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Those smarty computers


L. D. Childers Columnist

  I recently read a newspaper article about new experimental cars that speak to one another. These smart cars have computers that can warn each other about potential driving hazards ahead. Actually, I only read part of the article. This particular article contained a great many words, a characteristic I tend to avoid when deciding which newspaper articles to read. In fact, I just read the first and last paragraphs of the article, which I generally find sufficient to form a strong opinion on whatever the subject may be. Yes, I could have read the entire article. I’m not totally stupid, regardless of what Gert says, but what kind of crazy person would read a whole long article about talking cars? I’m a busy man, after all.

  Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what these new intelligent cars might say beyond the obvious. “That green Subaru in front of you is about to stop suddenly. The guy in the blue Mercedes is drunk out of his mind. That red thing you just passed is called a stop sign.” What more might these smart-aleck cars communicate to each other?

  You know how, in the movies, computers are always rearing their ugly, disagreeable heads. There was Hal the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was a most uncooperative computer, which is really not what you want when it’s just you and the computer alone together in outer space. Yes, Hal heard what Dave said, but Hal did what was best for Hal, much like the end results when I talk to Gert.

  Hal wasn’t the only scary movie computer. There’ve been plenty of other examples.  Even the mostly good-natured robot in the Lost in Space TV series would occasionally turn hostile toward humans. In a way, I can understand the Lost in Space robot showing an attitude problem once in a while. For one thing, they named him “Robot.” How sad is that? It’s almost as if your parents named you “Hey You.”

  So I’m sure Robot felt unloved from the start, plus Dr. Smith was always having him do evil stuff. “Turn this crap into gold, and don’t tell anybody.” The usual stuff. And the whole time, little Will Robinson was all wide-eyed, pretending to care about the robot, all the while calling him “Robot.” It’s only natural the poor machine would be all conflicted.

  I read part of another article somewhere that said real life computers are evolving to think more and more like people think. The article said when computers scan the internet, they often spend hours watching videos of cats doing cute, adorable stuff.

   So anyway I began wondering. If we’re all driving those smart cars someday, will the cars talk to each other only about traffic and safety issues, or will they get bored with that kind of conversation? Do the scientist folks really know everything the smart cars might talk about?

  Ford F100: “Hey sweetie. What’s under that hood?”

  Toyota Prius: “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

  Ford F100: “I hear you can get pretty charged up sometimes.”

  Toyota Prius: “Yeah, I’ve been told I’m electrifying.”

  Ford F100: “I guess you noticed my spacious bed.”

  Toyota Prius: “You big gassy galoot.”

  Ford F100: “Heh. How do you like your driver? He looks like a goon.”

  Toyota Prius: “Lately he’s been treating my engine like dirt. I could use an oil change.”

  Ford F100: “Hey Baby!”

  Toyota Prius: “Shut up, you. What about that little floozy driving you?”

   Ford F100: “She’s got a heavy foot, but I can take it. I’m built Ford-tough, you know. By the way cutie, you notice that Buick coming the wrong way?”

  Toyota Prius: “I only have head-lights for you, Big Guy.”

  It doesn’t take much imagination to see trouble in the smart computer future. Maybe we’re better off if we don’t know what’s coming. 

  L. D. Childers lives in Henry County, and drives a stupid car.




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