Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

A different take on autonomous vehicles

Posted by Pete McBreen 02 Dec 2021 at 23:13

From Why We Drive by Matthew B. Crawford …

… the logical necessity of driverless cars becomes clear. It seems likely there will be real-time auctions to determine the route your Google car takes, so you can be offered empowering choices along the way. […] One marketer put it quite frankly: the goal is to intercept people in their daily routines with brand and promotional messages.

The book draws a distinction between the use of a car to get somewhere, and the pure joy of just going out for a drive. The creators of autonomous vehicles do not seem to be drawn from the population that enjoys going out for a drive down a twisty road.

The book also highlights the problem of incomplete features and systems

… We are not just daunted by by the obscure logic of such machines, but seem to feel ourselves responsible to them, afraid of being wrong in their presence, and therefore reluctant to challenge them even as the […] GPS directs us into a lake.

Many drivers of such vehicles even go as far as to defend these early attempts at making the technology work, thinking that it is acceptable for companies to test out their systems on public roads.

Systems designed to minimize the role of human intelligence tend to be brittle, as they are not able to anticipate every contingency. When they fail, their failures tend to be systemic, in proportion to the comprehensive reach of their control.

To date we have been lucky in that most times the driver has managed to react in time before the vehicle plows into a stationary object.