So, Google has con­fessed fully self-driv­ing cars will never hap­pen – but they could have learned a les­son from mak­ers of new sex toy

The Herald on Sunday - - FUTURE SHOCK -

WHEN Prince sang about his lit­tle red corvette in 1982, cars were the last thing on his mind. Clearly a la­ment for his raw old chap, there’s an au­di­ble smirk colour­ing the wee man’s falsetto boasts of “smooth rides” and hav­ing “enough gas. It’s clearly smut – yet, a mas­sive hit sin­gle that in­fil­trated the main­stream by way of that most ob­vi­ous of eu­phamistic lyri­cal tropes: the au­to­mo­bile.

Yet, with­out the en­dur­ing cul­tural ma­lig­nancy of mechanophilia, Prince – or even rock n’ roll it­self – might never have ex­isted. Cer­tainly, driv­ing is un­doubt­edly a might­ily em­pow­er­ing and plea­sur­able phys­i­cal act, a showy mas­tery of me­chan­ics be­yond our ken. The in­her­ent dan­gers of be­ing in con­trol of a one-tonne killing ma­chine also clearly il­lus­trate that we of­ten only feel truly alive when dic­ing with death.

Prince, of course, was also well aware of driv­ing’s sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with sex. Gear sticks, head­lamps, fuel noz­zles, smooth curves and big boots – all clear ev­i­dence that cars were in­vented by a fel­low de­viant, one who would likely have been burned out of his house and banned from Twit­ter had he lived to­day.

We should all be thank­ful for that per­vert’s en­gi­neer­ing prow­ess though. With­out cars to in­spire rock n’ roll, it’s likely we’d have been left at the mercy of macabre cabaret like The Krankies for en­ter­tain­ment, filth­mon­gers who have been around so long it’s ru­moured they’re the orig­i­nal Adam and Eve. The Krankies will have su­per-con­ti­nent Pangea Ul­tima to them­selves in two bil­lion years time, per­form­ing the same dis­turb­ing act to baf­fled au­di­ences of di­a­mond-winged dol­phin trees.

It has to be said, how­ever, that in many ways Jimmy Krankie is the Scot­tish Prince – a pe­tite, un­com­monly fem­i­nine lad who be­came a main­stream su­per­star ser­e­nad­ing young­sters with un­speak­able smut. Yet, we have thank­fully been spared the depths of de­praved in­nu­endo to which the Krankies’ act would have sunk if Wee Jimmy was old enough to drive. Per­haps it’s best he’s con­demmed to the shell of an eter­nal child like Clau­dia in In­ter­view With The Vam­pire.

No sex, please

SO, with the ev­i­dence for cars hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact on the li­bido clear, it does beg the ques­tion – what soul­less eu­noch would aim to neuter driv­ers by re­plac­ing the only as­pects of our lives we re­main in con­trol of in favour of au­to­matic aber­ra­tions? Pre­sum­ably one who likes a wee drink but not taxi driv­ers.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s the CEOs of ma­jor car firms to blame for this fully-au­to­mated dystopian vi­sion, and there are two main vil­lains – pro­fes­sional ven­ture cap­i­tal whis­perer and am­a­teur paedophile hunter Elon Musk and Google’s John Kraf­cik. This week, the lat­ter ad­mit­ted that the his grand fu­tur­ist dream of a 40mph limit road net­work filled with conga lines of silently as­sim­i­lat­ing pods will never hap­pen. Bruce Spring­steen will still have a ca­reer in the fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to Kraf­cik, not even a quan­tum com­puter pro­grammed by God could deal with some of the ev­ery­day con­di­tions hu­man driv­ers of­ten nav­i­gate with lobotomised ease such as snow and re­flec­tions. Ci­ties? No prob­lem. Trucks on mo­tor­ways? It’s al­ready hap­pen­ing. But Salt­coats’ Asda car park in the snow as Grandpa McGinty re­verses out at 75mph with his monthly haul of Paxo fish bread­crumbs block­ing the back win­dow? Nope. This week, Kraf­cik ad­mit­ted that the self­driv­ing car that can op­er­ate in any con­di­tion, on any road, with­out ever need­ing a hu­man to take con­trol, is im­pos­si­ble. Not even with that alien tech from Roswell. “Au­ton­omy will al­ways have con­straints,” he told Wall Street an­a­lysts, many of whom broke their chins on the floor. “It’s re­ally hard. You don’t know what you don’t know un­til you’re ac­tu­ally in there and try­ing to do things.”

Sim­i­lar, per­haps, to re­verse en­gi­neer­ing crashed UFOs.

Buzz of the new

SO, fu­tur­ist car en­gi­neers cer­tainly don’t seem to be fans of rock n’roll, sex or, in­deed, cars. Rather, they favour im­pres­sion­is­tic Fritz Lang movies and hazy no­tions of gleam­ing utopias with­out dog s*** on the grass or crys­tallised snot caked on the un­der­side of of­fice desks. A gleam­ing, glitch-free world. The method is sim­ple – ap­ply­ing au­toma­tive pro­cesses to ev­ery­thing, over­rid­ing all, ap­par­ently un­de­sir­able, man­ual in­ter­ac­tion with ma­chines.

This surely can only have one in­evitable out­come – our species de­volv­ing into good-fornoth­ing, idle-handed sand­bags. More time for Twit­ter, of course, but you’ll soon be able to out­source your so­cial me­dia in­ter­ac­tion to a hard drive con­tain­ing a per­fect rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your neu­ronic frame­work.

The real ques­tion is – what is the point of be­ing alive in a fu­ture where we’ve ren­dered our­selves re­dun­dant? Per­haps the an­swer ar­rived this week.

As male CEOs of ma­jor car firms were ad­mit­ting fail­ure in try­ing to ren­der their ma­chines joy­less and sex­less, a group of fe­male sci­en­tists ac­tu­ally achieved the op­po­site with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary new sex toy.

The Lora DiCarlo group had been due to at­tend the pres­ti­gious In­ter­na­tional Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show (CES) af­ter cre­at­ing a “new mi­cro-

And fi­nally ...

MUCH of the test­ing of Google’s au­to­mated cars ap­par­ently takes place in some dis­tant dusty armpit called Chan­dler, Ari­zona – with the na­tives re­port­edly spooked at the sight of empty au­to­mo­biles zoom­ing around their roads. Per­haps be­liev­ing them con­trolled by Satan or Democrats.

In re­tal­i­a­tion to such in­ex­pli­ca­ble voodoo, many at­tacks on test cars have been re­ported in re­cent months. As­saults have in­cluded throw­ing rocks, run­ning them off the road, slash­ing their tyres and, yes, shoot­ing the spooky driver­less b*****ds.

“There are other places they can test,” one res­i­dent, Erik O’Polka, said. “They said they need real-world ex­am­ples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mis­take,” he con­cluded, per­haps hav­ing ex­hausted his vo­cab­u­lary.

Google, how­ever, will not be pur­su­ing le­gal ac­tion against the good ‘ol boys at­tack­ing their pro­to­types.

A spokesman lied: “We’ve found Ari­zo­nans to be wel­com­ing and ex­cited by the po­ten­tial of this tech­nol­ogy to make our roads safer.” As ex­cited as the orig­i­nal na­tives of the Amer­i­cas were upon Colum­bus’ ar­rival, then. ro­botic tech­nol­ogy that mim­ics all the sen­sa­tions of a hu­man mouth, tongue and fin­gers for an ex­pe­ri­ence that feels just like a real part­ner”. It won’t tell you to stop putting empty milk car­tons back in the fridge ei­ther.

The de­vice’s cre­ators are now al­leg­ing gen­der bias, how­ever – af­ter CES re­voked an in­no­va­tion prize they were plan­ning to award the com­pany – and, as if that weren’t enough – also banned them from show­cas­ing the Osé per­sonal mas­sager at the event. Lora Had­dock, founder and CEO, said her team had ini­tally been over­joyed when told they were to re­ceive the CES 2019 In­no­va­tion Award. Not as over­joyed as the firm’s qual­ity-testers, but still de­lighted to have won.

But, in­ex­pli­ca­bly, the de­vice was then deemed to vi­o­late CES rules, which frown upon “im­moral, ob­scene, in­de­cent, pro­fane” in­ven­tions. So why did OhMiBod, which al­lows part­ners to plea­sure each other from afar us­ing wifi – win an award in 2016? And don’t men­tion the creepy men’s sex doll at last year’s CES. Or even the VR porn com­pany which al­lows folk to watch their movies at CES as chil­dren saunter by un­awares. Lora fumed: “You can­not pre­tend to be un­bi­ased if you al­low a sex ro­bot for men but not a vagina-fo­cused ro­botic mas­sager.” In­deed.

It’s cer­tainly ironic it’s taken the pur­suit of plea­sure to in­vent a de­vice that guar­an­tees you reach your des­ti­na­tion with­out any help­ing hand – un­like the fail­ing car in­dus­try.

Kitt is the clos­est The Krankies will ever get to a fully self-driv­ing ve­hi­cle

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