The traffic signs thing is very interesting. It reminded me of a feature on self-driving cars that I saw or heard somewhere not long ago -- BBC radio, maybe. The car company spokeswoman -- I think it might have been Tesla -- swore that they already have the technology and all they need is more people to buy cars and practice using them, so that the artificial intelligence network can refine its learning about specific routes. The more times cars with a cloud-connected camera drive a particular road, the more information a network has about what's normal in that context and what's unusual.
And I would think teaching the cameras to spot traffic signs would be particularly useful in building up that knowledge database, which is why it's interesting to hear that Grrgle -- which apparently is also working on self-driving technology? -- seems to be using unpaid human labor to spot traffic signs in fuzzy pictures. Hmmm.
There was another feature on something else recently (sorry my memory is so fuzzy, it's probably advancing dementia), maybe on the topic of net neutrality. The interviewee, a man, was talking about the moment, relatively early in the history of Grrgle, when Larry Page changed his mind about advertising, decided that it wasn't evil after all and allowed himself to be persuaded to use that financing model. Of course that decision has been very beneficial financially for Page, Brin, and their employees and stockholders. But in this guy's opinion, which made a lot of sense to me, it was something like the beginning of the end for internet users, the moment when it became thinkable to be forced to give up nearly all our privacy in order to do anything online. Which is now just sort of a given, like the emperor's new clothes -- hardly anyone even questions it anymore.
I find that sad. And I'm wondering if this may not be a similar moment for automotive technology -- if the assumption that it's going to be perfectly fine for our cars to "know" everything about us and where we go, and to be connected to the internet at all times, isn't equally as naive as thinking that Grrgle would do no evil.