Driverless Cars & New Concepts

The gradual evolution of science and technology sometimes makes it difficult to see the point when we move beyond the thing itself onto the next level of thing. Confused? Yes that may have been unclear but I came across this quote via futuramb

One reason I will eventually move away from my chosen name for the technology — robocar — along with the other popular names like “self-driving car” is that this future vehicle is not a car, not as we know it today. It is no more a “driverless car” than a modern automobile is a horseless carriage. 100 years ago, the only way they could think of the car was to notice that there was no horse. Today, all many people notice about robocars is that no human is driving. This is the thing that comes after the car.

Martin over at futuramb suggests:

I agree totally that “self driving car” is a strange expression and compares well to “horseless X” but why not reinvent the word “automobile” to refer to what it really means – a vehicle that moves automatically e i by itself?

Self driving car is a mouthful and it is also silly to have a thing that attempts to explain itself in terms of something with an additional attribute. This moves us closer to a metaphor rather than a word – mind you, in the past, we tended to use Greek and/or Latin to enable the metaphor to become acceptable as a word. For example, Television: A mix from the Greek tele (afar) and the Latin visionem (act of seeing).


If we set aside the naming question, my issue is really whether this is really a new, new thing that needs a redefinition? The technology is advanced and awesome but is it really something so special as to lift it above the earlier technology. I don’t think so. But it is a fascinating discussion about the development of technology.