[FoRK] Air cars? Please?

Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Thu Mar 27 00:29:10 PDT 2008

silky wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 1:05 PM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> We're actually ahead of a lot of his notions, especially on the
>>  computing / cell phone / software side.
>>  A lot of the rest is doable except for either monetization issues or
>>  more commonly the likely disruption of current monetization. Those local
>>  minima are tough to bust out of. House construction, for instance, could
>>  be simplified and greatly reduced in price except that high end builders
>>  already have high end margins and would risk cannibalizing their market
>>  before they'd get ahead.
>>  Domes aren't doable yet, but automated high speed traffic is totally
>>  within reach, except for those pesky manual drivers everywhere and poor
>>  (i.e. often difficult) roads taking up all of the public space. My car,
>>  which can be had starting at $25K, can already comfortably do 150mph,
>>  it's just not legal to go even half that anywhere in the US outside a
>>  race track. This is true even though many Interstates have zones that
>>  could handle at least 120mph without significant increase in accidents.
> you've got to be kidding about the computer-driven traffic control
> system? no way would i drive in a world where a internet-connected
> computer system was controlling the scheduling.
It depends on how such a system would work.  Clearly, the Internet (or 
internet) connected part would only provide high level information, just 
slightly more detailed than we have now with Google maps in the Bay 
Area, as an example.  This data would be suitable for people as well as 

All actual driving would have to be locally controlled in a sealed 
system, just like a person or, on the machine side, like an avionics 
system.  If you are flown by large commercial airlines, you are already 
under computer control for pretty much the whole time, with humans on 
standby unless they want to get a little real stick time here and there 
to stay sharp.

Barring something like turning all traffic lights green or changing 
lights / routing to send opposing traffic at each other or disabling 
railroad safety signs, things already potentially exposed, the only 
Internet-level threat would be traffic jams, not actual crashes.

Most of the tech is a solved problem, at least for good conditions and 
most roads.  If there were a big economic reason to do it, we could 
probably have some form implemented in 5 years.  It's probably going to 
take 20 until we get around to it.

>>  I think there will be less and less need for innovations in travel and
>>  commuting and more and more desire to be fuel and pollution efficient
>>  which will mean that travel, beyond hyper-efficient transport of goods,
>>  will be mainly for pleasure. In those cases, you don't really want to
>>  completely remove the anachronistic status quo, at least not too much.
>>  We're all going to be in HD virtual worlds soon where you'll see more
>>  than you would if you were actually there, plus have all of your
>>  resources available and be able to walk away to see loved ones in a few
>>  minutes. Or I will anyway. ;-) Or I may mainly see the loved ones in
>>  such a world. (Poor substitute, but better than not.)
>>  sdw

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