The lunch talk started at 13:00 with many people interested gathering to listen to Brad Templeton, a Networking and Computing Chair in Silicon Valley-based Singularity University, a board member (and former chairman) of Electronic Frontier Foundation and a director of the futurist Foresight Nanotech Institute speak about self-driving cars. Brad is also working with tens of companies related to self-driving cars and drones space. After his talk, the participants had great opportunity to ask questions to him.
First, he talked about the current situation without self-driving cars. Did you know that 1.2 million people are killed by cars in the world and 5.5 billion hours are lost on roads in the U.S. every year? The solution is self-driving cars. Computer-driving is safer than human-driving and people will not need to kill their productive time for driving anymore since computer will drive while people are doing their stuffs in cars.
Self-driving cars are happening not only in sci-fi movies but in the real world. Currently, many car companies such as Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, Toyota and Tesla are working on self-driving car projects. However, Google’s approach is different. Google is making vehicle with no pedal or handle. Moreover, the self-driving cars will be able to refuel or charge and park itself without human’s help.
So, how will self-driving cars change the world? Brad gave some idea with self-driving cars. Basically, not only rich people but everyone will benefit from self-driving cars in the future. Please imaginewhen you want to go somewhere but you do not have a car, you can type the direction on an application and a self-driving car will pick you up and take you there. It is like Taxify or Uber but without drivers. Another possible usage is for delivery. You can get anything you want in 30 minutes with self-driving car delivery services. You will not need to go to buy stuff and carry it by yourself anymore.
Well, self-driving cars probably have to overcome some obstacles such as legal issues and antagonistic feelings among people. Governments tend to ban everything, however, in fact, some states in the U.S. have been backing self-driving car testing. Another obstacle is antagonistic feelings, which are rooted in the common idea that people feel more fear of killed by robot than killed by human. Brad believes that people can be convinced by being aware that many people are killed by human-driving cars nowadays and self-driving cars are safer.
After his lecture, there were many interesting questions from the participants and answers from Brad.
Q: How will self-driving cars deal with unpredictable motorcycles?
Brad: Self-driving cars will not cause trouble as long as motorcycle drivers keep law. So, motorcycle drivers have to deal with it.
Q: How to solve unemployment led by automation?
Brad: The workers in industries such as transportation losing job is unavoidable. For example, workers in factories and peasants are replaced by machines in reality. But there are many books you can find, which say that robot will replace people’s jobs but they can find new jobs.
Q: What has Google done related to ethical issues in the past tests? What will self-driving car do, if it has to kill either an old lady or a school kid? Which will it choose to damage my one property or someone’s two properties?
Brad: It is the most frequently asked question. This kind of situation has not happened so far. If it happens, then it means that the self-driving car already has done something illegal like it drives too fast. Self-driving cars will follow the law, so change the law and do not make program think such a philosophical question. And when people are in such an extreme situation, they cannot follow law and start panicking.
Q: Have you seen any reaction by car companies, which will be affected by self-driving cars?
Brad: Many car companies are a bit afraid of Google because they have small research projects with small budgets. But, it must be good affection by Google.
Q: Will self-driving cars communicate each other?
Brad: The server to share information from every self-driving cars is hard and unreliable. And, the first self-driving car will be lonely. So, it can happen later but not in the early stage.
Q: What is Google’s business model with self-driving cars?
Brad: I do not know and Google did not know at least when I was with them although they might find some good business models. The thing is that Google do not think about business but they are sure that they can make money from self-driving cars because car and transportation industries are huge.
I hope everyone enjoyed the lunch talk with pizza we prepared. If you forgot putting 0.5 EUR per one slice of pizza,to an empty bottle on the table, come to the next event and give it to someone from Garage48 HUB! Check out his blog if you want to be more acquainted with self-driving technologies.