Self-driving iPads

When people end up widely adopting self-driving cars, it is possible that cars will become anonymous. Rather than being objects of status and privilege, automobiles might evolve into a more granular version of buses. When you need a car, one will show up, but it won’t matter which car, any more than you currently care (in most cases) which car you are getting into when you take a taxi or Uber.

When the iPad first came out, I thought that would be the best way to think about it. Rather than being singular objects of status conscious owners, interactive tablets would be arguably be more useful if they were completely anonymous.

In this scenario, when you pick up any iPad, its camera looks at your face, retrieves your data from the Cloud, and then becomes, as long as you are holding it, “your” iPad. And this would happen for any digital tablet you pick up, for just as long as you are using it.

If you think of the growing data Cloud itself as the more “real” part of our shared digital ecosystem, then this makes perfect sense. After all, when you look out of any window in your house, you are looking into the same world outside. Reality itself doesn’t change based on which window you look out of.

But this way of looking at things goes against Apple’s revenue model, which is based on selling their hardware as a highly marked up object of status and privilege. Yet there is nothing that inherently dictates such a relationship between user and machine. One day the market might drive both the car and the digital tablet in the same practical direction: to become an interchangeable window into our shared digitally enhanced world, freely interchangeable with any other such window.

3 Responses to “Self-driving iPads”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    This is already happening in some high schools. When a class needs computers, a cart full of Chromebooks shows up. The students log in, and their email, documents, etc are all there, ready to go. The face recognition trick is probably a Chrome OS rev or two down the road. Nobody cares much about the actual hardware.

  2. Adrian says:

    I’d much rather have my data on a thumb drive on my keychain and be able to plug it into any device to make it mine for a while. I’ve been lobbying for this approach for a long time, but nobody wants to build it because their business models all involve having control of the data.

  3. Scott says:

    Any technology whether it be a car or iPad, when we are using it becomes an extension of ourselves. We become sort of a cyborg able to either be mobile at a greater speed then attainable by our physical limitations or able to enter a digital realm not accessible without the technology.

    While the basic functions of any technology may be the same, different models in the same class of technology may offer different levels of being a cyborg (i.e. added components installed in different models of cars and iPads). A car that can go 120 miles an hour is not exactly the same as one that can go 180 miles an hour or greater.

    Therefore, I wonder whether, looking at the world from different vantage points can really be the same experience. Is it not a different experience (reality) even though some of the components of the views are similar?

    It seems that based on the post that only at the highest macro level is the experience the same but as we delve into the more micro level that the experience can be slightly altered.

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