Monday, January 28, 2019

It's Not AI

This is a fairly interesting report from a Waymo user who isn't a jerk skeptic like me but describes some of the problems with their safety driver manned robotaxis.

The technology is really neat! They work really well! But they aren't really AI. We don't have AI. We don't have bad AI. We just have pretty amazing computers.

Every problem you can come up with that isn't due to sensor problems (if they don't work in the rain...that's a problem) you can imagine a software fix... up to a point. You make them smarter about recognizing upside down stop signs, or you have all the stop signs programmed into the map. This probably works for a lot of things, though I think people underestimate just how many of these things there are. If it's a constant game of whack-a-mole, even if they manage to hit the mole each time, it isn't clear this ever going to be useful.

But crowded holiday shopping parking lot? That's... a tougher one. I don't think the computer brains are going to be able to handle that one soon. So, ok, you don't enter the parking lot, you drop off on the edge (in places with no sidewalks?). You get all the shopping centers (all of them?) to have dedicated pick up and drop off places.

My point is the technology is neato and it works surprisingly well. And you can always imagine how to solve this problem or that problem, with a warehouse filled with coders going at it constantly. Many of them, anyway. But the problems never end...