You instinctively know something evil is going on when a company’s motto is “Don’t be Evil.” As we learned in parts I and II when Google offers you “free” services (Gmail for example)—you’re the product.
Will Google be able to compete against a cryptocosm several orders of magnitude larger than it could ever become? At the heart of the matter is big data. Googlers feel big data has all the answers—but big data is no match for human touch and emotional intelligence. Would you trust software to drive your family today?
At the heart of self-driving cars is a battle of software (Google) vs. human vision. In the first camp is Google’s Waymo, Elon Musk’s Tesla, and Uber, explains futurist George Gilder, author of Life After Google. They, and a host of other autonomy projects are over-hyped schemes. Imagine seeing 50 times better than the so called self-driving vehicles today (they’re more like assisted driving systems).
Enter Austin Russell, founder of Luminar. Discovered by Peter Thiel through the Thiel Fellowship (you’re paid $100k for two years to leave college) and funded by Thiel’s 1517 fund, Russell is launching a revival of U.S. innovation in manufacturing hardware.
While others are enhancing existing lidar, radar, and camera systems with artificial intelligence, big data, mapping and software, explains Gilder, Russell is preoccupied with optics, lasers, and machine vision. Russell understands no amount of big data can make up for bad data from hopelessly inadequate vision systems.
Russell’s work focuses on lidar (light detection and ranging) systems that evaluate the world around them, explains Gilder. “Russell understood from the outset that if the car cannot deliver an utterly reliable real-time image and interpretation of the road ahead for at least two hundred meters in the dark, with just 10 percent reflectivity, it is a death-trap.”
There will be a Life without Google. And if entrepreneurs like Russell have anything to do with it, and he will, then it will be a life with perhaps a lot less evil.
Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.