Autonomous Vehicles and the Perils of Prediction

I am a big believer in rehearsing the future versus attempting to predict it. The wild swings we experience when following future scenarios can range from bold predictions of imminent manifestation to dire warnings that a scenario will never be realized. In this Recent Article, the author describes how the auto industry is rethinking the timetable to realizing level 5 autonomy. Turns out we underestimate the human intelligence required  to drive a car and overestimate our ability to replicate it. The article provides simple examples:

When a piece of cardboard blows across a roadway 200 yards ahead, for example, human drivers quickly determine whether they should run over it or veer around it. Not so for a machine. Is it a piece of metal? Is it heavy or light? Does a machine even “know” that a heavy chunk of metal doesn’t blow across the roadway? It’s a tougher problem.

Or how about this challenge that humans for the most part handle very well:

When a car arrives at a four-way stop at the same time as another vehicle, for example, it’s a dilemma for a machine. Human drivers tend to nod or make eye contact, but micro-controllers can’t do that.

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Self Driving Delivery

The hype around autonomous technology continues. The focus, investment and rapid advancement in this space has changed the way leaders Think about the Future. The science-fiction feel of a future-focused discussion has disappeared – replaced by the reality that the future is appearing faster than we think. Look no further than self-driving delivery.

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The Driverless Car: Fast Lanes or Speed Bumps?

Fast Lane or Speed Bumps

The driverless car is one of many emerging future scenarios that drive multiple paradigm shifts. As these shifts converge, they intensify the critical need for leaders to think differently about a world where the future arrives faster than people think. This speed is unappreciated, undermining the levels of urgency required to survive in this exponential age. I sat with Chunka Mui recently to discuss these shifts, using the driverless car to explore the challenges of our emerging future.

Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting group that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. As a consultant on strategy and innovation, Mr. Mui has spent considerable time analyzing the driverless car scenario. He asked a question in his book The New Killer Apps about autonomous vehicles and what happens if traffic accidents are reduced by 90% as Google predicts. This simple question makes visible the broad and deep implications of these future scenarios. As society responds to their implications, new ecosystems emerge that alter our world. In this case, the driverless car is one of numerous components of an emerging mobility ecosystem that is defined by the responses that are playing out right now.

I will share insights from our interview in a series of posts, starting with this one. In this segment of the interview, Mr. Mui and I discussed the growing need to rehearse the future.

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