Computer-cars not smart

I am speaking again on a Future of Transportation Forum at the Toronto Global Economic forum, in December.

While my involvement will be from the flying car industry, the conversation with some of the audience always moves to driving autonomy.

I have not been an advocate for autonomous vehicles because of the overwhelming number of problems that there is no solution for. In fact, there is a litany of reasons that a computer cannot replace the human brain in driving situations in Canada.

When I last wrote about autonomous cars, I talked about the cold beads of sweat on the forehead of major car manufacturer engineers when they are asked whether the computer kills the dog or the child if they run out from each side of the road.

As is typical in the Castanet forums, I was criticized for being a fool who knows nothing about computing or autonomous vehicles.

Well. strangely enough, I wasn’t alone. The same problem I referenced is now being looked at by MIT.

This problem will not go away soon. As an example: If every computer is programmed to kill old people, I suspect we may have an ethics problem, and rather a large lobby. 

You see the real issue is that you cannot teach a computer to think. I can already see the comments in the comment section. Do I not realize that AI already exists?

Not exactly. We are getting better at programming.

This scenario is just one example of a car computer not dealing well with having to think, so we have to program it. 

Take another example. You are driving over a mountain pass and it is a cold, clear, frosty morning. But you know you are driving past a lake and the dew point was such the previous evening that there would have been fog from the lake.

That means black ice over the crest of the hill. The autonomous vehicle would come over the crest, realize too late that there is no traction and frankly struggle to do anything at all.

With our local knowledge and intuition, we can avoid an accident.

Let’s not even bother talking about white-out conditions with a white sky, white road and white fog… it won’t work. 

So for now, sign up for the surveys, keep reading the techie magazines, but if you believe that autonomous vehicles are safe, insurable and practical, think again.

At least for quite a few more years. 


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories