Simanaitis Says

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STEVE WOZNIAK, one would think, would be a proponent of fully autonomous vehicles. However, within the last month, Wozniak spoke at a J.D. Power Auto Revolution conference in Las Vegas where he offered less than enthusiasm. Indeed, Automotive News, October 28, 2019, reported his saying, “I’ve really given up” on Level 5, vehicles with full autonomy.

Background. This was quite the cogent comment coming from Wozniak. Indeed, back in 1976 Steve was a co-founder of Apple, together with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. It was Wozniak who invented the Apple I. Wayne served as administrative overseer, but left for other endeavors only days later. Within a year, Wayne had been bought out by Jobs and Wozniak. Jobs marketed the Apple I and continued an oscillating career with the company.

Stephen Gary Wozniak, San Jose, California-born 1950, American inventor, electronics engineer, programmer, philanthropist, and technology entrepreneur. Photo by Michael Förtsch, 2018.

As noted in Wikipedia, Wozniak sought a career in engineering, not management, and he gave up full Apple responsibilities in 1985. Since then, Wozniak has been a philanthropist and a knowledgable technology entrepreneur.

Unpredictability of the Road. Automotive News cites Wozniak’s view: “There is simply too much unpredictability on roads, he said, for a self-driving car to manage.”

“For now,” Automotive News writes, “he believes the burgeoning technology is better used to give drivers a safety net for certain situations.”

Wozniak’s skepticism for Level 5 allows plenty of room for vehicle assistance. AAAS Science’s categorization of vehicle autonomy describes the SAE International range of vehicle autonomy.

Six Levels of Vehicle Autonomy.

According to Automotive News, Wozniak said we’d be better off “if we were to modify roads and have certain sections that are well mapped and kept clean of refuse, and nothing unusual happens and there’s no road work.”

This characterizes Level 4, described by AAAS Science as “Where the industry wants to be.” By contrast, Level 5’s complete vehicle autonomy is described as “Somewhere over the rainbow.”

A Misled Public. “What we’ve done,” Wozniak says, “is we’ve misled the public into thinking this car is going to be like a human brain, to be able to really figure out new things and say, ‘Here’s something I haven’t seen before, but I know what’s going on here, and here’s how I should handle it.’ ”

“I don’t even know if that will happen in my lifetime,” Wozniak said. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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