Regarding the July 17 Work and Money column “Technology can enable dangerous daydreaming”: Thanks to Paul Gilster for covering the Tesla accident.
I am a longtime computer-design engineer in neuroscience and ophthalmology and a 16-year driver of an electric vehicle. While Nikola Tesla is my hero, Tesla Motors is in my doghouse for putting profits ahead of safety.
How, except for profits, can its CEO Elon Musk boldly place an interactive computer screen in front of a driver? We cannot safely drive autonomously. Human and animal visual systems are beautifully designed to recognize patterns. Computers can’t; they lack sufficient parallel processing.
Though a computer scientist’s DNA screams to solve all technical problems with more technology, in this case we have an infinite fool’s chase. There will always be visual situations that a human understands easily but a computer cannot.
Traffic laws are made by politicians, and car company lobbyists have convinced politicians that as long as their hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the roads, they are safe drivers, though accident and neuropsychology studies clearly demonstrate that the phone call or Facebook post, even done with hands-free, voice-controlled technology, remains a serious distraction that significantly reduces the driver’s vision.