Great tech (in theory)

My car has a spectacular feature: it parallel parks automatically. Just cruise along parked cars, push the button and when there’s a big enough spot, the car parks. All I have to do is press the brake and gas pedals, the rest happens on its own. It’s quite a show! And it works, two times out of three. The third time it gives up half-way and leaves it to the driver to sort out the mess. Or it parks to far from the side of the road. Or too close – once it chipped a rim. Oftentimes we discuss pros and cons of new technologies on the assumption that they work perfectly. Cloud-based photo services: are they a gift that makes life easier or a way for internet companies to “feed the beast” with all the more data? Maybe both, but in most cases the problem is simply that your pics get lost or someone else images turn up on your phone. Think about Google’s self-driving cars – that’s really a spectacular idea, very much a core theme of science fiction. The team claims to have completed more than 500 000 incident-free driverless kilometers. I see no reason to question it. But before I ride in that car, I’d really like for much simpler tasks like parallel parking to have a 100% success rate. 67% is far too low for passenger rides in traffic.