Author: Mark Lewis

The future of autonomous cars

This last May, a think tank called RethinkX, headed by Stanford University professor Tony Seba, put out a report with some rather remarkable predictions. They predicted that over the next decade, oil prices would crash, with global consumption dropping 30 percent. Why do they see this happening? The answer is what they refer to as ‘TaaS,’ Transportation as a Service. Basically, it is the idea that I’ve been building up to my my previous two articles on autonomous electric cars and the ridesharing industry that would use them. RethinkX predicts that TaaS “will offer vastly lower-cost transport alternatives —...

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Who needs electric cars?

In my last piece I looked at the history and current state of electric cars. 2017 is the year when they have the ability to go mainstream with ranges around 300 miles that cost less than $50,000. I also noted that one of the big advantages of electric cars is that they have lower maintenance costs and longer life expectancies. Indeed, there are estimates that current electric cars will be able to drive as far as 800,000 miles. The thing is, most people have no need for that, especially in a car that is basically a rolling smartphone or...

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The complicated rise of the electric car: part one

Odds are good that when you hear the word ‘car,’ the image that pops into your mind today has an internal combustion motor that burns gasoline. This hasn’t always been the case, though. In the early days of the automobile, there were multiple power sources vying for general usage. The Paris–Rouen motoring competition in 1894 had 102 initial entrants. In addition to petrol, the engine styles included steam, hydraulic, compressed air and electric. Indeed, the ‘winner’ of the final race was a steam-powered vehicle, but it was declared ineligible because it needed a stoker. However, the next 13 finishers...

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Welcome to our automated future

I’ve written a number of pieces now detailing how progress in technology is impacting our lives. The bottom line is that remarkable strides in recent years have made current realities out of things that would have fallen into the category of science fiction not that long ago. Many of these developments will wind up having a direct impact on employment and the work force. This isn’t a new phenomenon. That is what technology does. As long as there has been technology, it has altered the workforce. The challenges posed by this became clear in the industrial revolution. The term...

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Is Your Computer Your Best Friend?

Humans have a remarkable ability to project human-like characteristics on inanimate objects. Personification isn’t just a literary technique, it is something we seem to do on a regular basis with objects that surround us in our daily lives. This includes the machines that inhabit our lives. Roombas and other little robots that skitter around people’s houses are often treated more like pets than machines running simple algorithms to make sure that they cover all of a room. This leads to the question, how will we treat the devices that run much more complex software? How will be think about...

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