Artificial Intelligence Post Number 17

I am surprised at the lack of comments on my last post about Apple, Google, and Tesla. Am I the only one that sees that this is just the beginning of a remarkable and disruptive transition of automobiles in the US and eventually the world? Don’t others see that almost certainly our current concept of automobiles will be totally replaced by electric cars or pods that autonomously take people to their destinations with no driver involvement? The pods will be available in 10 to 15 years, and it will take another 20 years to transition to a total pod environment. Traditional cars that must be driven by a person will be taken off the road.

No one will be able to stop this transition any more than they were able to stop the transition from horses to cars. Safety alone will push this, not to mention effective time utilization currently wasted, at least by the driver, in getting from one place to another. Some pods will be owned by individuals, but many will be used as needed with people only paying for time/distance used. Pods will arrive at your beck and call!

The trio of Apple, Google, and Tesla makes this a given. The talent, innovativeness, and bankroll of these companies are almost insurmountable. All of these companies have already committed billions of dollars, and enough success has already been demonstrated that it is unimaginable that this will not happen. Will they work together on this? I think that as a minimum they will want to utilize the Tesla charging stations; just broaden their availability. They may also want to use the Tesla battery design, especially given that it appears that costs may be cut perhaps 50% in a few years.

The control of all these electric pods will be mind-boggling, certainly stretching the limits of non-thinking AI and computer power. Maps will be continuously updated using each pod as a surveyor of current road conditions/availability, feeding this info back to a central computer. This will be combined with advanced GPS that will be able to locate a car’s position within less than a foot. Besides each car monitoring its own safety with all its own sensors, huge area-computers will continuously track each vehicle on a grid. This will enable rerouting of traffic if a road segment is shut down or if there is bad weather or an accident.


10 Responses to “Artificial Intelligence Post Number 17”

  1. GregB Says:

    Hi Warren. Glad you’re back writing!

    While I believe you’re correct in the technological abilities we will have in 15 years, I think you MAY be underestimating a more complicated problem: human nature!

    I don’t think people will WANT to give up their autonomous driving machines. While not exactly the same, we’ve had bus and train technologies for centuries, and people still want their cars— even when it’s cheaper to take the other means of transportation.

    That, I think, will be the greatest hurdle to the future you outline.

    • wbrussee Says:

      GregB says, “I don’t think people will WANT to give up their … driving machines.”

      You are right. They won’t want to. But let’s look at the limited experience Google has with their self-driving cars. Since 2009, the cars have been involved with 16 crashes. In all cases a human has been at fault. I would expect the same thing once self-driving cars get on the market, which at the most is probably 5 years. So, every time they get into an accident here will be a study on the cause. At what point will the owners of self-driving cars start to sue drivers of regular cars for more than normal damages (the second-hand smoke argument), and at what point will the government step in as they did with seat belts and air bags. As I stated in an earlier update, the costs of deaths, injuries, and property damages are over $300 billion (or 2/3 our annual US deficit). We won’t let that go on when the solution is evident. Gun owners can use the 2nd amendment to justify killing with their guns. No such amendment is available for drivers to kill with their cars!

      So, how disruptive will this be? Here is brief list of industries that will be dramatically affected once we convert to self-driving cars.

      Gas stations
      Car body repair shops
      Emergency rooms
      Oil companies, refineries, etc.
      Airlines (fewer people will take short flights)
      Car insurance companies
      Car manufacturers (those that don’t convert to electric)
      Solar panel manufacturers and installers (people will want solar to charge their autos)
      Taxi companies
      Parking lots (less need if using on-demand pods)

  2. Raptor0017 Says:

    We are living in disruptive times. Changes are happening faster and faster every day. I remember when I bought my first CD player back in 1985 and I told my friends that the CD would replace the LP in a few years. Wow, that happened faster than I thought. We have experienced many similar changes and at the beginning people always say “that’s impossible!” Wrong. Everything is possible.

  3. Oliver Holzfield Says:

    “Gun owners can use the 2nd amendment to justify killing with their guns.” Yawn! Haven’t killed anyone/thing with mine, darn thing must be defective! Oh, and all of the killing that’s done? It’s done overwhelmingly by a certain segment of the population, and you know exactly who that is. FBI has great stats, you like stats right?

  4. wbrussee Says:

    Oliver Holzfield says, related to guns, “Yawn! Haven’t killed anyone/thing with mine.”

    Okay, the devil made me do it! We have all read the argument against gun control: “guns don’t kill; people do.” Yawn! And the declaration that if guns should be outlawed, so should cars, because cars kill people too!

    Now, here we are looking at the not so distant future where driver-controlled cars will indeed be outlawed. And I am sure that some drivers will claim that we should only outlaw them for those segments of society that misuse their driving freedom. After all, cars don’t kill, drivers do!

    • GregB Says:

      I think everyone’s missing the point of the Second Amendment, which was an attempt to protect the individual from the STATE. That’s still the point. It was never about hunting, or about protecting yourself from other individuals or target shooting. Guns are not equivalent to cars in any way.

      Making such a snide comparison really hurts your argument here, Warren.

  5. Bob K Says:

    Do you really think driver-controlled cars will be outlawed? That is hard to imagine. I just think the cost of self-driving cars will be out of sight compared to the ease and lower insurance costs of using self-driving cars or UBER like services with self-driving cars. I know I will buy one or use the UBER service. Why should we outlaw them?

    • wbrussee Says:

      Driver controlled cars will have to be outlawed to get much of the benefit of autonomous cars. Individuals driving haphazardly through the autonomous traffic will cause the automatic cars to constantly be reacting (braking, swerving) and make the experience both uncomfortable and dangerous. To get a truly smooth (and safe) traffic flow, all cars will have to follow pretty much the same rules. And those will be the rules programmed into the autonomous cars.

      There is the cowboy in many drivers that will still want 400 horsepower gas cars to do the macho thing. Maybe they will still be able to own them, but driving will be restricted to a few highways with limited access.

      This doesn’t mean that cars will not still have individual character. Can you imagine the amount of leather Cadillac and Mercedes will load into their autonomous vehicles? How about the sound systems and number of cup holders?

  6. Bob K Says:

    Opps! Let me try again.

    Do you really think driver-controlled cars will be outlawed? That is hard to imagine. I just think the cost of driver-controlled cars will be out of sight compared to the ease and lower insurance costs of using self-driving cars or UBER like services with self-driving cars. I know I will buy one or better yet use the UBER service. Why should we outlaw driver controlled cars? Let the market control the results.

  7. Oliver Holzfield Says:

    “Do you really think driver-controlled cars will be outlawed? That is hard to imagine.” Couldn’t agree more, this is rank speculation. The ACLU currently defends the right of completely insane people’s “right” to not take medication or be hospitalized! City streets are crawling with nutters, some quite capable of violence. Do you expect me to believe, that Jay Leno will be forbidden by law to drive his classic cars collection!? Even if he has a perfect/near perfect driving record? I can see people with records of DUI’s, elderly people, and those with aggressive/reckless driving histories being confined to self driving cars, but not the average person.

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