Apple Maps, Google, and cars on auto-pilot...
Last night at the 92nd Street Y in NYC, Google's Eric Schmidt said some interesting things, one of which faulted Apple for not sticking with Google Maps in iOS 6. He points to the hundreds of millions Google has spent developing Google Maps and says doing mapping well is very difficult. True.
Thing is, since Google refused to permit turn-by-turn on the iOS in order to give Android a leg-up, Apple had no choice but to move on. Mapping software on a smartphone without turn-by-turn is about as useful as an ejection seat on a helicopter. I don't fault Google for withholding this from the iOS. This sort of move is Apple's specialty. But Schmidt's faulting Apple over cutting the cord is dumb bordering on deceptive.
More interesting is the hint of the future in Schmidt's eyes lighting up when someone asked about Google's auto-pilot car. I've followed the work on auto-piloted cars for a few years and I'm quite excited about what's coming. Apparently, Schmidt is also.
No one wants to give up the wheel of his F150, M6, or WRX, but it's inevitable. Once a bunch of us have embraced auto-piloted cars, the danger posed by the romantic individualist will require him to cede control of his machine.
Think about it. Commercial jets are on auto-pilot the vast majority of time... and it's safe--safer than men. If the flight jockey can be convinced to cede control of his airplane, Country Joe in his F150 and Master of the Universe in his M6 can be convinced, too. And what will convince him?
Cell phones now, but finally the web. As everyone debates whether or not to allow any cell phone use by drivers, ubiquitous speedy internet access will spread across the country; and wanting to work in the car will overcome our desire to shift, steer, and put the pedal to the metal. Plus our mileage will be better and accidents will be extremely rare.
Tolkien's biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, was riding with him one day when they arrived at the edge of Oxford Square. Tolkien looked over at Carpenter and said, "Charge them and they'll scatter!" Then he floored it.
("The Magic Roundabout" Swindon)
Maybe Tolkien learned to drive in Boston where using a turn signal to indicate a lane change is considered hard evidence of a major character flaw.
Anyhow, I'm sure Carpenter would agree that Google will be doing the world a favor when it perfects auto-piloted cars to the point that we're all able to vote Tolkien and his progeny back to the sedentary state any time they're seated in their car.