Friday, August 25, 2017

Driverless cars are coming while Balbo Drive is going


     “It’s like shooting a duck in a bucket,” I told my wife, making a pistol with my thumb and forefinger and taking bead on the imaginary fowl placidly paddling at my feet, looking up at me with anatine puzzlement.
     I was referring to commenting on the stupidities of the Chicago City Council. Their various edicts and pronouncements hardly matter. Besides, I have my professional pride to think about. We do not traffic in the obvious.
    No need to highlight the City Council’s follies for readers. They know.
     But there is futurity to think about. And someday, maybe even someday soon, when the bean-shaped, electric, self-driving cars that we summon with our iPhones, if not simply by tugging an earlobe and wishing it, are gliding silently to our doors, some grinning wit will disinter thecomments made this week by Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke(14th):

“Let’s say a child is playing soccer or basketball in a park and then loses control of the ball and it rolls out into the street,” Burke fretted. “Would the [driverless] vehicle recognize the presence of the ball or toy and promptly brake?”
     No Ed, the car would just run over the ball and the child chasing it; that’s what makes this new technology so exciting.

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15 comments:

  1. 1. Burke & his fellow idiot aldercreature are just looking for bribes.
    2. Burke wants Balbo renamed after a failed Irish-American Mayor, Martin Kennelly, instead of being politically astute & renaming it after an Italian that lived & worked in Chicago. Fermi is the best choice, because while he joined the Fascist Party, it was undoubtedly a forced decision in order to keep his job. He then left Italy, despite Mussolini's personal guarantee that his Jewish wife would be safe from the general policy of rounding up Jews & sending them to death camps. So Fermi left, with his wife & on Dec. 2, 1942, Arthur Compton called up James Conant, head of the National Defense Committee & gave him the coded message "you'll be interested to know that the Italian navigator has just landed in the new world", meaning the first atomic reactor worked.

    The Italian Navigator deserves to have a street in Chicago named for him!
    He changed the world.

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  2. I have a hard time imagining driverless cars taking off once hackers figure out how to take them over. I don't trust Google or Apple or the other automakers to be able to stop them because I can live with a "blue screen of death" on my PC. I can't live if my driverless car slams me into other cars just for the lulz of it.

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    1. I have 2 computers in my office, one connected to the Internet, one not. The former connects me to the cyber world with all its attractions and dangers, the latter works whatever happens, short of electricity failure. I think Google, Apple, and the rest are aware of this technique, primitive though it may be.

      john

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    2. Driverless cars have to be connected to a network and that's what makes them prey to hackers. https://www.wired.com/2017/04/ubers-former-top-hacker-securing-autonomous-cars-really-hard-problem/

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  3. What about just adding an A and renaming it Balboa Drive? That wouldn't be any more offensive than Columbus. Among the conquistador cohort, he was pretty enlightened.

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    1. Plus a lot of people will think it means Rocky!

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    2. And the Sylvester could come and unveil a statue on that column!

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  4. I don't care if I'm the last driver on the road, I want to either steer the car I'm riding in myself or trust whoever's doing it, thank you very much.

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    1. I'm with you, Bitter Scribe! I enjoy driving. Some day people will point at us and laugh, "look at that crazy old man, DRIVING his car." But we'll show them. We'll form the NDA - the National Driver Association. Our bumper stickers will say, "You can have my steering wheel when you pry it out of my cold dead hands".

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    2. I've got the feeling that once driverless cars reach a certain tipping point, it will be all over for human drivers, because everything from stop lights to street configurations will be geared to making driverless trips safer, more convenient and more efficient. I'm sure it will drive you crazy, Mr. Scribe, to sit behind a line of cars that has slowed down to 5 miles an hour in order to arrive at a stop light turning green.

      john

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    3. That's a good point, John. Driverless cars would probably work well if they had their own designated roads, but the transitioning period would undoubtedly be utter chaos.

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  5. "Anatine!" Who knew that swans, geese and ducks were of the family anatidia? Thanks Neil.

    I would vote for Fermi. He won a Nobel prize in 1938 for work that led to unlocking the power -- for good and ill -- of the atom. And he returned to the U. of C. after the war where he made more contributions to theoretical physics and was also an influential teacher. So it would be a recognition of scientific accomplishment and the important contributions Chicago has make to that branch of human knowledge.

    Balbo was a rather Lindberg-like figure. Honored by Italians for his contributions to aviation, but they were somewhat mixed. The air force he created was effective against unarmed Ethiopians, but was swept from the skies in WW II. And he was, himself, shot down by friendly fire.

    He did not, incidentally, fly from Rome to Chicago, as many news accounts have it. His flight of seaplanes left from Orbetello, a pretty town on the Tuscan coast some hundred miles north of Rome, and Chicago was the last of seven or eight stops.

    Tom

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  6. The "National Driver Association" sounds good, Tony. Especially since, oddly, the driverless cars already have their own long-standing group -- the American Automobile Association. Why was that group established for cars instead of people, I wonder...

    I had to duck into a dictionary for "anatine," myself, T. E.

    Seems to me they could have some fun with it and have some kind of online vote for a new name to replace Balbo. Alas, in this benighted burg, that would probably result in Ditka Drive. That "a" at the end of his name means he's Italian, right? ; )

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  7. I too love driving; why must everything we humans do be replaced by technology anyway. Sure, it probably will save lives, but it will hammer yet another nail into our sense of control and usefulness. As we sit idly in the passenger seat, will be be allowed to listen to whatever music or audio book we enjoy, or will that be taken away as well? Sheesh.

    I vote for Malnati Way.

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    1. I'm good with Malnati Way.
      Let's forget about Fermi Drive, though. It's sure to offend. Might just as well go with Enola Gay Way, or Little Boy Blvd. And don't even get me started on Sinatra. His "act" was about as interesting as wet cardboard. The man couldn't sing!

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