Spam Autonomous Cars And Philip K. Dick

A terrifying and unsavory possibility was mentioned in the blogosphere this past weekend: what if autonomous car technology was combined with billboard trucks?


(Billboard trucks are an eyesore)

It's an idea that was raised by Reddit user CombustibleCitrus on the SelfDrivingCars subreddit, and it's one that serious thinkers in the industry have already pondered:

"If driverless cars become common, I wonder if there's the possibility that some types of unmanned vehicles could become a nuisance. Will our neighborhoods be patrolled by driverless ice cream trucks, food trucks, vending machine trucks and Google Streetview cars all day long? What about driverless billboard trucks? What's to stop them from clogging up the highways during rush hour?," the Redditor wrote.

Frankly, this is bad enough. However, SF great Philip K. Dick has always gone to a darker place, earlier, than you or I have.

In his 1963 novel The Game Players of Titan, Dick refers to homotropic news vending machines that not only advertise their wares, but autonomously seek out human customers:

At the door of the restaurant an automated news vending machine appeared, with a late edition of the Chronicle. It's Rushmore Effect bleated out "Special coverage of the Luckman murder case." The restaurant, with the exception of their party, was empty; the news vending machine, being homotropic, headed toward them, still bleating.

The last thing I want to see is a homotropic billboard truck that autonomously cruises in search of crowds of people.

If you think this could never happen in real life, take a look at these existing homotropic devices.

An even darker possibility exists - an autonomous billboard truck with your name on it. Targeted to you in particular - maybe a message from a creditor. Again, we have Philip K. Dick to thank for this device from his 1964 novel Lies, Inc.:

A creditor balloon.

"Oh, there you are!" the balloon piped at the amorphous mass of living tissue confronting Rachmael; it descended, tropic to the eye-eating creature. Obviously, it had located its target.
(Read more about Dick's creditor jet-balloon)

Via Motherboard.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/20/2014)

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