Hooniverse Asks: What Fun Aspect of Motoring Will Elon Musk Kill Next?

elon-musk-tesla
You know, I like Elon Musk. No, I really do. I mean, who else has taken the mantle of both Steve Jobsian innovator and borderline mad scientist and has embraced it the way that he has? Still, I have a bone to pick with the multi-billionaire.
Musk made his fortune nurturing a high-tech startup called PayPal. That led to SpaceX which is currently responsible for something like 90% of America’s low-orbit lifting capability, as well as Tesla, a maker of electric cars that are – to put it bluntly – the first rung on the ladder to a totally lobotomized driving experience. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that Tesla’s cars are blindingly fast and have a range comparable to a gas-powered car, seemingly automotive-dom’s nirvana.
Yeah sure, but the thing about the Tesla is that there’s no way to make them any faster. 3.5 seconds zero to sixty? What if I want 3.4? Not only has Musk single-handedly decimated the aftermarket automotive performance industry, but also he’s taken the next step towards taking all the fun out of driving. By that I mean of course, self-driving cars, which Tesla promises are right around the corner.
Look, I’ll admit that there are lots of upsides to self-driving cars, including the potential for an automotive open bar on the way to work, and vans that rock so you better not knock during drive time. Still, it seems like the enthusiast is getting the short shrift in all this high-tech mile a minute automotive change. What I want to know is, what do you think will be Elon’s next nail in the coffin?
Image: iDownload Blog

0 Comments

  1. Hyperloop trains that travel at a top speed of 760 mph. We’ll stop there. All that excitement about the Japanese 347 MPH train? sure we’ll get excited when we get a 400 MPH one, and a 500, but then this will happen (even in limited scope) and no one will want to top it because supersonic trains are absurd.

      1. Those jet trains always make me think, “So this is what Star Wars would look like on rails.”

          1. What I never understood is why they mounted those jet engines above the FRONT of the train cab. This means the entire top of the train is raked by hot LOUD exhaust. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to fit the engines at the back, blasting the exhaust behind the train?

  2. Hey! I like the probably carcinogenic GM velour from the late-70’s through late-80’s…
    Leather is better, however.

    1. I’d actually rather have that than self-driving cars. Especially over longer distances, so teleportation eclipses planes.

        1. We’re actually mostly okay with those manual controls being gone, and here’s my theory about why that is:
          When you drive a manual, both hands and feet are required (ideally — mad props to anyone missing a limb or two who still chooses to row your own), and there’s something that’s just damned satisfying about that level of engagement. When you drive an automatic, you suddenly only need two hands for quick maneuvers, and only two feet when your cantankerous old diesel disagrees with being started when it’s 10F outside and you must constantly keep your right foot on the moarfuel pedal while engaging your untrained-for-this left foot for braking duties.
          But maybe that’s just me. I’ve come to understand as I’ve gotten farther from my 20s that there’s more to being a car guy than driving a manual all the time. Like working on your own car. Like being generally knowledgeable about the current and, to some degree, past automotive landscape. Like appreciating the oddball offerings that might have been commercial flops but dammit they had character!.

        2. Speaking of manual chokes … the Ford has a choke lever that does nothing since the engine swap. I’m trying to think of a creative use for it. Any suggestions?

          1. You don’t have to use the cut-out in polite company, you just need to be in a position to point to the choke lever and explain “Of course, that’s now hooked up to the exhaust cut-out.”

          2. It will make an awfully nice location for a kill switch to keep young evil kiddies from attempting to take your car out to play when you aren’t watching….. Naturally you pull out the choke when you want to start your car…. But they won’t know that.

          3. That was my first thought … dismissed because anyone who wants to steal a 60+ year old car is likely to be clued into the purpose of a choke lever.

          4. Hook it up to the low-voltage side of the ignition circuit, then, instead of the starter circuit. When the clued-in thief pushes the choke back in, the engine will die. Anyone who wants to steal a 60+ year old car will consider that behavior to be perfectly normal and will give up on the theft. After all, who needs another project?

        3. In my car every thing is manual or “footual”
          manual choke – check (can correct dirt in carburetor jets on the go!)
          manual gearbox – check (you know the three pedal system)
          manual wiper interval – check (just on and of switch)
          “footual” high low beam switch – check
          manual windows – check
          manual vent windows – check
          manual power steering – check (no leaking hydraulics here)
          “footual” window washer pump – check
          I must say I’m OK with the way it is!

      1. Indeed. What with Koenigseggeggegegegeg completely eliminating the gearbox all together, the 1-speed gearbox in the Tesla isn’t much of an upgrade.
        Maybe were witnessing the end of the transmission all together, not just the standard.

  3. To quote Jeremy Clarkson, “You’re heading towards an accident; it’s going to be fatal. The only solution is to swerve onto the pavement. But there are two pedestrians there. What does the car do? Basically you will have bought a car that must be programmed in certain situations to kill you. And you’ll just have to sit there…and there’s nothing you can do. These driverless cars, everybody goes ‘oh aren’t they clever they can stop at red lights’. They are going to have to face all sorts of things like who do I kill now. [Humans] are programmed to look after ourselves and these driverless cars are going to be programmed to do the maths, and say, lots of people over there, I’m going to kill you.”
    So, to answer your question, the answer is YOU.

    1. I bet by the time driverless cars really come around it’ll probably be a windowless jellybean safety cells that have monitors to the outside world all over. That way you can see it all without really having to actually experience it.

      1. And that way the car can project happy rainbows and kittehs instead of showing the Mack truck that’s about to kill you…

    2. The thing is, if there is time to swerve you out of the way, there is also time to stop or nearly stop both vehicles. And autonomous control will greatly reduce the chance of that now common extremely rare circumstance from happening anyway.

      1. I hope the cars will be programmed so that if there is potential danger they slow greatly. I think that’s what humans get mostly wrong causing most accidents due to human nature. Humans make a lot of mistakes, it’s just that the universe is lucky for us such that almost all of the time there are no significantly bad consequences.

      2. You’re assuming both vehicles are autonomously controlled and/or have car-to-car communication. Even if autonomous control becomes more common, there will be a significant period of time when the majority of the cars on the road don’t have any level of autonomous control nor car-to-car communication. Yes, the occurrence will be extremely rare on a statistical basis, but still… It’s an interesting thought exercise.

        1. I think there is a big question of unintended consequences when computers are forced to reconcile seeming paradoxes within their programming that make the question an interesting thought exercise when we are considering turning over control to a machine. See my much longer response to Skitter above for some fun light reading!

      3. So I am way late to reply to this party, so Skitter you might be the only one to get to read this. 🙂
        I think that really the specifics of the scenario aren’t exactly the issue, it is just an attempt to conceptualize the decision making power that we would be giving up with a self driving car, or a self driving aircraft, or with all all know AI working central planning magic to solve the worlds problems. The thing is, there is a real possibility for unintended consequences when we turn over the thinking power to a machine, however smart that machine might be. The machine is only going to be as smart as we program it (or as smart as we program it to learn, if we get yo that point someday). So you have proposed an alternate solution to the choices presented in the quandary, one with a theoretical outcome much more positive than the ones presented. So if the programmers at the Googles or the Teslas think of that, or other more positive outcomes, that’s good. But what if they didn’t? What if the machine has to make a greater good decision?
        Or, what if the software has an overriding edict to never harm human life, one of Isaac Asimov’s rules of robotics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics)? This seems good, but again in the realm of unintended consequences, what if it cannot choose either one of those presented options, because either one would harm someone? Would the computer just vapor lock, crash and shutdown?
        We are also discounting human altruism I think. Back to Asimov, in the I Robot movie, one of the only things they got even a little similar to the excellent book was the unintended consequence aspect. Spoiler alert, Will Smith hates robots because once one saved him and left a girl to die, because it assessed that he had a higher probability of living. But in that scenario he wasn’t thinking about himself, he was willing to sacrifice his life to save the girl, but the robot didn’t let him. How will self driving cars account for that? Crash into the school bus or drive into a guardrail? In the scenario presented by Clarkson, the car makes that choice for you, just like the robot that made Mr. Smith so angry.
        For myself, I am not looking forward to the self driving days. I don’t like turning over control like that. And I think that the idea of humans being able to accurately predict how a computer is going to react to a given complex scenario is a little questionable. Call it the ghost in the machine or whatever, but it seems like programmed logic doesn’t always react in the ways we would predict when presented with situations outside of direct programming.
        http://cdn.meme.am/instances/59261523.jpg

        1. I don’t know whether this will reassure you, or unnerve you to an even greater degree, but you’re giving up decision making much further up the tree from the extreme blockbuster movie situations being cited. And by doing that, even when only some of the cars are autonomously controlled, the decisions the cars make will reduce the chances of those situations arising in the first place (from nil to even less than nil).
          The response to that worst what-if, and many others, is to stop them from arising. It’s frustrating that these Hollywood scenarios are thought of (1) as a normative example and (2) as if the risk of injuring anyone isn’t taken extremely, extremely seriously. Remember the Takata airbag recalls? Big scary deal. Airbags spraying shrapnel, maybe exploding unprompted. My mom’s car was affected, and I told her to keep driving it, but ask the dealer to take care of it even before the recall was expanded to our state. The current count is 105 injuries and 6 deaths. That their airbags went wrong is a serious tragedy. But how many of them would have been injured or killed anyway with a good airbag? With no airbag? How many people were helped when the same airbags worked correctly?
          With a recalled Takata airbag or an autonomous vehicle, the odds are much more in your favor than without.

    3. Well the moral choice program will have to come after they are no longer confused by weather, which apparently they still are – there was a passing reference to it in something I saw that was actually a bit of boosterism for the idea, Google’s car at least is confused by rain.

  4. If I can send my car without a driver and have it pick-up a six-pack and a bag of chips, then I will welcome my new overlords. On a side note, that Tesla might be fast, but every single one I run across on the highway is driving in the slow lane at 55 obviously in the early stages of range anxiety. I am way too unstable to live with that everyday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here