Published on: February 8, 2018
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Recently there was a story in the news about how a Tesla self-driving car in Los Angeles slammed into the back of a fire truck. A stopped fire truck.
Raising the question: How did the advanced technology used in a self-driving Tesla not seen this enormous red truck in front of it?
Well, it ends up that while Teslas are pretty good at self-driving cars, they’re not so good at self-braking cars. The instructions apparently actually say that the car won’t stop for stationary vehicles, especially when doing more than 50 MPH. According to a story in Wired, the Volvo self-driving cars have the same problem. (I’m depending on outside reporting on this. I’m not exactly
I think this illustrates a reality about technology - you can’t always count on it doing the total job.
MNB readers know I love technology, to the point where people sometimes question whether or not I actually like stores. But I’m totally on board with the notion that technology only can take you so far. It’s a long way, and getting longer … but only so far.
If you’re competing with the retail giants with enormous access to capital and the ability to spend it on various technology initiatives, this is especially good news.
I was having this conversation the other day with a friend of mine who is convinced that this isn’t just a glitch in the system that is easily fixed. He actually thinks it points to a fundamental flaw in the whole science of self-driving cars, and that it could be decades before they have any sort of real impact on the culture.
I’m not sure I agree with him, though I’ll be the first to acknowledge that he’s a lot smarter than I am, and that if you were going to place a bet on one of us having an insight into game-changing technologies, you’d probably want to bet on him.
But in this case … I think there is so much money at stake in self-driving technology that the powers that be will have to identify and implement a solution to this problem. Self-driving trucks, for example, may be necessary not for technology’s sake, but because there are fewer young people who want to drive them for a living, which creates a real need.
I also think it is a mistake to see this as a binary choice. I have a Mustang convertible, and it has a manual transmission … because that’s how I want to drive. I don’t really care how good the self-driving technology is. I want to really drive…until I don’t. Or won’t.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but you can’t count on it for everything. You have to have options, and abilities that will work when the technology doesn’t or can’t. And you have to be open-minded, it seems to me, both about technology’s possibilities and its limitations.
Otherwise, you’re going to slam into a not-so-stationery object called reality.
That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: