[ExI] Will robot cars be TOO good?

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 25 17:30:26 UTC 2012


I've been thinking about this for quite some time now.  As a
consequence I have had a series of epiphanies.

First, maybe as much as ten years ago, I foresaw the advent of the
smart phone, but because the term "phone" is legacy terminology from
the era when a phone was just a phone, I disposed of it and referred
to my gadget as a "net link".

Unaware and unconcerned of other possible "apps", my interest was
focused on a cooperative transportation system -- basically
computerized car pooling.  Lots of folks and their cars on the system,
and when you want to go somewhere, you tell the system where you want
to go and when you want to get there, and if you're not taking your
own vehicle, then the system finds the car for you -- the nearest one
going, in a timely manner nearest your destination -- and directs that
vehicle to stop and pick you up.

Okay, so far so good.

Accompanying this thought stream was the legacy concept called the
"smart road".  You understand: the roadway all wired up and sensored
up and computerized and "smartly" directing the traffic flow.  But
then I realized something.  Something at the time rather striking: the
smart road was unnecessary. (You may disagree -- I almost hope you
will -- and point out some factor which only the smart road can
provide, thus showing it to be necessary.  Please, help out in that

The smart road is unnecessary because the smart car can do everything
the smart road can do.  The "smart road" functionality can be in the
cars rather than the road.  The smart road is redundant.  All the
smart cars with **their** sensors and networked dynamic database
become the smart road.

And then another epiphany, which brings me to where I am today.  With
the exception of the sensors, the smart car too, is unnecessary.  The
once "smart car" is now just a big dumb sensor platform,.....because
the smartness of the system resides not in the car but entirely in the
larger data base to which one's personal "net link, with it's
dedicated local smartness -- or as we now know it: smart phone -- is

Your smart phone would of course be linked wirelessly to your
now-not-quite-so-smart car(not to mention everything else).

At which point, the "everything else" progression leads inevitably to
a somewhat annoying "Well, duh!" moment.  "It's the "smart world",

Smart house, smart car, smart world, smart life, all of it arising
from the organizational capabilities of the collective distributed
applications and database of global, shared, non-private data.

That was fun!  Boy do I ever love technology.

Best, Jeff Davis

    "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                              Ray Charles

On Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 1:01 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> Robot Car Intersections Are Terrifyingly Efficient
> <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/robot-car-intersections-are-terrifyingly-efficient>
> Quote:
> Last time we put our life in the hands of a robot car, it managed to
> park itself without crashing or abducting us. Robot cars also know how
> to drive like maniacs, and even how to powerslide. These are all very
> neat tricks -- tricks that might save your life one day. But what's
> going to happen when all cars are this talented? Efficiency. Scary,
> scary efficiency.
> It's not just the sensor-driven skills that will soon be common to
> individual cars that will shape the future of automotive
> transportation, but also the ability for cars to communicate with each
> other, sharing constant updates about exactly where they are and where
> they're going. And with enough detailed information being shared at a
> fast enough pace between all vehicles on the road, things like traffic
> lights become completely redundant:
> Watch video demo.
> --------------
> Robot cars may have to have the windows blacked out to stop the
> passengers screaming for them to 'SLOW DOWN!'.
> BillK
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