The common sense lesson from the 'Roomba Poop' story
By now, you should have read the story about the Roomba (robot vacuum cleaner) mindlessly spreading dog poop all around somebody's house. If not, look it up. Well worth your time.
The lesson is duh-obvious. It applies DIRECTLY to all self-driving cars, and should be recognized by the over-confident idiots that naïvely believe they can conquer the 'A.I. is hard' barrier.
Will the self-driving car have ears (microphones) and software to hear the fire truck's siren? Will it hear the terrified passenger screaming, pleading, begging the damn car to stop due to some impossible to predict and complicated circumstance? Can the car recognize terror in a human voice screaming in an unknown language? Any human can. Anyone think of this sort of requirement? Human drivers are not permitted to wear headphones while driving, but self-driving cars can all be deaf?
Will the car have a nose, to detect the smell of itself being on fire? The dragging brake. The mattress wrapped around the driveshaft. Can it correlate the local news, and distinguish various smells? Can it see the brush fire on the next hill, and realize that the burning smell isn't car-like?
Will the car have vibration sensors to detect the loose wheel? Would it mindlessly continue driving with a wobbly wheel, like an idiot? Through the canyon, with tall cliffs.
Will the camera be able to see in swirling snow? My eyes get tired, their CPU may have a meltdown.
Intelligence without senses can be similar to insanity.
A.I. applied to a game of Chess is 'trivial' (relatively) because the I/O is well defined, limited and easy to implement. A.I. of the sort used with IBM's Watson machine playing word games is equally "trivial" for the same reason. But designing a robot vacuum cleaner to recognize a sticky dog turd is apparently something that is beyond human capability at this time.
Famously, "A.I. is hard.", even in limited sandboxes. In the real world, it's way, way, way more difficult than that.
These self-driving cars are going to spawn their own TV Channel. They're going to get themselves into all sorts of trouble, including dragging screaming humans, people that somehow half fell out of the car, mindlessly dragging them for miles and miles down the freeway.
They should name these new self-driving cars 'Christine', after the grusome movie.
Fetch your chair and popcorn.