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.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.



On the other hand, there aren't a lot of deer, moose, trees, telephone poles, potholes, guardrails, or other vehicles to avoid at 35,000 feet.

But what will we do when the robots become self-aware and try to kill us?


Liquidate them.

I hope all readers know that the 92nd St. Y is a YMHA, not a YMCA.

Re the moose, etc.: bush planes don't fly on automatic pilot & I suspect that, at least for a long time to come, robot cars will be in robot mode only on interstates.

The new kid car safety measure will be to teach them NOT to command the car to "Activate evasive maneuvers."

>>> and accidents will be extremely rare.

That would enable a relaxing of the everybody-in-seat-belts requirements--you can to toss five or six kids in the back of a VW Beetle again, and mama can nurse the little one while you drive instead of having to let him scream. That wouldn't be all bad.

"and mama can nurse the little one while you drive instead of having to let him scream. That wouldn't be all bad."

That would be most excellent. Caedmon cried the whole drive from Cincinnati to Bloomington once. All I could think about was all our ridiculous laws. 

John Connor knows how to take down Skynet, right?

I'm probably destined to be one of those romantic individualists, but I'm suspicious of technology that pacifies people like this. What really gets me is that if someone with malicious intent can gain control of your autopiloted car's computer systems, you're now completely at their mercy, whether it be carjackers, kidnappers, the government, or whoever. 

Hal won't open the pod bay door

His name is _Eric_ Schmidt, not Larry. He is the current Chairman and former CEO of Google. The confusion is perhaps with Larry Page who is a founder and current CEO of Google.

Thanks. I corrected the post.

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