in the world I have many friends all over the world who


called me and this has become a play, more prone for sex than


serious economic reform. This is hurting the image of my country. And


I resent that. Whatever the reason, the old French consensus on privacy


in matters of the heart and the flesh is crumbling. The French


public are no longer looking the other way. Anne Elizabeth Moutet is


a French journalist for the Daily Telegraph, and we have a former


senior foreign correspondent for French television. Anne Elizabeth


Moutet, do you think this line that a private life should stay private


is going to hold in the case of President Hollande? No. I thought


that for years. Actually I changed my mind at the time of Mitterrand,


because he lied to the country about his parallel families. And it turned


out that the way he had behaved in his private life was exactly the way


he behaved in his political life. He lied about his past. He lied about


his links to Vichy France. He lied about his crooked friends and so I


thought that the passing was a fair indication of how the political


animal was behaving. We see this again withhold Hollande, he's a man


who has been vacilating all his life in his private life. He has never


been able to marry anyone of his partners, not even the mother of his


children, with whom he lived for 23 years. He didn't marry Miss


Trierweiler, we don't know about the next person. But in the same way he


has vacilated between several strains of policy, he has vacilated


about taxes, if people squealed enough in the street he withdrew the


taxes. He has basically taken off any kind of visibility to the French


economy. I think that too is a very straight parallel with his private


life. I think only for that, there are other reasons, but only for that


I would say we ought to know about their private lives. Why do the


French have this belief that a private life must stay private in a


public figure? Well you see the French do not like prying, they do


not like prying in their private lives. They don't like prying in


their bank accounts and this is this habit of considering that people


that do not have mistresses are not successful in politics, this is what


my diplomat friend was telling me this morning. He said two French


politicians did not have mistress, they were not re-elected. The last


one who was a Prime Minister and the other one was LouisXVI, who met the


guillotine. The argument of course is that the way a person behaves in


their private life, whether they honour their marriage vows or make


marriage vows are very often indicative of how they will behave


in their public life and therefore whether the public can trust them.


Why do you disregard that argument? You see it is not totally


disregarded. I think there is a lot which is true in what Anne Elizabeth


said. But in any country in the world the story of a man getting


caught with his pants down is funny. It is all the funnier except in


North Korea perhaps if this man is the President. But at the same time


the only thing that is not down at the moment in France is


unemployment. So after trying to get one of those pictures which are very


hard to get, I can tell you, I confessed to trying to buy the


magazine, it was impossible to find one. You know on a double-take the


French rather go to the core of the problems, that is the economy, that


is doing very bad. President Hollande had daringly promised that


it would be able to reverse the upward trend offen employment last


year and it just didn't happen. Anne Elizabeth Moutet there is the


question of the French press in all of this. Why are the French press so


deferential. That goes back to de Gaulle and before that. It goes back


to Louis XVI. If you really want to go into historical, when Louis Vi is


there and the monarchy takes over. On the one hand you have an Monarch


and oligarchy on the other. There is a strong tradition. This is the


whole negotiation about the establishment -- notion about the


establish the. The French are confirmist, newspapers write things


they think will be respectable. You notice that none of them sell many


copies, but Closer magazine sold out a first print run and they printed


again and they sold out the second print run. I take issue that the


French are not interested in the private life of their politicians,


the truth is they are fascinated by it. The truth is when it was


Mitterrand's daughter everybody was talking about it, in this case


everybody it talking about this. They have a two-faced attitude to


it. They judged Sarkozy because of his private life and they will judge


Mr Hollande for his private life. Thank you both very much. We have to


move on. Now it has taken four years but at last inflation has now


reached the Bank of England's target for the first time since November


2009, it is running at 2%. Lower than many predictions which led the


Chancellor of the Exchequer today to claim that his plan for the economy


is working. Labour replied there was still a cost of living crisis, but


if inflation stays low and the economy keeping growing, could


people start to feel differently. Cost of living crisis, what crisis?


The scourge of inflation has been stamped out. If it is only 2%, why


don't we feel better? You know the answer, wages are rising by less


than half that. For more than 30 years the debate about inflation has


been dominated by what the older generation think they remember about


the 1970s. With prices rising by 10-20%, the cost of living became


unaffordable and we all got worse off, right? Wrong, back in the 70s


prices may have risen, but what also gets forgotten is wages were rising


even faster. Take 1975 when prices rose by 25%, in that year household


disposable income still grew in real terms. In the middle of out of


control inflation we were still getting better off. Stripping out


inflation, in the 1970s we got better off on average by one. 2% a


year. In the 1980s incomes went up by two. 2%, in the 1990s by one. 3%


and in the noughties by one. 3%. It is only since then that the average


income started to fall in real terms, and it has fallen fastest,


not in the recession but the recovery. Why if we are in recovery


aren't we claiming higher pay rises. For the last five years we have been


through a difficult economic situation and a lot of people seem


to have been prepared to accept lower pay to help secure their job.


But if we look what is happening in the last year now employment is


growing, the economy is more obviously growing, so I think people


will feel more secure in going forward and saying I think we need a


pay rise. What will be interesting is, as we get through 2014, as a


real wages start to rise again, but real wage growth remains


historically very weak, does that change debate. Not all employers say


they can't afford bigger wage rises, however companies have built up a


pile of cash worth ?671. With prices rising faster than wages, they have


been getting more in for the goods they sell and paying out less for


staff. Why can't they spend it on bigger pay rises. The cash belongs


to shareholders and they expect it to be invested for a return. Those


workers need to be more productive, using more up-to-date technology.


Delivering new products and services, in order to generate a


bigger return for the business. Higher wages flow from productivity


growth. But yes, after several pretty flat years, in which living


standards have declined, if we now have the prospect of keeping


inflation at 2%, and skill shortages and pressure in the labour market


allows workers to earn more value by being more productive then wages


should modestly grow this year. The other thing that gets forgotten


about, the big wages of the 1970s is if you are in debt they did you a


big favour. Your wages would go up with inflation, but the amount you


owed wouldn't. Inflation makes your debts shrink. Not Take That is


relevant -- not that that is relevant now. Companies charged


higher prices and then workers want higher pay, but with pay claims as


meek as they are there is little danger of that.


To discuss this is Margaret Doyle formerly of the Economist and now


head of financial services research from Deloittes UK, we are joined


from Dartmouth College by a former member of the monetary policies


committee for the Bank of England. George Osborne says this inflation


figure proves his economic strategy is working, does it? Not really,


inflation is falling everywhere the world. It is in America and zero. 8%


in the eurozone. It is hard to say worldwide inflation is driven by


Osbourne's policies. We have seen real wages continuing to fall and


actually nominal wages, that is how much you get in your pay packet over


the last few months as been falling as well. Wages have been falling, it


doesn't look like much of a success. The man and woman in the middle is


worse off than they were in 2010 and six months ago. Not much indication


there. Why is it that wages aren't rising to keep pace with inflation?


I think it is really because we have had a huge downturn. That really


explains why wages haven't been rising as fast as inflation. And


effectively what has been happening is workers have chosen to accept


these real-term wage cuts, to accept changes in their working conditions.


For example we have seen things like zero hours contracts. And the


bargain that they have struck is that effectively it is better to


have a job although with lower real wages than it is to be unemployed.


And I would argue that for the economy as a whole it is better for


the economy as a whole to have lower unemployment. The surprise of the


recession has been that employment has held up remarkably well. But it


does mean that people are not feeling that things are getting


better? Exactly. People have not felt that things have been getting


better. Because for them they haven't been getting any better?


They haven't been, but certainly my colleague will tell you that real


wages will begin to increase in 2014, because inflation is coming


down, tax rises are on hold. We have had tax rises there on hold. And


earnings are going to and likely to increase for a variety of reasons,


partly because the economy is improving. Do you think that is


going to happen? I think that's really quite wishful thinking. If


you look at the Government's forecast and the OBR's forecast,


each forecast they have made they have said don't worry, real wages


will start to grow. The thing you have to ask yourself is what is


different today. The answer is really very little. If you look at


the example now, the UK starts to look like the US, and today real


wages in the US are the same as they were in 1979. Here we are in this


noble world, unions have -- global world, unions have gone, pressure


down with global forces because firms can go somewhere else,


migrants have come in. This is dream world not least because public


sector still has a pay freeze going. This is wishful thinking again. It


hasn't happened until now. What you have to ask yourself is what has


suddenly changed? The answer is little or nothing. In that case we


may well have reached the end, may we not, of a period of pretty


consistently rising standards of living? I think that's probably


right. We have seen people's standards of living rise at the top


end. The difference in a sense between the UK and the US and we


were saying this in your commentary earlier was up to 008 we saw


positive real wage growth for all the people in work. Because in the


past recessions 10% of the people were unemployed all the time and


everybody else was not unemployed and kept nice high wage growth, now


everybody is in this, and it may well be that the person at the


middle, the one that Ed Miliband has been talking about, the squeezed


middle, the medium voter, there is every prospect of no real wage


growth and certainly not between now and May 2015. I think it is wishful


thinking and it would be wonderful but there is no evidence in the date


Take That is -- data That is going to happen. There are signs that


recruitment is on the rise. That is likely to push up wages. Our latest


survey of chief financial and finance directors shows there is


increasing confidence. That is likely to be a leading indicator of


mergers and acquisitions, of hiring and general expansion which is


generally good for employment numbers. But as regards wage levels?


Well, if employment goes up typically wage levels follow. So we


do expect that real wages will rise this year. The professor is right to


say that there has been a global trend towards an increasing share in


profit and decreasing share of wages in the global economy over the past


30 years. That is right and not driven by particular policy


decisions in any country. What it is driven by huge forces like


globalisation and technological progress, like the decline of the


union. That is definitely a trend. We have also seen that there has


been a change in the distribution of income away from those lower skilled


towards the elite, those who are very well educated. I wanted to ask


you one other question, and I'm springing this on you, you won't


know about this speech or maybe you do know about the speech that Ed


Miliband is supposed to make later in the week, in which he is


proposing to restrict the big five banks and there by to the number of


branches they have, and market capitalisation or something or


other, some how to encourage competition from smaller offshoots


by making them shed parts of their business. Is that a goer? You sprung


that one on me. I haven't actually seen the details. But could try.


Obviously we need to get money flowing to people. Not least, and I


think you and I have talked about this before. How can we actually


expect workers' wages to lies, when small firms that are the job


generators in the economy can't get access to cash, can't get loans,


this seems like wishful thinking. But any attempt to try to


restructure the economy, get things to change and try to get help if you


like to the person in the middle. What we just heard was that things


were going to change but probably what they are going to do is change


for people at the top. They have had a tax cut, we have seen people at


the high end doing well, the question through all of this is


let's folk cuss on the average audience of Newsnight. What's going


to happen to them. If Ed Miliband can start to think about how you


helped the squeezed middle, good for him. Do you want to say anything? As


it happens the tax share borne by the very top earners has increased


in the last few years by a quarter. It is the case that those at the top


end have been taxed more. If you belong to that select


minority of Newsnight viewers who have no chauffeur, take heart! The


car which requires no driver is almost reality. This of course is


pretty bad news if you happen to work as a chauffeur, but those who


say autonomous automobiles will never happen are beginning to look


like the people who said there was no future in the horseless carriage.


Our technology correspondent can prove it.


Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is a pretty special


experience, but let's be honest most of the time life looks nothing like


the car adverts. Being behind the wheel is often just boring


stop-start frustration. There has to be a better way. Of course a truly


autonomous car won't be just one technology, it is a whole range of


different jobs that the car is going to have to take over from the driver


before we can leave them to run themselves. For example, Audrey is


one of a number ash Audi is one of a number of manufacturers getting cars


to park themselves. If you look over there it is a tight space. I take


out my smartphone and the car should start parking itself. And what's


going on here is not, there is nothing special in the road, there


is nothing special in the parking space, all the technology necessary


for this is in the car. It is a bit of a tight one, it will have to make


a number of manoeuvres. There we go, the car is parked and everyone's


paint work is intact and I'm not stressed about it. All the big


manufacturers are in the race, the prize is potentially huge. This is


BMW's latest effort. Polling suggests drivers want the technology


as well. Firstly it is going to be a lot safer. Computers don't doze off,


lose concentration, start fiddling with their phones or shout at their


kids. We can't accept any more that every day the equivalent of


aeroplane crashing down of people die in traffic fatalities. These


technologies can help us use this and utilise the road infrastructure


that we have today because cars can drive closer together. Ford are


developing a system where cars can communicate with each other using


Wi-Fi to prevent collision. The range is up to 250ms. There is a bad


driver coming that way, our line of sight is obstructed by the truck,


but the car, this car will get a communication from that car saying


it will steam through. The vibrations have come the brakes


go on, the audible signal you heard, we come to a safe stop, even though


we couldn't really see that car until the last possible moment. The


idea of you know a computer driver or a human driver is that the more


information we can give them from better sensor technology the better


either a human driver can make decisions about what to do or a


computer driver could. When cars first arrived on the scene people


could only describe them in terms of what they lacked. They didn't have


horses, therefore they were horseless carriages. And yet the


social and environmental changes that the car brought went far beyond


just getting rid of horses. Likewise at the moment we are rather fixated


on driverlessness of autonomous vehicles and yet the changes that


are going to happen go far beyond liberating us from being behind the


wheel. The The technology to have self-driving cars is just the


beginning, the real implications is how to save money and how business


models will change. If I don't have to own a vehicle to have access to


transportation and I can get it on demand from an autonomous vehicle


that comes and picks me up and drops me off I save a lot of money as a


consumer. Insurance companies might change the way they ask you to pay


for premiums. Instead of paying an annual premium you only pay for it


when you use the vehicle. That could have huge implications for consumers


and costs associated with vehicle ownership. I could do Angela Merkel


and go like this. That is what she always does. Hands-free, look mum.


Look mum no hands, and hopefully "look mum no teeth". It is a way


off, on the Nevada freeway Audi show me their traffic system. In


slow-moving traffic the car will take over everything, but the driver


has to be ready to step in if conditions change. This is the


project lead e he says we need to be realistic about how safe these


technologies can make driving. LLOW We have to ask ourselves if we are


OK with a technology that is safer than the car in status quo but not


100% safe. Personally I think I would much rather save 90% of the


people that are hurt today and maybe still hurt 10% because I can't help


it, technologically. Then just don't put that technology in the market at


all because it is still going to, it is still not going to be able to


prevent all accidents. So how long until everyone can do


this, five, ten, twenty years, the hurdles are both technological and


legal. For me though, it can't come soon enough.


That's it for now, the great piano improviser, Sehrt Keith Jarrett has


been named as Jazz Master, we leave you in his prime playing in Tokyo in


1993. Good night. Hello, sunshine will be collector's


item tomorrow


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