For those old enough to remember Skynet from the Terminator franchise, we are one step closer to seeing artificial intelligence coming online and taking over the world. At least, that’s the conspiracy theorist side of things. Of course, if you are a bit younger, another movie called iRobot showed us that AI can lead us into a new understanding of what it means to be human (after some dramatic Will Smith-inspired action ensues).
So it should not be surprising that a new press release from Mercedes-Benz revealing they have begun adding ChatGPT via Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service to over 900,000 vehicles is somewhat polarizing.
Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX (which stands for Mercedes-Benz User eXperience) Voice Assistant is already one of the best voice-controlled infotainment systems on the market today. Still, beginning June 16, 2023, owners (with vehicles equipped with MBUX) can say, “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program” and have ChatGPT integrated via an over-the-air update almost instantly.
Although there are plenty of potential downsides to having an overly aware AI as your copilot, there are as many, if not more, upsides. Those with longer commutes or drives to unfamiliar territory can now ask their Benz, “How far until we get to our destination?” They can also expand their questions and have entire conversations with their car. You can ask your vehicle where the best pizza place is in the current area you happen to be driving through or even delve into the more profound philosophical thoughts that creep up on long drives like, “What is the meaning of my life?”
On a less profound level, ChatGPT makes drivers’ lives easier, as they don’t have to remember specific phrases and exact wording to get information from their voice-controlled infotainment system.
As with anyone surprised by an advertisement on their smartphone on something they were talking or searching about, data privacy is something MB takes very seriously. Mercedes says that customers will be made aware of what information is being collected and explain why it is being collected and allow owners to decide what they want to share.
Mercedes-Benz’s goals for adding ChatGPT to MBUX are multifaceted. Still, the main goal is to make owners’ cars their primary connection to the digital world and, in the process, allow for a more natural-feeling relationship between car and driver.
If reading this makes you feel conflicted, don’t be upset, as it is entirely normal. Depending on your age, you either have grown up in a world where Alexa and Siri are two names you’ve heard all the time and everywhere. Or you are a bit older and remember when asking questions out loud with no one around meant you needed to find a therapist.
Hollywood has shown us many potential futures due to artificial intelligence becoming self-aware. But like it or not, we have entered a world where cars can drive themselves (in a limited fashion), wake you up if you’re falling asleep at the wheel, and work with your home. So it should not be a massive surprise that Mercedes-Benz has brought up a car that can converse intelligently with its driver. It is a natural progression in what is an inevitable future for the automotive world.
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