A wild bear broke into a parked car looking for food. This set AI pundit Lance Eliot a-thinking…
The AI driving system of a self-driving car is always intact. A parked self-driving car is immediately able to become a moving car…. If the self-driving car is making use of its object detection system, even though the autonomous vehicle is parked, the AI driving capability would be alerted at [a hypothetical] pending crash that is about to occur… Depending upon what the AI developers anticipated, the AI driving system might activate the self-driving car and attempt to quickly drive away from the converging human-driven car.
For most makers of self-driving cars, this is an obscure "edge" case. But Eliot imagines a world where a self-driving car is parked next to a forest…
The human hiker has left the autonomous vehicle and has trekked somewhere deep in the woods. A bear meanders into the parking lot, looking for a free meal. If the AI driving system is using its object detection features, the bear would likely be detected. When the bear decides to wander directly toward the self-driving car, the AI driving system might activate the autonomous vehicle and drive away from the bear.
It is unclear if the bear will somehow divine that the self-driving car is capable of moving on its own accord… After a while, it seems plausible to suggest that bears will be concerned that those free meal containers (on wheels) seem to move away upon the bear approaching. This will possibly discourage some bears and they will steer clear of parked cars. Other bears might turn this into a game. Kind of hide-and-seek, of sorts. Approach a car, it moves away. Fun! Walk over to the car and see which way it goes next. A grand old time in the parking lot, that’s for sure.
And as long as we’re telling shaggy bear stories…
The odds are that self-driving cars will be designed differently on the interior than are conventional human-driven cars. For example, there is no need for a steering wheel and nor any need for the pedals. Those will no longer be included. The interior is opened up to allow for perhaps swiveling seats, possibly reclining seats so that you can sleep on a long journey inside a self-driving car. Given that type of interior, the bear is bound to find things a lot more comfortable inside a self-driving car than a conventional human-driven car. The next thing you know, bears will fall in love with self-driving cars, doing so because it is a quiet, spacious, and secure place to rest and relax. No need to worry about predators getting at the bear while relishing the plush and roomy interior….
A second question is whether the bears might figure out how to communicate with the AI driving system. You know, bears are pretty sharp. Perhaps a truly enterprising bear could convince the AI to take the bear for a cozy ride while inside the self-driving car.
Don’t be especially surprised if you start to see bears riding around in self-driving cars.
And please remember, you heard about it here, first.