13 Comments

  1. I think just that the somewhat absurd “practically drives itself” that people would say just because the car had a few high-tech bells and whistles is now becoming true as science catches up with science fiction.

  2. Agreeing with Philip. Also a slight variation, it used to be that “practically drives itself” was a praising remark about how easy-handling a model was; but now it surprisingly is a disappointment when applied to a car that is supposed to be literally self-driving.

  3. A sly reference to Elon Musk over-promising self-driving on Teslas? I bought it because it was supposed to be self-driving by December, but it’s still just “Autopilot” that I have to keep constant vigil over …

    I don’t see this cartoon as being that on top of current events though — but maybe the author deliberately makes me feel that way through his choice of making everyone and everything look like it’s vaguely from the 80s, and so he can slip in trenchant social commentary without anyone noticing?

  4. I just read a “rant” []. What made it interesting was that the ranter used her real name when posting. And it got me to thinking, would the civility of the internet and social media change if everyone had to use their names instead of “handles?” I mean, we know who Bill Bickel is (and another Bill Bickel who isn’t Bill), and I post any comment, anywhere, using my “real” name. You can look me up on Google, obtain my address, a photo of my home, and plan your firebombing accordingly if you take offense at my comment. I’m not pointing the finger at the CIDU followers. You all are a bunch of civil, smart people and I often come away from my daily read knowing something of significance of which I was previously unaware. And I realize it’s impossible, at least at this time, to require people to use their real names, but consider it a thought experiment. What would the online world look like under that condition?

  5. Although I admit that my associated photo is not my real image. I could never be so cute. I’m sparing you the horror, trust me.

  6. I wondered at first if it was a comment about cars that are so self-driving they can do it all by themselves, without even a human on board with a desire to go somewhere. The car handles not only the technical tasks of navigating a course and avoiding accidents but also has the emotional intelligence to take itself off for a drive in the mountains for the halibut, to feel fresh air in its radiator grill, or perhaps to meet up with other cars for a natter and a bit of doughnutting in some urban under-overpass car park.

    But then I decided it wasn’t. The first sentence would have had to be different, but whatever it was would probably have been a bit clunky and expository (“It drives off by itself, no idea where. Then again, it is a self-driving vehicle”.

  7. As far as I’m concerned, they can make the car self-driving all they want, but this isn’t going to work until they perfect GPS: mine very often gives me instructions to make a turn moments too late to make the turn safely. Will a car decide to ignore the instruction if it’s past the fail-safe point, or will it swing past two lanes of traffic like most New Jersey drivers?

    And sometimes GPS is just plain wrong: once last year it told me to go to a nearby supermarket by way of… Philadelphia, 100 miles away. A self-driving car wouldn’t have thought twice (as it were).

  8. To be fair, GPS directions are nothing less than magic: 25 years ago, if ‘d wanted directions to that supermarket, I’d have had to call AAA, and two weeks later they’d mail me a series of maps with my route highlighted.

    But we still need a human in the equation.

  9. i THINK “human in the equation” is the key. And what defines “human” is relevant to the machines. I’ve had GPS send me down dreadful dead ends (logging roads with no easy way back) to the point where now I simply add GPS into the mix of whatever I’m using to get from here to there.

  10. I’m going with post #1, but I did appreciate the remark regarding opera windows.

    Now, regarding GPS and such, I recall early on autonomous vehicles were supposed to be following wires embedded in the pavement. IIRC General Motors dreamed up a sort of autonomous highway in a ’50s promotional film.

    Also, I recall rolling my eyes at the fancy self-parking cars of twenty-odd-years ago. I wonder how well that feature works on an old used car today.

  11. Bill – you can go into AAA for directions – if you know how to get there.

    First Meryl A is my real name – and A can be middle or my married name. My alternate name online is colonialstitcher – why, I presume is obvious.

    I have probably sworn about GPS in the past. One of the reasons we would not buy a self-driving car is that is Robert could not ride in it without getting car sick – the other is I don’t trust GPS. Robert now uses 2- 3 GPS devices at a time. It sounds like that they are arguing with each other when drive. He has gotten to the point where he needs GPS to go to places we go to on a regular basis.

    We have gone to Lancaster, PA since 1974 at least annually – most years 6 or more time a year. In particular we go to a folk craft fair in Kutztown on our July trips. This means we have gone to this fair – over 40 times and all but one trip was made from Lancaster to Kutztown. (One year we went from home.) Three years ago his (then only GPS) stopped working. He was in a panic about going to Ktown – how would we get there – and we started going there long before personal GPS existed. I looked at him in shock and said “Rt 30 west to Rt 222. Stay on 222 until we get to the Kutztown exit and then follow that road – we will go through 2 traffic lights, both of which cause backups for you to swear at, the coliseum stores on the left before the first light, just after the second light is the former tea room on the right and the former inn – now a medical office – on the left. We will pass the Airport diner on the right and then the airport. As the road continues into the downtown Kutztown area we will pass through the university buildings – at the end of same there is a traffic light. At the traffic light the pizza place is across the street on the right and there will be a sign with an arrow pointing left, pointing us to the fair. About a block and half down the fair will be on our right. Even if they will let us park on the fairgrounds we need to continue past them to the college parking lot on the left and park in there (RV has too low a clearance for the fairgrounds dirt parking). I mean we have been there over 40 times! I even know how to drive there from I 78 to the north of Ktown.

    As to the accuracy of GPS – one of the ones we have seems to like to make us make U-turns. For example – when we were buying our RV we had to go a dealer to talk about buying it. We were going there from I78 and had not been to the dealer before. Being cheap and also Diabetic we find one of the 3 major fast food burger chains in advance to have lunch. In this case it was a McDonalds. On the map it was south of I78 – and since we were heading west that meant we had to go to the left (south) when we got off I78. We got off at the correct exit. At the bottom of the exit ramp was a light and I told him to turn left. The GPS told us to turn right – he turned right. We were told to make a right turn 2 blocks along – then another right – so now we are heading back towards I78. The road deadended at I78. GPS said to make a U-turn. We were now behind a small strip shopping mall, the front of which is immediately next to the exit ramp we took. It send us around the mall and through its parking lot. At the front it told us to turn left – which we should have done to begin with. Problem is that at the bottom of the exit ramp there was a traffic light – now we have to make the left turn onto a heavy traffic, 4 lane road.

    I do have a map program in my laptops from years ago that was also a GPS with a USB wired GPS. it has the advantage that I can follow the trip on an actual map and see what is going on. Once the GPS died and I followed the route on the map as it was actually a trip to somewhere we had not been before. It is so old, however that sometimes we are driving through fields on the map (VA – they rerouted Rt 15) or the address we are going to is not on the map (Cabellas, Hartford CT) because the road is too new for the map. But I was able to find where Cabellas is and drop a point on the map for next time. I can also a drop a point on the map for it to route us to. (On my WIN 10 laptop it is on the Win XP virtual machine.)

    Though perhaps best of all – we were driving to PA and went to get to the NJ Turnpike. An 18 wheeler had turned over in front of the toll booths and we were sent off onto a local road. As we went on the road I realized we were in an industrial park that we have been in for various events at a event venue. I told him to pull into one of the many parking lots and we would figure out – he did not. We ended up back on the road heading back to NY – I could not boot the computer fast enough, so I reached into the box between the seats and pulled out – A PAPER MAP – from which I figured out to how to get to Rte 1 as an alternate. He kept waiting for the GPS to figure out we had a problem and take us another way – as it kept trying to send us back to the closed entrance.

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