Volume 16 Number 9 - September 4, 2018

It is Sociology, Not Technology

An autonomous vehicle would be great for me. I could use the time spent driving much more productively. Read, write, think. Or lose myself in great music. A self-driving vehicle that could be requested on demand, like Uber, and that could be modified to meet the needs of a specific trip would be even better.

If I only need to go a few miles, a "capsule" that would keep me dry and safe would be sufficient. I wouldn't need the relatively large vehicles most of us drive. Think how that would change traffic in NYC!

But if it's a longer trip and I want to work, available charging capabilities, secure WIFI, and a comfortable table/chair for me and my laptop would be better.

I don't mind driving, but for fun I ride my motorcycle. I've had sports cars that were "age appropriate" and have a nice sedan now, but the actual act of driving is not a passion for me.

But for many people it is. They love being in control behind the wheel. Others would struggle driving alongside a "mobility device" with no one visible in the driver's seat.

The real impetus behind autonomous vehicles is safety. New cars have so many accident prevention and accident mitigation devices built in that the primary remaining cause of preventable accidents is the human driver. That's why mobility companies are working to eliminate that cause.

For me, to be successful autonomous vehicles don't need to be accident free. They simply need to be an improvement over people. A deer will likely still run in front of them on the highway. A child standing between parked cars may still run into the street chasing a ball. But will most people blame the technology for those accidents?

Roads filled with autonomous vehicles are years away because of sociology, not because of technology.

As you develop new products, what is the real purpose you have in mind? And will people accept your approach to fulfilling it?

I recently saw an ad for a water filtration device on the front of a refrigerator. I wonder what the purpose of that product is? We already have many options for cold filtered water; I fail to see how this product does anything but make me run into it every time I walk around the corner into the kitchen.

Is the purpose of your new product to solve a problem that anyone really has or cares about? Is it one they will emotionally accept?

Solving an important problem isn't enough. People have to be willing to adopt your solution. As you plan product introduction, don't let excitement about the technology let you forget the sociology its success requires.

The Starting Pistol

Leonardo Da Vinci:
"Learning never exhausts the mind."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"...but stagnation does."

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