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Aka: Why this burning money pit has failed to produce meaningful results for decades.
We are looking up from a higher plateau.
We have made advances in computer vision, natural speech processing, and speech recognition that were unimaginable just a few short years ago. Our AI systems are more accurate than any of our wildest dreams.
But it’s not enough.
We were wrong about the future. Every prediction about self-driving cars has been wrong. We do not live in an era of autonomous cyborgs. Instead, something else is now being considered.
Augmentation over automation.
Humans want control. It is our deepest and most instinctual desire. It is not possible to give it up in this world. The biggest misconception in the AI community is that people get comfortable with automation. The microwave background comfort of society is steadily increasing as automated solutions are proven reliable.
This is false.
The history of technology isn’t the history of automation. It is the history and control of abstraction and control. We are tool-builders. We feel so out of control of experiences that we have created entire civilizations and mythos based on the movement of the skies. It is the same with all technology.
And so it is with AI.
Since the beginning, there has been a problem with self-driving vehicles. There is no control. We see parallel parking and lane assist in the many successful self-driving car implementations over the years. There are situations and use cases in which the control panel between machine and human is evident. In all other situations, where the goal has been the pursuit of mythical level 5 autonomy, self-driving cars have failed miserably.
Technology is not the bottleneck.
In 1925 we had a radio-controlled car navigating the streets of New York City through a busy traffic jam without a driver behind the wheel. At the 1939 World’s Fair, Norman Geddes’ Futurama exhibit outlined a plausible smart highway system that would effectively use magnetized spikes — like electromagnetic fiducials — embedded in the road to guide cars. He predicted that autonomous cars would be the dominant form of transportation by the 1960s.
Of course, he was also wrong.
It’s not about the technology. No, “smart highways” have been tremendously successful and straightforward where they’ve been implemented. We have self-driving cars that can drive as safely as human drivers today, even without any additional infrastructure. Yet, even with more than $80 billion flowing into the field from 2014 to 2017, we have no self-driving cars. For reference, the $108 billion the U.S. federal government committed to public transit over a 5-year period was the largest investment the country has ever made in public transportation.
The difference is that I can ride on a train.
The problem is that no one has thought about the new control panels that we want to make possible. It wasn’t about driving automated. This is a narrow-minded, narrow-minded way to think. It is all about how to transform transit.
They are loud, smelly, and the most inefficient type of transportation one could imagine. They’re the most expensive thing a person owns after their home, but they don’t create value. It is not something that wants , but it is an asset that have . It is a progressive tax that devastates the planet and helps to fund the roads that plague our cities. It’s an expensive, dangerous hunk of metal that sits unused in an expensive garage nearly 100% of the time.
And making them self-driving solves approximately none of these problems. That’s the problem. We spend too much time dwelling on the mythical state of total automation and forget about the real problems in front of our eyes. Uber is a success because you can call a car by pressing a button. Leases are successful