The General Motors’ image of a two-passenger, no-driver car overlooking the San Francisco skyline isn’t what it seems. Rather, it is what it does to people.
Even the semi-smart people running GM know that no market-dominant car would look like that. Self-driving cars would have a much more comfortable interior. The image merely implies a car with all passengers and no driver. That’s it.
Leo gave us the ides a few years back in his movie Inception. The idea has been introduced to the masses. The test is not so much the notion of governments making the slue of exceptions to allow GM to turn the public roads my mother drives on into giant rat labs. The real test was how the public will respond. Whatever objections show up, expect a well-propagated rebuttal from GM propaganda in the near future.
Of course the self-driving car has two incredibly obvious problems. It doesn’t say anything about anyone’s personal character to identify them: 1. What happens when an AI takes over (such as VIKI from Will’s I, Robot)? 2. What happens when the self-driving software crashes and causes the car to crash? Are they planning to use Windows as the software platform? I hope not. That would give the “blue screen of death” a more literal meaning.
Everything that works breaks. But, GM knows that we know that they know that.
My point: Don’t be alarmed. Self-driving cars will always need some kind of steering mechanism, at least like in Will’s 2035 Audi did. If a mechanic has to fix it, he’ll need to move it somewhere. Every automated device has an override. Real, market-ready cars just can’t actually be designed how that GM picture wants us to think it is. If nothing else, there’s a well-disguised steering wheel in the dash.
The picture was supposed to enrage the public, kind of like Trump’s Tweets. By getting us all ruffled-up, we’ll start talking about it. I guess GM won this one. You’ve read this far, after all. So, let’s talk…
In fairness, think of how much more free time we’d have not having to pilot our personal commutes. Any self-driving car should operate on rails. The “rails” could be magnetic or a kind of electronic “trolley” rail embedded into normal streets and roads. Painted lines and GPS just won’t cut it. No AI is ready to navigate the real world at this point—in 2035 maybe.