"I DON’T ever want to learn to drive, Mummy," my daughter said to me last week.

I can see her clinging to the seat sometimes when I’m driving down the motorway. "Slow down," she says.

It’s like having my very own guilt-trip Gatso in the back seat.

But if the car manufacturers are believed, she’ll never have to learn to drive. That’s one less thing for me to stay up late worrying about when she’s older.

It’s estimated that by 2025 we could have fully autonomous self-driving cars on the road. To be honest, I’d happily take the train everywhere if it didn’t involve selling a kidney to afford a ticket.

So, the alternative of the future is to programme a car to come to my house and chaffeur me around. I think I can live with that.

Although, if autonomous cars are pooled, I feel sorry for whoever has it after my family, having to pick squashed grapes and peel smeared, melted chocolate off the upholstery.

What’s fascinating are the complex ethical algorithms which are being programmed into these robotic cars.

It’s almost a first giant step towards human consciousness in machines – the stuff of science fiction. These cars will have to make spur-of-the-moment ethical decisions which have to be carefully programmed into their computers.

It’s a process which has seen philosophers involved with the car manufacturers – possibly for the first time ever – in deciding which the greater or lesser evil is in seemingly no-win situations. The industry has glossed over these ethical dilemmas somewhat, but the kinds of conversations going on behind closed doors include whether to hit an animal which dashes into the street, increasing the possibility of colliding with a vehicle.

And there’s the age-old philosophical “trolley problem”, which is a no-win hypothetical situation in which a runaway trolley could either be allowed to hit a group of people or, by pulling a lever, divert it, killing somebody else.

There will be situations when a self-drive car computer will have to decide between hitting one group of pedestrians on its original course, or swerving to hit a different group, and the wrong programming could spell disaster.

And who really would feel comfortable in stepping into a vehicle which is programmed to kill the driver and passengers inside the car, rather than a crowd of people outside, all for the greater good?

Of course, these machines will be much more sophisticated and able to make snap judgements than human drivers. It’s estimated that, ethical dilemmas aside, selfdriving cars could save thousands of lives a year. A relief for parents everywhere.

The Northern Echo:

DARLINGTON’S Cllr Nick Wallis, pictured above, and his fellow Haughton ward councillors Chris McEwan and Andy Scott are launching an initiative to encourage their residents to move more and eat more healthily.

Given the stick Cllr Wallis has been given over the library closure and cuts to street cleaning, perhaps he can kill two birds with one stone and launch a Wheelie Bin Workout with Wallis DVD? Ten laps of the library pushing a wheelie-bin, litter-picking on the way.