The problem with self-driving cars

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Aka: Why this burning money pit has failed to produce meaningful results for decades.

The future is here, and it looks nothing like we expected. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of Alexnet, we have to critically examine the successes and failures of machine learning.

We are looking out from a higher plateau.

We have achieved things in computer vision, natural language processing and speech recognition that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. By all accounts, the accuracy of our AI systems exceeds the wildest imaginations of yesteryear. 

And yet, it’s not enough. 

We were wrong about the future. Every prediction about self-driving cars has been wrong. We are not living in a future of autonomous cyborgs, and something else has come into focus. 

Augmentation over automation.

Humans crave control. It is one of our deepest, most instinctual desires. There is no world where we give it up. One of the biggest misunderstandings of the AI community today is that people become comfortable with automation over time. As the reliability of automated solutions is proven, the microwave background comfort of society steadily rises.

This is false.

The history of technology is not the history of automation. It is the history of control and abstraction. We are tool-builders, so uncomfortable with experiences beyond our control that for thousands of years we developed entire civilizations and mythos around the movement of the heavens. So it is with all te...

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