In these days television programmes and magazines are full of advertisements showing the wonders of technology applied to cars: they park themselves automatically, you can send a text msg or click on an app and the car switches its engine on and comes to collect you in the courtyard.
Good stuff but pretty useless in my opinion.
One amazing feature is the automated recognition of road signs that are then displayed on the dashboard or projected on the windscreen (on more expensive cars).
This is great because it improves safety.
Another surprising (for non techies) add-on is the pedestrians recognition and consequent automated braking if the car detects someone in middle of the road. Again, excellent help to safe lives.
All of these solutions were discussed, designed, funded between the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 00s. I remember to have seen an experiment with a toy train that was equipped with a mini camera and a processing unit to make the machine learn a series of different road signs and recognise them. It was the year 2002.
After 15 years it is shown as a great feature available also on city cars.
Some questions then come to my mind. Of course some time is needed to think, design, test and implement technological solutions. Some of them also need being standardised and this process takes time.
A new car from concept to commercialisation takes about 36 months.
European projects need years from the concept idea, the proposal writing, the proposal evaluation and (successful) funds allocation to kick off the project. Then the project takes 3 to 4 years to fullfil its goals, which means about 5-6 years since the original idea.
So the philosophical question is: what we consider present isn't actually the results of a set of actions happened in the past? This means that what is now brand-new and "innovative" actually it was innovative when it was conceived and now it could be considered old if compared with the current state of the art.
This is more perceivable with computers, software TV sets and smartphones whose life cycle is shorter but the basic concept is the same: do we live in the present or in an updated past?
I am a bit confused. What about you?
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