Home > Uncategorized > The car that drives itself…

The car that drives itself…

In my HOD class, we are spending the semester investigating what makes a great problem-solver. Aside from tackling our own on-campus “problems” and piloting “solutions,” we take a few minutes before every class to watch a video about how someone has identified an issue and discovered a creative, innovative way to fix it. Last week, we watched a video about the new Google Car, a self-driving machine that has certainly raised some serious questions regarding the future of the automobile.

Wow, that makes my little Nissan look so outdated! (Sorry, Professor Rejack… I know you have a Nissan, too.) I’m sure that I have considered a car that would virtually do everything for you, but I never expected it to become a reality. Even though the Google Car undoubtedly possesses the “cool factor” that we have decided in class Neuromancer has but Software does not, my first reaction to the video consisted of worry! Google claims that the car could potentially “one day cut traffic deaths in half” because “safety is their motivation.” However, how safe is the Google Car? What happens if the cameras or “scanning laser” malfunction? Although this so-called “sophisticated combination of hardware and software” seems really, really cool and appears to work based on the short video, I know personally that I would never fully trust the vehicle, especially if young children sat in the backseat.

I’m sure that the debate about the Google Car could go on and on, but that’s not why I want to write about it. After reading excerpts from Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms and just completing a paper that discusses the importance of the mechanism, my train of thought takes me to think about how much the Google Car relies on the mechanism. For the past 100 years or so, automobiles have relied on humans for at least the control of the car. Yes, technology is a big part of it, too, but cars have always needed humans in some way; now, they only really require the mechanism. Hypothetically, a person does not even need to sit in the passenger seat for the Google Car to operate correctly. The mechanism seems more powerful than the human, which scares me a bit.

So the mechanism strikes again…

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  1. katiepons
    April 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    That is ridiculous! Also, I am not sure if I would ever be fully comfortable with that either. I just feel like there is so much that can go wrong! I was also just wondering if that car always goes that exact speed limit? And if it can merge within lanes on the highway?

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