Originally posted here: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.bartz/posts/10207028422727577

Self-Driving Cars

Referring to: http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-george-hotz-self-driving-car/

Some of you might have seen this article about George Hotz creating a self-driving car by himself in his garage using simple tools and a new idea of how to program AI (I don’t know much about this topic, so forgive me, if I am already mistaken here).
But the most interesting part of the Article is actually in the end, where Hotz is predicting how he is thinking the future will develop.
For everyone here that is to lazy to click on the link and scroll down, I copied the passages.

Start Quote:
Sitting cross-legged on a dirty, formerly cream-colored couch in his garage, Hotz philosophizes about AI and the advancement of humanity. “Slavery did not end because everyone became moral,” he says. “The reason slavery ended is because we had an industrial revolution that made man’s muscles obsolete. For the last 150 years, the economy has been based on man’s mind. Capitalism, it turns out, works better when people are chasing a carrot rather than being hit with a stick. We’re on the brink of another industrial revolution now. The entire Internet at the moment has about 10 brains’ worth of computing power, but that won’t always be the case.
“The truth is that work as we know it in its modern form has not been around that long, and I kind of want to use AI to abolish it. I want to take everyone’s jobs. Most people would be happy with that, especially the ones who don’t like their jobs. Let’s free them of mental tedium and push that to machines. In the next 10 years, you’ll see a big segment of the human labor force fall away. In 25 years, AI will be able to do almost everything a human can do. The last people with jobs will be AI programmers.”
Hotz’s vision for the future isn’t quite as bleak as The Matrix, where robots mine our bodies for fuel. He thinks machines will take care of much of the work tied to producing food and other necessities. Humans will then be free to plug into their computers and get lost in virtual reality. “It’s already happening today,” he says. “People drive to work, sit in front of their computer all day, and then sit in front of their computer at home.” In 20 years, the sitting in front of the computer part will be a lot more fun, according to Hotz, with virtual worlds that far exceed anything we’ve managed to build on earth. “Stop worrying about the journey,” he says. “Enjoy the destination. We will have a better world. We will be able to truly live in a society of the mind.”
Hotz started the autonomous car work because he sees it as Step 1 in the revolution. Transportation is an area where AI can have a massive impact. He hopes to take his technology to retail next, building systems that provide flawless self-checkout at stores. His desire to have AI take over so many jobs stems partly from a near-religious belief in the power and ultimate purpose of technology. “Technology isn’t good or bad,” he says. “There are upsides like nuclear power and downsides like nuclear bombs. Technology is what we make of it. There’s a chance that AI might kill us all, but what we know is that if you’re on the other side of technology, you lose. Betting on technology is always the correct bet.”
All this talk represents an evolution in Hotz’s hacker ethos. He used to rip apart products made by Apple and Sony, because he enjoyed solving hard puzzles and because he reveled in the thought of one person mucking up multibillion-dollar empires. With the car, the retail software, and the plans to roil entire economies, Hotz wants to build a reputation as a maker of the most profound products in the world—things that forever change how people live. “I don’t care about money,” he says. “I want power. Not power over people, but power over nature and the destiny of technology. I just want to know how it all works.”
End Quote

What we have here, it seems, is a genius, but someone who already went a bit to deep. A savant syndrome guy. I guess we all need to agree that what Hotz is predicting might become true very quickly. An obsoleteness of human workforce and therefore a life that has to be filled with other things. So Hotz tells us that, after we are all freed by the advancements of technology, we can finally sit in front of the computer all day and get lost in virtual realities. Because this is what we all want.

In the last 100 Years many old jobs and crafts disappeared, while many others came into existence. The lamplighter disappeared, the programmer appeared. The drive of our society comes from one idea: Progress. This is Hotz’ basic assumption. We are progressing as humans and as a society. That’s why he is seeing the end of slavery not in the change (or advancement) of ethics but in technology. Which is a bit of a nonsense of course, as slavery on plantation in the southern states of the USA was still very lucrative when it was abolished. The abolishment of slavery was more likely a combination of changing ethics (in christian churches, but also due to the Age of Enlightenment), technology and the advancement of capitalism (1. capitalism works better when people are free, 2. technology doesn’t necessarily create capitalism). I would also like him to tell a seamstress in Bangladesh that „for the last 150 years, the economy has been based on man’s mind“. Let’s face the truth, with all or technological advancements we are actually not more happy than a Pirahã in the Brazilian rain forest or a monk in Bhutan. The Descartian Utopia these people talk about is very unappealing to me, but it aligns with our society because it feeds from capitalism. There is money in Descartes.

The self-driving car is one of the next big things. Many companies are working on it’s realization and it’s something that will come without question. Making a machine taking over driving the car will cause way less injuries and deaths (close to zero I guess), more efficient usage of energy (connection of all cars and therefore more efficient use of roads, speed etc.) as well as less frustration and more free time for the human being that used to drive. But the truth with all that „progress“ is, that it is actually not progress that is happening, but merely „change“. You need to realize that, when you acknowledge that actually many people oppose the idea of a fully self-driving car, because they don’t like the thought of being made obsolete or they just enjoy driving. Many people like the idea to be able to hand the wheel over to the computer on the highway, while they still want to drive by themselves in the city. (Maybe because they think, they are smarter than the machine, which in most cases will not be the case anymore after the technology went through a few cycles). The thing is that there are two worlds colliding. The world of math and the world of un-math. Rationalistan and Emotionian (R. Gwisdek). The Brain and the heart. Maybe in 25 years the world is not more than zeros and ones. After we outsourced everything we possibly could, as we already radically outsource as many things as we can. One next thing will be driving, another will be shopping. Eventually all brick & mortar shops might disappear and I can finally order everything online. The big thing missing in e-commerce still is the grocery-shopping, but it’s coming closer quickly, and in not such a far away future I will order and it might arrive only a few minutes later. Outsourcing is the history of our „success“. Since at least the agricultural revolution we started to assign certain tasks to people. Now all of a sudden you could become a full time philosopher while you outsourced the action of getting food to someone else and we have become more filigree in each century since than, more and more specialized, doing less things but more proficient, while the other ones take care of the other stuff. We outsourced making clothes to Asia, we outsourced the education of our children to schools, we outsourced most of our responsibility as a society to the government, and many males outsourced cooking to their wives. Hotz sees the next big advancement in outsourcing basically everything to machines. The completely outsourced human. The Age of the Outsourced. Harry Potter and the Outsourcerer’s Stone.

But why stop here? Why don’t we also outsource our whole existence to machines? Make machines live life for us on planet earth. As live is inherently meaningless why should we do the hard suffering of being alive? And than in a few million years an extraterrestrial species will visit planet earth and find a fully technologized planet that is bare of any life but busy with a simulation of life that is happening somewhere in between all the zeros and ones.

Hotz predicts the Antithesis to primitivism, or maybe actually he predicts the Thesis and primitivism will come after. Anyway what needs to come is the synthesis, the connection of both. A future in which we use our new technologies in a more targeted way, instead of just using as much technology as we can.

My friend Jonas gave me the link to a study that sums up the problem very quickly:
The use of technology is always a win situation as well as a loose situation.
The invention of the alphabet, what Sloterdijk calls „maybe the biggest scientific invention in history“, and writing opened a whole new world to us, but made us loose a lot of capacity to memorize. Now everyone would agree, I guess, that the Alphabet made us win much more, than what we lost by it. So an evaluation has to be constantly made with new technologies about which one of the sides weights heavier. Sometimes it might be good not to write things down and try to remember, as well as it might be good not to use your gps, but to find home by yourself.

A robot making a t-shirt will be most likely programmed to produce the exact same t-shirt over and over again. An antithesis to nature where everything is chaotic and unique. As long as we don’t program robots to produce uniqueness in items, there work can never be valued even close to the same as human work. And even if we manage to program that, the touch of a human hand creates something different, then the touch of metal. Same as it is different eating with your fingers than eating with your hands (and we don’t notice that). The future will hopefully see the disappearance of McDonalds, Ikea and H&M and the rise of an age of the unique and individual. It’s already starting all over the western world as an antithesis to the technologically induced Gleichschaltung of all things.
Virtually all the different commercial city centre of the westerns capitals these days do look the same. Rüdiger Safranski writes about this in his book „Zeit“ (Time) as something also induced by the ability of traveling very quick (Airplanes) through the world and the rise of the Gleichzeitigkeit („at the same time“). As I can be in New York in 7 hours from Berlin I actually expect it to be very similar to where I came from and therefore appreciate the McDonalds and the H&M. Ironically it makes traveling in this kind of sense virtually a nonsense. Traveling with an Airplane extracts the experience of traveling to the destination. A few hundred years ago traveling from Berlin to Paris was a whole experience by itself. You arrived as a different man. Today it’s a 1,5h plane ride or 10h in the car.

So what our world is actually craving for is the uniqueness of places, things and people again. H&M clothes have a very short half-life. Because they lack any individuality and perceived quality.
The antithesis is this: http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-made-atelier-savas-leather-jackets/
A jacket that is so well made, so unique, individual and expensive that you will wear it for the rest of your life.
Instead of a life derived of any work (stop to work and you will age much quicker), that is run by machines, while we are in the Matrix, the future is hopefully seeing a rise of the quality craftmanship creating unique things using technology in a targeted way, where it makes sense and not using it, where it takes away. A connection of Rationalistan and Emotionian.

Note1: I might interpret Hotz words completely wrong and they might be even ironic.
Note2: Please falsify me, as I am looking forward to a discussion.

Originally written: 23rd of December 2015
Revised: 12th of May 2016
Author: Joseph Bartz