In the fifth of six heats, the SPJ House Debating Club discussed whether or not we should allow machines to drive cars. Beech proposed the motion, represented by Daniel Harden (U3W), Alp Karadogan (L3W) and Elijah Houtondji (U2N), while Oak opposed it, led by Thomas Homes (U3K), Aarav Kushagra (U2A) and Leo Walton (U3M).
Oak offered the largest number of valid reasons, leading us to picture endlessly circling empty cars with nowhere to park, easy prey to hackers, struggling with rural roads, creating job losses and suffering from weather-related communication difficulties. Aarav spoke well in his debut debate, Leo deployed humour well and rebutted floor points with skill, while Thomas really got to grips with points of information, offering and responding to these with confidence.
Beech, however, were also very persuasive, and all their speakers offered points of information, with Daniel doing so twice, and countering a challenge very well. Alp’s maiden speech was convincing, and Elijah addressed points from the floor. Their vision of a driverless car revolution was of course far more enabling and benign, offering safety, greater freedom for elderly drivers with mobility issues, new jobs for lawyers, consultants and programmers and a reduction in total vehicle numbers as cars could be shared, leaving our roads less clogged with parked cars that are idle for most of the time.
Members of the floor were very unsure at the start, with 2 in favour, 6 against and 5 abstentions, so Beech deserve praise for the massive swing to 9 in favour, 7 against and no abstentions by the end (as some joined just after the first vote), although in House Debating rules, floor votes do not contribute to marking.
Ash score 6 points for questions from the floor, thanks to Alex Read U3M, Henry Huang U3W, Enyu Hu U3T, Yusaf Hassan L3C, Mahin Mehta U3T and Oliver Goldberg L2C. Xander Gough L3E and Anuj Shukla L2G earned points for Beech; Dermot Christmas L3E, Aidan Wong L3Y, Tom Bonomini L2C and Thomas Barrett U3T spoke for Oak, while Alexander Khosrowpanah-Falcone (U2B) Fergus Walsh and Kynan Tallec-Botos L3W spoke for Thorn. The most pertinent points were Aidan’s, about the difficulty of getting international standards agreed, Alex Read’s requesting more information about the ‘platooning’ of driverless cars, and Fergus’ about ownership.
This was a difficult debate to judge: Oak had the best speeches, while Beech engaged more fully in the back-and-forth of debate, so it has to be the second draw of the season. Extra points go to Daniel Harden, Leo Walton and Thomas Homes for being best speakers.
Points are as follows: Ash 14, Beech 9, Oak 4, Thorn 3. Watch this space for the next report, which will also offer a summary of points from all heats 1-6 and name the two finalist houses.
Mrs Waller, Head of English
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