Sixty years ago this month, Isaac Asimov published a short story about a self-driving “automatobile” called Sally who had not only judgment but feelings, which spelled doom for the man who loved her. It will happen—and it won’t. Fully automated cars will be common. Those cars will have judgment, and this will upend our lives, our work, and our cities. But cars will have no more feeling than IBM’s Deep Blue had back in 1997, when it beat the world chess champion. Well, two out of three isn’t half bad, even for an Asimov. Today you can buy a top-of-the-line S-Class car from Mercedes-Benz that figuratively says “ahem” when you begin to stray out of your lane or tailgate. If you do nothing, it’ll turn the wheel slightly or lightly apply the brakes. And if you’re still intent on crashing, it will take command. In 5 years, cars will be quicker to intervene; in 20, they won’t need your advice; and in 30, they won’t take it. Accident rates will plummet, parking problems will vanish, streets will narrow, cities will bulk up, and commuting by automobile will become a mere extension of sleep, work, and recreation. With no steering column… Read full this story
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