Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Uber’s Driverless Cars, And 5 Other Examples Of Machines Winning

“Hello, your driverless car has arrived.” That message is greeting Uber users in Pittsburgh today, as the company unveils its brand-new driverless car function. “Why Pittsburgh?” you might ask. According to Popular Science, it’s where Uber established its secretive robotics plants, pilfering minds from Carnegie Mellon’s renowned robotics program.

But also, Pittsburgh’s apparently a really hard city to drive around even if you’re human! As Uber Engineering Director Raffi Krikorian told PopSci, “We jokingly call Pittsburgh the double black diamond of driving […] We say if we can drive in Pittsburgh, we can drive anywhere.”

In that same interview, Krikorian posits that manifesting the driverless car is a safety issue, and definitely not to eliminate a human work force. “Driving is actually a pretty dangerous thing,” he says, sounding every bit the economic existentialist.


Living in Austin, Texas, I may or may not have a personal bias against Uber (and Lyft) for leaving the city after voters passed regulations on the ride-share services. (Business Insider has a good recap, if you’re unfamiliar.) So if I sound *down* on Uber’s driverless car thing, take it with a shaker of salt.

That being said, I’m terrified. Almost every major tech company is chasing the driverless car: Apple, Google, Lyft. More and more technology has replaced not just our need to provide for ourselves, but might be replacing, well, us. Humans. AI and tech making humans obsolete is very much an ongoing conversation currently.

Excuse me if I sound like a Luddite, but driverless cars isn’t the only technology pushing human jobs (and humans!) into irrelevancy. In fact, there’s enough to make you a little uncomfortable about the future.

Amazon Drones

When Jeff Bezos announced these bad boys during a 2013 60 Minutes interview, the reaction was clinically tepid. It sounded like a marketing gimmick. But now they’re real and happening.

While the qualifications necessary to order Amazon Air—chief among them: living near an Amazon plant and not living in a city—chills its immediate impact, it’s just a small part of how Amazon plans to revolutionize the transportation of their goods. It could be seen as Amazon pushing out the third-party transportation services they’ve relied on—FedEx, UPS, the United States Postal Service—but the New York Times says that’s not what happening here. Instead, all deliveries will look to the sky.

What’s that in the sky? A bird, a plane, Superman? Nope, it’s a robot delivering your mom’s marijuana tampons.


This one seems miniscule: A roving robot sucking up whatever dirty crusties lie on your floor. Parks & Rec’s Tom Haverford even transformed this little guy into a DJ.


But beware of leaving the Roomba running while at work: Not all may be white and clean in your home upon returning. It may be brown and shitty. The “poopocalypse” of last month reminds us that robots still exhibit human levels of stupidity: A Roomba scooped up a piece of dog poop, and smeared and sprayed it all over the house. What’s worse: A spokesperson for iRobot, makers of the Roomba, relayed this message to the Guardian regarding the incident: ““Quite honestly, we see this a lot.”

The future: a magical world full of poop floors.


Hmm. In a world full of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr, in a world full of tele-cocooning individuals who date while never seeing each other, in a world where the Japanese government hosts matchmaking events to boost a falling birth rate, in our world of modern romance, maybe a female robot who can answer questions and heed your demands from anywhere in the house isn’t the best idea.

Spike Jonze should make a movie about this.

Virtual Reality Porn

Pornography tends to influence technology: It helped VHS defeat Betamax, it instituted online transactions, and claims loads of internet content. As this Business Insider headline states: PORN: The Hidden Engine that Drives Innovation in Tech.

Many proclaim that porn could usher in a new era of virtual reality. With companies like PornHub offering free Google Cardboard quality devices, it doesn’t seem far off. But goodness, what a scary world.

I’m positive this will solve the sex problems of nerds everywhere.

3D Printers

Why create anything? Why make anything? Why craft new products? We have 3D printing.

3D printing can “print” organs, guns, prosthetics, and car parts. It is literally the future. And the machine will makes its own parts and makes improved 3D printers and we will become obsolete. Because we’re humans and the world doesn’t need us anymore. It has our technology.



How Marijuana Could Worsen Symptoms Of Depression

A recent study found people with depression were double the risk of using marijuana than those without, and were more likely to consume at a near-daily rate.

Don't Miss Your Weekly Dose of The Fresh Toast.

Stay informed with exclusive news briefs delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe anytime.