self-driving cars? Now I Understand

Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser

What’s so enticing about the (just-around-the corner) self-driving cars?

In view of my slightly advanced age, I may be forgiven to be a bit slow in learning — but now I understand: It’s all about what happens in the back seat! cars

As the Globe and Mail reports, Kirk, of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, told the Canadian Press on Monday that “… once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars.” Another (biased ?) pundit, Sergio Marchionne, is claimed to have stated that the new system “… will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”

Really, it’s a no-brainer. If people have hours of spare time while cruising along the highway, the mind wonders and the feelings can too…

Coming to think of it, the new technology may also spur the revival of an age-old tradition, namely hitchhiking.

Hitchhiking

In my earlier years, I experienced both sides of that way of traveling, never in a bad way either in Europe or on this continent. You may call it a pre-“Uber”-way of traveling. But now, the term hitchhiking may get an entirely new connotation.

It’s no longer about where you want to be going but how you’ll get there. If you need any proof, just look at the latest self-driving-car stocks. Some have valuations beyond belief; they too appear to be self-driving.

Clearly, there must be unaccounted-for benefits in hitchhiking – or driverless car technology, the opinions are divided. Some think it will make all grid-lock go away, others claim that exactly the opposite will happen. Who am I to predict what will be the case? But one thing ought to be certain: Being a traffic cop will come with entirely new experiences. That, I can guarantee!

Looking further afield, you may wonder as to what other benefits the new technology may provide to you; well, who knows?

Other Benefits

Again, answering that question is a no-brainer. For example, even folks that are deemed to be legally blind may now become “drivers” of such “autonomous” cars. Indeed, it may well help these poor disabled persons to visit their friends or simply “go shopping.” Similar benefits would likely accrue to other segments of society whose mobility is currently limited by physical abilities to drive a car.

Mobility is a key to life. Once you make your first steps in life, everything changes. Once you figure out how to keep balance on a bicycle, yet another order of magnitude in mobility opens up. For people that are physically handicapped, it may come as a godsend – if the “driverless cars” ever get to that stage.

As of now, at least in this neck of the woods, conflicting rules or laws are making everything more difficult. I think that I’m busy enough already as it is. In fact, I had to put Ashley on hold, just to keep up with all my emails. And I’m not even on any of the “must-be” social sites that everyone says are de rigueur.

However, if you are more of a conversational type person, Google is experimenting with a more conversational artificial intelligence (AI) system to fulfill your backseat driver ambitions. As Buzzfeed reports, Google is training its AI computer with readings from romance novels such as Unconditional Love, Ignited, Fatal Desire, and the like. Is it too far-fetched to think that some passengers may just want the car to go around the block a few more times? That, of course, would probably lead to unintended consequences coming of that technology, like more, not less road congestion.

Also, builders of the mostly “dock-side” floating staterooms – sailing yachts – may find their business slowing down. Who needs an expensive yacht when there all kinds of competitive alternatives?

Perhaps the (still futuristic) autonomous cars will give me some reprieve too – what do you think? Well then Elon, get going. What’s the hold-up? After all, electricity has been “invented” well over 200 years ago (Franklin, Priestley, Volt, and many others) and electric cars were known already in the late 1800’s. I just can’t see what’s so revolutionary with this vehicle technology now – except for the novel “back seat comfort.”

Is that why there is such a pre-production demand for these things?

I think that I’m beginning to understand – finally.