Autonomous Cars Will Own Themselves

Mike Heam, a Bitcoin developer, talked about a future in which there would be autonomous vehicles that, well, owned themselves. This is a Saturday catch-up story, since he gave this (still interesting) talk several years ago.

Here is the video of his talk; start at about 9:00 for this part of his talk.


(Mike Hearns at the Turing Festival)

"Actually, the vehicle owns itself. This is an idea that we call an autonomous agent... effectively, a computer that owns itself. It sells its own services... for money, and they can be hardware or software... And they take part in economic networks alongside human actors...

Heam also notes that Bitcoin would be part of what could make this happen, since there are no intermediaries required for doing business.

I think that Philip K. Dick already imagined this idea. In his 1952 short story A Present for Pat, robot cabs are really going to be like in this.

"Robots have no wives," the driver said. "They are nonsexual. Robots have no friends, either. They are incapable of emotional relationships."

"Can robots be fired?"

"Sometimes." The robot drew his cab up before Eric's modest six-room bungalow. "But consider. Robots are frequently melted down and new robots made from the remains. Recall Ibsen's Peer Gynt, the section concerning the Button Molder. The lines clearly anticipate in symbolic form the trauma of robots to come."

"Yeah." The door opened and Eric got out. "I guess we all have our problems."

"Robots have worse problems than anybody." The door shut and the cab zipped off, back down the hill.

I suppose you could negotiate for an autonomous car that could give you good conversation on the journey; or would you pay extra for silence?

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/28/2015)

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