Punchline

The car backs out of the supermarket parking space and into the driving lane.

Crash!

The collision had barely occurred, but the driver of the formerly parked car shot out of the driver’s seat lightning fast. Exclaiming to no one in particular and everyone in earshot: “This is not my fault!”

Well of course it isn’t. Nothing is. Except the good stuff. Which is solely to your credit.

Once upon a time there was a one-line joke: If our cars acted like our computers, we simply wouldn’t stand for it.

The joke was funny (and it gets even funnier with explanation) because of the notorious, mysterious, and perversely curious unreliability of workhorse desktop computers. They failed, they balked, they talked back and they sassed users forced to tolerate failures, disruptions and losses.

Just another adjustment to the Modern Age. Enter the experts who, after lengthy and mind-numbing “explanations” cured the problem in the same way bashing your head against a wall cures headaches: it feels so good when you stop.

Recently, the press has fixed its gaze on artificial intelligence, or AI. In particular, the wonders of driverless cars have been extolled.

What will they think of next?

Daily newspapers and magazines of every stripe offered reports ranging from brief articles to lengthy cover features, most accompanied with gushing, gee-whiz overtones.

Some writers pined nostalgically for long-forgotten, syrupy, romantic, Kerouac-like notions of “the open road.” More often, boosters masquerading as reporters asserted the better-than-human driving skills of AI as ensconced in very heavy, very fast-moving torpedoes with human payloads once known as motor vehicles.

Surely, the boosters claim, incidents such as the one opening the present Blog would not occur under AI conditions.

Surely.

Which part wouldn’t occur, one wonders? The accident? The inattentiveness? The blame-avoidance and responsibility-shirking?

Now let’s get this straight: better driving through AI.

What has happened to irony?

If cars acted like our computers . . .

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