You Want to Do What???

I had a dream once that I was held prisoner in a car racing down the highway at extremely high speeds and there was no one behind the wheel. Ok, it was a nightmare. Good morning world, it may be true.

Put on your thinking cap for a moment and try to imagine how you would feel in this scenario:  you are driving down the highway at 100 kilometers (60 miles) an hour.  You casually glance to the truck on your right (or left) and realize there is no one behind the wheel. To those of you old enough to remember, this would feel like a Twilight Zone episode. It is not.

Some intrepid souls have decided that it would be cool for an 80,000-pound 18-wheel truck to barrel down the highway, or through your town, with nobody but electronics guiding its path. Not cool!

What started this mind meandering? I recently watched a news article about the future of long-haul trucking. There is a group of people that believe it would be beneficial to have those very large, very powerful trucks controlled by a microchip. A chip. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know my feelings on the concept of Artificial Intelligence. Not a fan. Let’s face it, we’re still trying to figure out our own intelligence, what gives us the hubris to think that we could mechanically create an artificial one? Does anyone remember Frankenstein?

We as human beings are fallible. Wonderful but fallible.  There is an idiot component to our psychological makeup that some people seem to embrace far too much. But we forgive their stupidity. We don’t try to eradicate this stupid gene, perhaps because we all have a small part of it within us. Let’s be honest, in our lives we’ve all done a few stupid things. Of course, I’m not going to admit to it and in my day there were no camera phones to document it. Thank goodness!

The concept of AI is appealing.  Think Star Trek.  As a tool, a resource, yes. Benevolent and under our control.  But running the whole show? It is a catch 22: People are corruptible and fallible; computers are hackable and emotionless. Neither is a perfect solution. A combination? Think Borg. Again, not a solution.  Here is a wild thought:  Let’s work on improving us, our minds, our skills, our cooperation.  Getting our products to market a little earlier is not worth the risk of becoming extinct. Or worse, redundant.

 

27 thoughts on “You Want to Do What???

  1. Dan Antion

    Whenever I think about self-driving cars and trucks (and we will be sharing the roads with them) I think of Star Trek. Even in the 24th century, they had people/androids at the helm. We’re also seeing right now, the effects of putting lots of people out of work. Cheaper to go business? Yes, but who’s buying the products?

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  2. floridaborne

    I’m right there with you when it comes to “self driving” vehicles. It seems more efficient to have trucks hauled to large cities by train and pay people to haul items to smaller towns from there. Unfortunately, large businesses aren’t concerned about helping people in their community remain employed. They want something that doesn’t need medical insurance, or demand more pay.

    If it were possible to become the 6 million dollar man or the bionic woman, there are people waiting for the chance to get new tech melded to their bodies. I can see limb replacement for people who have lost arms and legs, but I can’t see it intentionally being done just “because it can.”

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  3. delphini510

    I am still to meet someone who would accept AI driven cars. They would drive perfectly but the decisions needed in unpredictable situations makes it deadly.
    It has been tested in towns and proven unable to distinguish between a live being on the road or a car.
    AI are here though, we probably come across them ourselves in the computers without knowing it. They are going to be of great use within science, as superb tools.

    miriam

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  4. Murphy's Law

    Since human intelligence is far from perfect, why do any humans think they can create AI that is perfect? I don’t want to be in or on the road with a vehicle that is driven by AI. Too many variables to ever work efficiently/safely. If AI takes root, the whole world will be collecting unemployment!

    I’m with you Pam. We need to improve ourselves first, and then apply AI to certain areas where it can benefit mankind, not wipe us out.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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  5. oldmainer

    lol. Kind of a scary scenario isn’t it. And if there is an accident, how do you get them to pull over and exchange insurance. Then the insurance company gets involved and you get a letter explaining that the truck was using an aftermarket chip so it in fact was not one of their drivers. You will have to sue some electronic manufacturer. Just sayin.

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  6. John W. Howell

    As you well know, I share your doubts about AI. The all too logical and easiest remedy for world problems would be the elimination of the root cause. I don’t trust that the solution may not include allowing mankind to continue destroying the planet. Hmm, might make an interesting story sometime. Excellent post, Pam.

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  7. Sorryless

    So many frightening aspects to your scenario, not the least of which is the fact that a company that invests in such technology will be able to arm themselves with the best lawyers WHEN something goes horribly wrong.

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  8. John Hric

    Pam, Robot driven trucks and for that matter cars constitute a daymare for me. For starters who is authorized to issue a license for said vehicles. Major point of the devils advocate side of things – just who approved the ‘upgrade’ for the Boeing Max Jet fiasco ? Just how often do these autopilots be they truck, air transport, or individual vehicle have to be renewed ? And by that I mean thoroughly meticulously and painstakingly retested ? And please don’t say ‘why they never change.’ If you do I will proceed to re-introduce you to the Boeing Max Jet issue. And I have not gotten to my major objection.
    This is a simple economic equation. Companies used to say “our people are our most important resource.” This is still true except the companies don’t remember one of the reasons they used to say it. In the list of things of People vs Robots there are many Pros and Cons. The biggest two are people get paid and people buy stuff. Unless someone has re-written the rules of economy robots that don’t get paid don’t buy nothing. Robots don’t ride planes. Robots don’t vote. Robots don’t buy art, music, movies, and anything else that we market to people. Robots don’t do anything but work silently. Somebody whisper in the ears of those highly paid smart guys that we are steadily working to eliminate the people that buy their products. This might be a conundrum. Still it is one we need to start working on. Last time I checked we just might need consumers. Not robots.

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  9. Maggie Wilson

    Oh man, I know exactly what you mean about the anxiety and nightmarish quality when you think about driverless trucks.
    My hubby never fails to bring up the conversation when we are on the highway. Talk about double whammy. I can suppress my anxiety about highway driving up here – barely – the roads are relatively empty compared to Southern Ontario. But asking me to imagine driverless trucks and the potential for what could go wrong? Good grief! It’s IT and we all know how secure it is from hackers!

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  10. Emilie

    I know it can be useful to have self driving cars. I know a number of people with specific challenges who are unable to drive one reason or another. If cars could pick them up and drop them off at work, it would be incredible. But. Do I really, really want them on the road?

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