Latest Reader Question (Dec. 13, 2017)

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Here is the latest reader Question, along with my Reply:

Peter asks: You question the functionality of automatic cars and question their ability to make “split second” decisions. What is the result when a “split second” decision for a person, takes an eternity in computer time?

My reply: I might sprinkle when I tinkle – but I’d rather hold my own dick, regardless.

Computers react based on programming; they do not think – as humans are capable of doing. Cannot evaluate factors outside their programming. Many examples come to mind, but here’s an obvious one off the top of my head:

There is a dog in the road – and child on the sidewalk. A human can tell the difference; a computer sees an “object” in the vehicle’s path. The human would make a value judgment and hit the dog in order to avoid hitting the child. The computer would swerve to avoid the “object” in the vehicle’s path, very possibly resulting in the death of the child.

Or:

You find yourself stuck behind a very slow moving vehicle. You can see that you have just enough time to make a quick pass – illegal, but perfectly safe – if you floor the accelerator right now. The automated car would simply react to the slow moving vehicle by reducing its speed to match.

You know that about a mile ahead, there’s an uphill grade that is very challenging in winter. You know this because you have lived there for years and have personal experience with this road. It’s a snowy day, so you speed up to build momentum and speed in order to get your car up the grade. You’ve done this many times before and know you can do it safely.

The automated, computer-controlled car would decide it’s not “safe” to proceed – and you’d never get home.

The broader point is that computers are not infallible. Neither are humans, of course. But I’d prefer to trust my own judgment – and my own skill – rather than be controlled by a computer programmed by bureaucrats and politicians.

Automated car technology is ultimately a kind of Band Aid to deal with dumbed-down drivers. I’d rather better driving be encouraged than further dumbing down.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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