Tag: self-driving cars

Weekly Round-up | February 3rd, 2017

This week’s round-up brings us stories on climate change, robot overlords, copyright, and video games. As always, we also ask you to keep an eye out for interesting digital tidbits that we should include in next week’s round-up: you can send them, along with any hate mail, compliments, or cat pictures, to editor@castac.org. (read more...)

Human-Machine Interactions and the Coming Age of Autonomy

“Together we embark.” “Together we adjust.” “Together we drive.” These tag lines describe the Intelligent Driving System (IDS) concept car used in Nissan’s recent demonstration of possible futures in electric and autonomous driving. Unveiled by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2015, the IDS concept car[1] suggests rich possibilities for future driving experiences. What I’m especially curious to explore as an anthropologist who has long been engaged in ethnographic and anthropological research in the context of technology development is how the seemingly dichotomous notions of “togetherness” and “autonomy” come together in advancing self-driving cars.  What visions of collectivity and sociality are at play amongst those involved in the development of self-driving cars, and how will the vehicles themselves embody these visions? My thoughts reflect my stance as a social analyst interested in socio-technical endeavors generally, and the social effects of automation specifically. It also reflects my vantage point as a collaborator in the process of autonomous vehicle (AV) development, as I will discuss. I’d like to consider two ways in which, to me, the notion of autonomy raises questions about notions of sociality. One way pertains to the vehicle itself, to visions for how the vehicle will function and look, and to the experiences it will enable. A second relates to the ways AVs are being brought into being. Here I am interested in how new social formations are emerging as people work together across previously distant and newly emerging industries, knowledge domains and practices. In what way do the activities involved in the development of autonomous vehicles suggest the rise of new global assemblages in which ideals of autonomy stand at the center of the reconfiguration of social relations? (read more...)

What Drives Research in Self-driving Cars? (Part 1: Two Major Events)

Self-driving cars (aka driverless cars or autonomous vehicles) are among the most visible faces of Artificial Intelligence (AI) today. In continuation with Shreeharsh Kelkar’s excellent post on Artificial Intelligence last month, I would like to pick up his lead and complicate yet another story of AI – the story of the relationship between software developers and machine learning algorithms. For this purpose, I will use my ongoing field work among members of an academic research group as an example. The work of this particular research group centers around an experimental vehicle – a self-driving car (hereafter: SDC). During my field work I experienced a couple of surprises which challenged my earlier assumptions about the research on SDCs. That is, I previously assumed that the many promises invested in machine learning would lead to its extensive use in the experimental vehicles. However, this is not the case. I started to wonder why the researchers refrain from using machine learning even though they are officially members of an AI department. After introducing you to the field of SDC research in this first part, I will provide you with three tentative answers in an upcoming second post. (read more...)