Today at work, Angela shared with us this story: Google’s self-driving car takes blind man to Taco Bell, and I just couldn’t be happy for anyone, not Google, not the blind man, and not even Taco Bell, who finally got a customer that could afford a car.
Perhaps my irritation with Google over their self-driving cars comes because it was two years ago that they announced their new development, and I remember sitting at PubCon, hearing Matt Cutts (the face of Search Quality at Google) acknowledge the feeling that Google had recently lost ground to spam and alienated white-hat website owners, “but we made self-driving cars!” he said.
That was no consolation. At the time, the only capability we’d seen the self-driving car to possess was basic obstacle avoidance. Essentially, it looked about as smart as a Roomba, but instead of cleaning the room, it burned fossil fuels and added to traffic on the road. Was this new development going to benefit any of us in the foreseeable future? It’s been two years, and they’re not even beta testing.
In the same month (Sept 2010), Google tried to convince us that it was our poor typing skills that were holding back our search experience, so they blessed us with Google Instant. (Google Instant never fires until I’ve finished typing my search query. No help there, Google.)