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COLUMN: Can we trust those computer-driven vehicles? | Opinion

“Can we rely on computer -driven cars?” That question seemed ridiculous a decade ago. Now, you have to think.

The topic recently admitted some urgency in my mind due to a PBS NOVA episode of hands-off self-drive cars. They are close, NOVA said. Apparently, auto manufacturers are spitting on an estimated one trillion – yes, that – billion with a Tr – dollar business that they believe will be in their near future thanks to the many advances in Artificial Intelligence. .

And will we go along with it because of our experiences of self -driving problems in today’s generation of cars? Will our legislators allow it?

The thing is, experience tells us not to trust computers. They can lie. We see it all the time using the GPS system – the sound of the computer giving direction without meaning. Oh, the trouble we would experience if we always believed that voice.

Like, on a trip when a GPS sent me and my Jeep (Goldie) down an old Indiana two -lane, eastward toward the Ohio River, the road suddenly ended on a nearby bank . I stopped there, ignoring the GPS that said: “Keep going straight ahead.”

What information did Goldie’s GPS receive from its satellite? If it was still dark outside, what would I have seen?

There’s that old saying about computers being “inside, trash outside.” If there’s one example, that’s it. Not that computers are more reliable, though. Batteries lost, signals interrupted, servers crashed. Things happen.

For example, it is likely that even some of you have a run-in in your car pre-emptively. Goldie did that to me a few weeks ago.

We were in heavy stop-and-walk traffic in downtown Billings, cars racing into position, trying to find the fastest route. Suddenly, Goldie screamed and applied the brake. We stopped dead.

Until then, I never knew that the computer brain in a car could be damaged. It can be.

And, hearing the sharp alarm and finding myself thrown forward against the seat belt scared the *** away from me. We may be in the back.

What caused Goldie’s action? I have no worries. Do we feel like we are about to hit the car in front of us? I don’t think so. His behavior was unexpected and had never happened before. He rolled I-95 at 75 mph maneuvering like a lemming in a school of trucks and cars. He was negotiating the absolutely awful Jersey Turnpike in rush hour and was driving downtown Chicago in a heavy rain. No sweat.

Which brings me back to the question of trust. I used to think I could rely on his limited self -driving skills and brain power. Not so much.

In fact, up until the Billings Braking Business, I felt comfortable about the idea of ​​riding in a self -driving car. Now?

Not that people can’t make mistakes. This is why we don’t expect much from fellow drivers, it’s definitely not perfect, and we won’t be disappointed. So, now I prefer to stick to what I know.

Sorry, Goldie. Your manumission papers will have to wait.

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