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Sketchbook: The Phantom Car

Updated: Jan 17

Machine learning, a phrase I've gotten tired of hearing from my dad. He’s thrown around the phrase for years now and all I know is that it is artificial intelligence. My dad has always been extremely passionate about this AI and machine learning and always tries to spark conversations about it. However, I never really thought about machine learning’s effect in depth, to me it seemed to be a natural occurrence in the direction that technology is developing. So far in my life, I have few fears of machine learning. I absolutely LOVE Netflix’s recommendation feature and sometimes even the tailored clothing ads on my browser. Of course this just feeds into my consumerist nature, but in small amounts it is satisfying. But I know, AI can do more than just tailor my entertainment.


The most prominent idea in my mind is that of self driving cars. Living in the Silicon Valley, it is not uncommon to see a Tesla on every corner. It really is like living on the set of the show Silicon Valley and we absolutely live in a bubble. Side note: There’s a great bit on Silicon Valley that talks about a machine learning device that was supposed to identify types of food with a scan, but thought everything was a hot dog. But there is now a reality that almost 50% of my drivers in my home town are AI, not human. This, of course, sparks many ethics questions: who will the car protect, does the care have ethical reasoning, etc… But it also allows for great opportunity in the world of public transport. Big cities do not struggle with this issue, but smaller or more spread out towns require cars for travel. Cars are liabilities. They are expensive and they require a license.


My dad introduced an idea to me for a system of self-driving cars that may someday come to fruition. Let’s say there was a whole network of these cars. Traffic becomes more efficient and, while there are debates, safety would increase. Liability now switched from the driver to the designer of the car, which can be a scary idea. But I think the pros out-way the cons. Machine Learning can allow for cars to drive more safely than any not-under-the-influence driver. AI Cars also don’t have active minds like humans and just like that, distractions have been eliminated. A smoother system for car transportation could be extremely beneficial to more rural or spread out areas (as long as there are a sufficient amount of vehicles).

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