We’re too impatient for the future
Why do they do that? The clue’s in the word ‘racing.’ Having promised a future where cars drive themselves, every car manufacturer, rideshare operator and big tech company seems to have some kind of autonomous vehicle programme on the go. And they all want to get their destination first. It’s been promised, so they must deliver or they’ll be left behind the competition.
But as useful as they may end up being, we don’t need self-driving vehicles to arrive in the next five years. The world won’t end if the idea of humans driving isn’t a thing of the past within two decades. And given the huge risks to human safety these vehicles present in the short term, not to mention the shifts in employment and culture they’ll prompt around the world, surely it makes sense to go slow?
But we’ve got used to tech moving fast. For a decade or so, smartphones got markedly better every year. We got Kindles to read books, iPads for casual browsing, started tracking our fitness in the cloud, integrated the internet into every aspect of our lives, and got used to having almost unlimited entertainment on tap 24-7. A lot changed very quickly.
But not all changes can, or should, happen so fast. Now smartphones have plateaued, the promise of VR and AR doesn’t seem to be breaking that tech into the mainstream like many predicted, and for all the talk about how advanced A.I. is getting, most automated systems we deal with rely on simple, scripted interactions. All the hype about how A.I. would soon be able to think better than us was just that – over-excited hype.
There’s nothing wrong with things slowing down for a bit. If you look at the huge cultural upheaval technology is causing around the world right now, it makes sense not to wish a relentless flow of massively disruptive technology upon us all.
I’m not saying we should slow technological development down, just let’s not rush it.