Smart Technology

Backroad Ramblings

I just read that Governor Ricketts and the big wigs down at Lincoln have signed a bill that puts Nebraska on the cutting edge of autonomous vehicles. These are vehicles that drive themselves. It’s great they are getting out on the forefront of this technology, but I can’t help thinking that it has a way to go.

I’m not sure how it works, but what if you filed your “flight plan,” and told the car to take you to the grocery store. But halfway there you remembered you forgot your purse. Does an autonomous car stop, turn around and go back? Do you have to re-file the whole plan? Does it wait until you have everything you need before it will move in the first place? And if that’s the case, what happens if you decide you don’t need your purse today – are you stuck in the driveway? They really need to address these kinds of things. One thing I don’t need is some smart mouth autonomous car telling me to get it together. 

And what about farmers? Everybody knows when farmers drive, they use the whole road because they are checking out all the crops along the way. No self-respecting farmer ever just goes from “A” to “B” unless there is water spewing all over somewhere or cows are out. Would this fancy-schmancy autonomous vehicle know to slow down whenever passing corn fields, stop when checking hay fields or crawl slowly past all the washouts in the county road? These are important considerations as we move into the future.

Autonomous vehicles may be (in theory at least) efficient and safer than human drivers, but they’re not human and for some reason I think humans still have a little bit of value now and then. After all, if I want to forget my purse a hundred times, I should be allowed to do that, even if it is unproductive and time killing. Lots of times it’s when you run back for your purse that you realize you left the water running or left the stove on. If we were all at maximum productivity and efficiency, how would everybody keep up with each other? 

I hope the scientists who are working on this technology are reading this, because it’s what all the companies call “feedback” and they are always telling us they want to hear about. When they are developing all this “smart technology,” they need to remember they can’t get too smart, or it’s just no good for anyone.