GorT came across a brief post by Seth Godin regarding autonomous cars and tends to agree with his broad assessment. His summary:
Self-driving cars are going to be a huge transformational disruption, and they’re probably going to happen faster than most people expect.
Yeah. I think that’s right. Look, many people are going to fight it and for various reasons. GorT isn’t even sold on liking it, I just think it’s going to happen. For example, you have the car enthusiasts who want the “freedom” to drive. There might be some option created where that is allowed, but maybe in more rural or less congested areas. You’ll have the safety people thinking that computer controlled cars won’t be safe. The most compelling might be the privacy crowd as the real benefit will come when cars can autonomously “talk” to each other.
There really is a bottom line as to why Google and other companies are looking into it: data. The data that could be collected from the cars, passenger ids (for anti-theft / authorized usage) and travel patterns would be huge. Toss in there the ability to market those passengers and it becomes even more enticing.
Seth gives a few reasons why this is a no-brainer:
- Few traffic jams–cars will have a slower top speed, but rarely stop
- No traffic lights–cars talk to each other
- Dramatically less pollution
- Pedestrians are far safer, bicycling becomes fun again
- No parking issues–the car drives away and comes back when you need it
- Lower costs and more access for more people more often
- Instant and efficient carpooling, since the car knows who’s going where
Now, I think Seth gets some things wrong. For example, he states, “Understand, for example, that the suburb exists because of the car, as does the big amusement park and the motel. All of them were built by people who saw the changes private mobility would cause.”
No. The suburb does exist because of the car. The suburb exists because people wanted more space and distance between themselves and their neighbors. They wanted some degree of privacy. The car serves as a means of getting there. One could argue that suburbs existed before cars – local farms, plantations, etc. were built out from cities so that they were close enough to sell their goods but far enough to support the land needed to grow their crops.
My guess is that there will be some dual-mode cars where in defined, congested areas or high-speed interstates, the cars will take over navigation to make it more efficient. And in local streets and rural areas, the freedom to navigate will still be in the driver’s hands. Of course, as this change takes place, the automotive industry as we know it will begin to change and companies that can’t keep up will and will need to fold. No bailouts. Evolve or go extinct.
Technology is going to bring the capability to bear soon – the real questions are when are the policies and social aspects going to catch up?
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.