[ExI] Will robot cars be TOO good?

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sun Mar 25 19:42:42 UTC 2012

On Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM, Jeff Davis <jrd1415 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Friends,
> I've been thinking about this for quite some time now.  As a
> consequence I have had a series of epiphanies.

Me too. This should be a fun conversation.

> 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".

Certainly that makes sense. One possibility is that you don't allow
humans to drive unless they have a smart phone... er "net link" which
can communicate the irresponsible human driver's intentions to the
other robots. At least they might know from a GPS type function where
the driver is likely to go. That would be helpful. Even if they were
just driving their "normal routes" that would be something a GPS
enabled mobile computer would be able to communicate to other mobile
computers in the vicinity.

> 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.

Certainly this is not a new idea... but it is a very good one. You
would pay a "club membership fee" to be able to get into any car
whenever you wanted to. Kind of like a collective autonomous taxi

> 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
> manner.)

I don't think the smart road needs to be in the road itself. However,
there does need to be a centralized database about roads. This could
be thought of as a "smart road in the cloud"... and everything you
need to do would be there.

There might also be the necessity to have ground based GPS
transponders (if that's the right word) that increase the accuracy of
GPS from ground stations. Two or three of these per city using
bandwidth that goes through things better than actual GPS could also
be helpful to getting the system to work better. Other than that, I
think I'm with you. We don't need magnets embedded in the roads...
like we used to.

> 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
> networked.

I think more things than smart phones will be networked mobile
computers in the future. Every car will likely have build in Wifi type
devices, perhaps many of them, in the near future.

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

Perhaps, but why add something that ceases to work when the battery
dies? Just build it into the car and be done with it.

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

Oh yeah.

> 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.

I want a smart fridge that sends me the list of stuff I need while I'm
at Walmart. I want a smart trash can that keeps track of the UPS
symbol of everything I throw away, for similar use.

> That was fun!  Boy do I ever love technology.

Technology is a blast.


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