Dude, Where’s All Our Cars?

(Almost-Dr.) Graham puts on a professional hat and speculates …

Kids of 2017 will never get to drive a car, at least according to a leading roboticist. What could this mean, to them and the rest of us?


Deeper implications to that - than immediately apparent. Developmentally,  driving a car might have been the first experience a youth had of performing simultaneous tasks requiring a lot of practice to transfer to muscle/automatic memory. Does the now-common experience of simultaneously doing homework (hah!), watching streaming video,  and chatting online make up for that?

Wait,  though,  there’s more…

If the point of owning a car is having your transportation right there when you want it,  and you know it will be,  why own a vehicle? Why make space for it on the same property as the house –  or why not let someone else do that? And if all that potential/actual space is suddenly freed up –  often as much as half the size of the house – what does that do for rental availability,  housing stock,  and land values?

If you don’t actually have to “drive,” will you choose to travel further in a car-like vehicle,  maybe like a  small RV, instead of taking a short flight?

And lastly,  when the car drives itself,  presumably from A to B, what happens to the great tradition of the back seat? And how will that affect the teen pregnancy and birth rate in,  say,  small rural towns? Let alone the potential for alien encounters…

Really last of all,  what happens when your car is hacked?

John takes it one step further

Your self-driving car is in a possible head on possible with another car. Your ‘life estimator’ suggests that there is  95% chance that you will die in the crash. To reduce those odds, the car can swerve to miss the other car - but will end up sideswiping another car - which will cause the death of three children. Further, each child’s life is insured for $1million, your insurance is covered, no additional cost to you.

You do nothing, the app takes control, based on pre-set parameters decision criteria that are embedded in your personal safety system. As a result, your car swerves, your death is avoided and the insurance to the families of the three children is paid, no cost to you.

All of this calculated n a split second in your car’s ‘strategic impact avoidance system’ embedded in the computers of your new state of the art autonomous car.

January 8, 2017