Google comes up with 4 wheel girl repellent
Good day all. For several years now, Google has been working on robot cars. To date they have wracked up something like 700,000 miles without an accident. However, those test cars all had someone sitting behind the wheel, just in case.
Also, these cars were generally modified standard cars anyone would drive today. Now, Google has decided to go the next step and has designed a new car that will not have a steering wheel, brakes and is absolutely guaranteed to make the fathers of teenage girls happy. Here are a few details from the New York Times:
For the past four years, Google has been working on self-driving cars with a mechanism to return control of the steering wheel to the driver in case of emergency. But Google’s brightest minds now say they can’t make that handoff work anytime soon. Their answer? Take the driver completely out of the driving.
Now, there is another problem with driverless cars. People do not trust them. I know I won’t trust one of these things anytime soon. What happens if there is some sort of failure and you need to take control? There is another issue I will go into later.
The company has begun building a fleet of 100 experimental electric-powered vehicles that will dispense with all the standard controls found in modern automobiles. The two-seat vehicle looks a bit like the ultracompact Fiat 500 or the Mercedes-Benz Smart car if you take out the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake and gear shift. The only things the driver controls is a red “e-stop” button for panic stops and a separate start button.
Yeah, right. Unless that big red button is a physical cutoff switch, I wouldn’t trust it at all. Now why would Google want to take control away from people?
In an interview at Google’s headquarters here, Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder who is actively involved in the research program, said the company decided to change the car project more than a year ago after an experiment in which Google employees used autonomous vehicles for their normal commutes to work. There were no crashes. But Google engineers realized that asking a human passenger — who could be reading or daydreaming or even sleeping — to take over in an emergency won’t work.
“We saw stuff that made us a little nervous,” said Christopher Urmson, a former Carnegie Mellon University roboticist who directs the car project at Google.
There is also another reason Google wants to take people out of the equation. Google engineers are a lot like the character “Dilbert.” They don’t relate well to people. They also tend to be control freaks in the model of Steve Jobs, Joseph Stalin and the Borg Queen. They also have, like the Borg, a tendency towards “group-think” and don’t like individuality.
Another thing that gives me great pause is accident avoidance. I was watching a Twit.tv podcast last week when this car came up for discussion. One of the things that Leo LaPorte mentioned that is not in this article was the programming algorithm on dealing with a potential accident. The computers in the car are designed to protect the greatest number of people. What that means is, if there are five people outside the car and you are alone inside the car, the computers will decide to protect the other 5 people at the expense of your life. In other words, it will kill you. If you have your baby in the car, well, that’s still 5 people to 2 people so you and your baby will die.
I’m sorry, but when it comes down to it, I’m going to save myself and my family. Yes, it may seem selfish and individualistic, but it’s also human nature. People will look out for themselves. There is also another thing the engineers at Google haven’t considered. The best computer on Earth is between people’s ears. The human brain is far more efficient then any computer today. While a computer will choose the most logical path, a human might see something else. A driver might see a way to flip a car or do something that saves both the passengers and the people outside.
For instance, the computer may decide that the best way to save the most lives is to drive off a bridge. Yes, the passengers will die, but the larger group of people will survive. Someone driving that car might see a way to skid the car and put it in a ditch, thereby saving everyone with minimal injuries. Computers are faster then humans, but they are limited by their programming. They can also misinterpret something and “Whoops!” off the bridge you go. Of course the family of ducks that the car decided were more important than you and you baby did survive of course.
Now there is one more, much bigger reason why this car will never sell. It is, what we used to call, “Chick Repellent.” Just take a look at this thing.
Nothing says “Yep, the only girls I’ll ever see naked are on the Internet!” like this rolling advertisement for male chastity. This is why I said earlier that this car is exactly what the fathers of teenage girls want their potential boyfriends to drive. Their daughters might ride around in one with their friends, but there is no way in Hell they will be caught dead with any guy who admits to owning one of them. Forcing teenage boys to pick up their dates in this thing is one way to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies. Outside of Sergey Brin and Google employees, there is only one other type of person who will want to ride around in this thing.
I think I’ll keep my pickup truck. I may need to get some Q-tips for those times I run into one of these things. The Q-tips will be perfect for cleaning the remains out of my grill work.
~The Angry Webmaster~