Local Motors made the headlines when it created the first 3D printed car. Now it is back with Olli, a self driving car that has started operation in Washington DC, Miami Dade-County and Las Vegas. To be a self driving car is a good recipe to attract attention but in this case the attention is doubled by the capability of Olli to interact, in natural language with its passengers.
Olli is connected to Watson, the IBM "intelligent computer" that showed its smarts by winning Jeopardy few years ago and that is now being used in areas like medical diagnostic support. With the help of Watson, Olli can converse with its passengers in natural language.
You tell Olli where you want to go, and then you may ask how long is it going to take, or to point you to some interesting spots on the way. You may also inquire why it breaks when apparently there was no need for it...
What I found intriguing is the idea of a car that on the one hand may steal the driving pleasure from me but at the same time makes up for the resulting (potential) boredom of the trip by becoming something I can converse with.
Clearly, it will take some time, at least to me, to get used to converse with a machine, even one with a nice name like Olli. I am just starting to get used to talk to a machine, like my smart phone, to have it perform a certain task. From talking to converse there is a huge leap to make.
Interesting times ahead!