Technology will thrive once we humans don’t slow it down. Not only literally in speed, but in phase-space hobbling its capacity to explore a much vaster range of solutions than the ones found when our needs are taken into consideration.
Even the technology that is apparently human centric, like transportation, can evolve at a greater speed if we realize that the more we delegate to autonomous systems, the more we gain.
I don’t like to own a car. And rest assured that my car doesn’t like to be owned by me… But at this point it would be very hard to do without one. (Or actually two.) One of my favorite futuristic scenarios is a fleet of electric cars, not owned by families, that can be summoned at will, and which stay in underground, or out-of-way parking spaces when not used. When we’ll have self-driving cars, this will be the way to optimize their use, achieving a huge increase in the energy efficiency of the entire sector, when you include the production and disposal cycle in the equation as well.
Brad Templeton just wrote a very nice entry on his ideas blog on the use of robot delivery as a bootstrapping mechanism to arrive to a wide diffusion of self-driving transportation.
I cannot wait for the new challenge this November*, to see how things advanced these past two years.
*Last year I complained to them that the website was still only talking about the previous race, and how could they be so behind, without realizing that it was not being held in Nov 2006 but Nov 2007! I still tell the story when I make a mistake in an appointment’s timing as the largest error I ever made up to now: by an entire year… 🙂