A Glimpse into the Future of Shared Vehicles, EVs, and Solid State Batteries (Part 2)

The following (part 2) is based on a conversation I had with Roger Atkins,  EV Specialist and Founder at Electric Vehicles Outlook Ltd, who has been highly engaged with all aspects of the electric vehicle journey for the past 15 years. In this post you’ll find insights related to keys to career success, the future of solid state batteries, advantages and disadvantages with AI, and of course, electric vehicles. You can hear the full conversation on his podcast, Electric & Eclectic with Roger Atkins.  Roger: Let’s get back to electric vehicles now. There’s an acronym, which you’ll be familiar with called CASE, “connected, autonomous, shared, electric vehicles.” I think the two really exciting bits of that acronym are “shared” because society needs to shift to be less selfish, and “autonomous.” So, what would your sense be, Jack, on the timeline of us having fully autonomous vehicles that can take you anywhere and do profound things, because it can. Can you give us a little feel for that because you know this stuff? Jack: To your point, I have an EV that sits in the sun 12 hrs a day and is not driven. I pay $30-40k for it to just sit there. It is a resource that you use a few hours out of the day and then it just sits there. No other resource is like that. What if you own part of it? Say, 10% of it if 10 others own it too. You hail it and get in it; you sit in the back seat on your phone and do your email, then it drops you off and splits and does something else. You can’t pay a staffer to sit and drive people around as that’s expensive, but that’s the model for autonomy. You still own the vehicle, but you only use it for transportation. It’s much like a Venn diagram of Uber and your own personal vehicle.  People choose cars based on the way they look. You wouldn’t buy an EV with 10 horsepower that looks like a Ferrari because it doesn’t go fast, so it has to look good. It’s the buyer’s market so the style and design is important. You would choose what pool of cars you want to be in based on the kind of cars you’d like to be seen in. I really like British cars, I’ve got a LOLAT70 and I drive it on the street. I love the way they look, they’re light. I love Bentleys and Rolls and all that stuff. I think the autonomous model that will come is something car manufacturers are going to have to deal with. They are used to selling you something that they know is going to sit, and EVs potentially last 400,000 miles and aren’t worn out yet. One of the things I talked to Henrik Fisker about was what do you do with a viable power train and an outdated body style? Could it be that you take the car in and you get a new body put on it to freshen up its look? It would still be viable, still be yours, and cheaper than buying a new one. This was not my idea. This was Henrik’s thing he was thinking about.   Roger: I can sense that we are like minded on this madness of owning cars. I made a little presentation and delivered it a few times, which is called “Mass adoption of electric vehicles would be a big mistake.” It would be madness and we will have achieved nothing if we build 70 million cars a year like we do today. There is no need, the most inefficient part is not the motor, engine, battery, or fuel tank, it’s the utilization and ownership. I am completely with you on this and I am extremely passionate about understanding how we can get there. Do you believe with the work that you’ve done we can ever get to a point where artificial intelligence has sentience or an independent intelligence and capabilities? Jack: It’s interesting that art and technology follow hand in hand. The Italian movie poster for 2001 Space Odyssey has a guy holding a tablet computer in his hand and looking at it, and that’s how far ahead these are. It’s like who came first, art or tech? I always liked that movie, that’s my favorite movie. I saw it too when I was a kid, but I really didn’t really understand it.  The other dystopian movie I like is THX1138, George Lucas’s first big budget feature film. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. The center feature of that is the LOLA T70, exactly what I have. When I saw that movie I said, “Someday I’m going to own that car.”  Roger: Do you think, given your fascination with dystopian science fiction, that this could be a scenario where the only way we are saved from utter destruction is to cede responsibility to artificial intelligence?  Jack: What artificial intelligence does well, particularly neural nets is.. first of all let me back up. I don’t personally believe they’ll ever have human consciousness. I don’t think it can do that. If you ever look at a neural net, it’s a really simple little thing. It’s an array of software things that get reinforced by training. So the only training into a neural net is what we put into it. It’s good at pattern recognition because this array of things can get impressed with regions of the face that have a certain color or shape or something, and then reinforce on that. A neural net is blank and all of a sudden the software comes in and lays down what the neural net is supposed to have in each node. Then that gets used to do pattern recognition and if that doesn’t work, it lays in a new neural net. It is impressed with what is already known about it, so it previously knows something. If you know that about the