Passion

Passion has overthrown tyrants and freed prisoners and slaves. Passion has brought justice where there was savagery. Passion has created freedom where there was nothing but fear. Passion has helped souls rise from the ashes of their horrible lives and build something better, stronger, more beautiful.

– Jim Butcher

The Verge just disproved a claim that no-one was making…

Much has been made of the Tesla Model S P85D (all wheel drive, 691 hp, 0-60 in 3.2 seconds and still seats 5 people) being compared to the sports cars of the day, such as the Verge making play with the Ferrari F12berlinetta.

Apparently there are still cars that can beat the Tesla in a drag race?

But no-one was really mooting the comparison. The videos on YouTube really show the Tesla showing off immediate acceleration and the video on The Verge is no different.

The Tesla plainly moves quicker from a standing start and it takes a few seconds for the 2 seater Supercar to overtake it. In a Bond movie, the F12 would be behind because due to the laws of scriptwriting, the road would have narrowed.

There’s also the issue that to achieve that sort of acceleration, the F12 has to be handled by an expert driver and it’s conceivable that multiple takes are needed to get the best possible result out of the supercars. The Tesla could be operated by my Mum (who is a confident but cautious driver). Just push the pedal and feel the seat leather envelop you.

No-one is really claiming the Tesla Model S, laden down with 5 seats and a roomy trunk, can beat an Italian-designed 2 seat supercar that costs 3 times as much. But the video shows that the Tesla has one great strength in being first away from the lights every time.

The Transport Singularity Approaches

Some people will view the release of driverless cars as a new step in the eventual progress of humanity while others will be horrified. Some people value the freedom a car brings while others love the mastery of the machine.

I would have to say my only real concern is that I’ve seen the software that most developers write and while that’s fine for apps and games and even trains that are restricted to rails, having them on roads is a different challenge. And we haven’t yet established whether the Google Car will interface with the Apple iCar or whether the latter will “Go Thermonuclear”. And I’m only half-joking.

Billions will be spent developing better intelligence in cars and every company will end up re-inventing the wheel again and again as they approach their end goal. Investment from governments will need to be made in homologation of car intelligence and not just in wheels, suspension and other controls. Some manufacturers will wait and just license the Google Car software which, on the face of it, is probably smarter.

But driverless cars will bring about a huge reduction in the number of cars required on the roads. A family may ‘subscribe’ to a car service rather than owning a car (which is just one step further than today’s hire-purchase leasing). Most of us don’t need a car to sit idle outside our house at night and idle outside our workplace during the day – our car can be out helping pensioners get their shopping or driving government workers to perform site inspections while still managing to be outside at 5:30 to drive us home. And there will be a knock-on effect on the ‘taxi’ industry.

The interesting point though is that I foresee a singularity in this sector. At some point, probably twenty years after the first commercial release, there will be a sufficient mass of intelligent cars for governments to ban human driving from public roads. By that time no-one will be producing ‘feature cars’ in any volume and no-one outside of specialist collectors will even own them.

The NONE OF THE ABOVE Manifesto

We all have differing ideas about what we want to see in Northern Ireland but the major commonality is a dissatisfaction with the status quo. We have mentioned elsewhere that a “None of the above” option would be welcome but there’s no way the local government (never mind Westminster) would agree to that as an option.

But…

In Northern Ireland there are 18 MP seats. To “buy” a slot on each form would therefore require £9000 and a little bit of time. Would people consider crowdfunding enough to pay the 18 deposits and then canvas among the group members to secure a nomination.

This is not about actually canvassing. I don’t want anyone wasting show leather trying to get “None Of The Above” votes. I don’t want posters or stickers or postcards or placards. I just want to see how it could move the needle. Maybe it’ll get nothing. Or maybe the 18 people who have to put their name on the list will all get elected. In that case, we will worry about the consequences.

I stood before in North Down, I’d be happy to help put together a brief for North Down in the Westminster elections. Deadline for nomination forms is the 9th of April. Anyone interested?