Monday, January 18, 2010

Of OnStar, Trucks, and Terminator

This morning, as I was driving my little brother to work, I had a thought. Back when Stephen King first wrote his short story, Trucks, cars did not have microchips embedded in them. Now adding to that idea the concept of OnStar, which is essentially remote control/monitoring of vehicles, and one starts to wonder if perhaps the idea of vehicles going postal on human beings is not that far in our future. Consider this scenario:

OnStar becomes automated, meaning no longer is the company paying people to watch over the cars, but is now allowing computers to monitor the chips in the car. Now, as a matter of course, we would want those computers to be as smart as possible, right? So we introduce artificial intelligence into the mix. If you are following along, that means we now have a creature somewhat like SKYNET (see Terminator for the reference) in control of hundreds of thousands of vehicles. I am certain you can see where I am going with this. If not, the final picture is this: vehicles running themselves into trees, engines suddenly dying on the train tracks, doors locking as the car accelerates into the nearest body of water.

Such a happy thought to have first thing in the morning. It makes me very glad neither of the cars I normally drive have OnStar.

This is in no way meant to say OnStar is a bad thing. Just like a monitored household alarm, the service is a good thing. However, taken to its illogical extreme, it is a bit terrifying. Probably better not to think about it.

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