What is the autonomous car?

Tyler Moseberry, Courier Staff

We may be the first generation to witness the wide scale production of autonomous vehicles. This statement is not only realistic, it is happening as we speak. Well, at least the race to the first autonomous car is in the works. When people ask what they would do with an autonomous car, most might scoff at the idea.

Technology and the reaction time of the vehicles have to be almost perfect. This may sound like a pipe dream, but it is something that artificial intelligence can pull off. The reason that this is possible is that AI already has a faster reaction time than humans do.

The problem is that we have to teach the AI what to react to and what not to react to, since so much human interaction is necessary in driving. Most companies have decided to use Q-learning or reinforcement learning. In short, this type of learning tries to emulate the way that humans learn. Through trial and error, the AI begins to understand why the mistakes made were wrong and try to prevent them from happening again.

Now, how and where does this type of learning take place? Well, it is a combination of simulations and real-life test runs. The AI will begin one simulation and then continue to do simulations at increased difficulties as it accomplishes the previous simulation.

Eventually, the AI will become good enough in the simulations that real-life test runs have to be done to assess the capability of the AI. Currently, we are in the real-life test run phase; AI is capable of passing the simulations and needs spontaneous scenarios to test their judgment.

If all goes well with the real-life test runs, companies will start to adopt autonomous vehicles in their business. Fewer drivers means prices will be lower for items in transit. Depending on how widespread autonomous vehicles become, decreased costs in the market place is a possibility.

Autonomous vehicles are only the beginning. AI has the potential to be implemented in more than just vehicles. AI could be used for shipping items across the oceans or air. Both of these tasks are much more complicated than land vehicles, which is why we have to master the roads first.

Now, many may think that this implementation of AI will take jobs away from people, and this is unfortunately true. Although, there is a silver lining, the AI can not be entirely run on its own, and if something fails, someone has to fix it. This opens new jobs for people as others disappear.

The thing that will disappear is unskilled labor. As time goes on, less unskilled labor is required because technology is doing the work for us. AI can be a good thing or a bad thing. The human race is progressing and improving, and anyone that refuses to improve themselves will inevitably be left behind.

Technology allows us to do more tasks than we could without it, which means that we should not be afraid of it. Embracing progress and becoming informed about AI will prevent confusion and fear. The only way is up from here and looking down is not accepted.