Yes, I said it. Hitler theory. It’s a theory that I’ve thought about and held for a long time. It pertains to a mindset of creation and redesign in the Bay Area’s overindexed “design thinking” and “maker” culture.
Hitler sought to change the world. Obviously, the methods through which he attempted to do it were wrong but the basis of what he was trying to do provides a lesson for us. He sought to eradicate the “weaklings” in humanity and essentially start from scratch. I call this Hitler theory: when you create a concept from scratch without taking a look at what existed there before. There are other names for this such as white canvas or tabula rosa. I use the term “hitler theory” in particular because he sought to take an action to get rid of the old TO get to his tabula rosa.
When we take this in the context of autonomous vehicles, it gives us a framework for how companies are approaching the space. There are car manufacturers (or OEMs, Original Equipment manufacturers) that are starting from scratch and rethinking what an autonomous vehicle can do.
Let’s take Tesla and General Motors.
Since Tesla has had a chance to set up their own manufacturing plants, they have the ability (ideally) to change the way the ideal autonomous car is built. However, their take on it is that autonomy is more of a software problem. General Motors on the other hand, has publicly already announced that they will not be putting steering wheels or pedals in their Bolt EVs starting next year. Bold move, but they are fundamentally rethinking and redesigning the way autonomous cars are built. In some sense, this is an application of Hitler theory.
Then we have the Waymos and Ubers of the world.
While similar to Tesla, they believe that autonomy is a software problem, they are affixing sensors to the outside of vehicles to make them autonomous. In some sense, they are the opposite of Hitler theory because they are taking what already exists and transitioning it into the future.
Now what if we actually brought these together?
What if we could outfit old cars to become autonomous while also producing new cars for autonomy? To some extent, we have started doing this. An article from Wired shares:
Automotive supply chains span tiers of companies scattered around the globe. Automakers are constantly seeking to reduce cost and complexity—and increase profit—by joining forces with the folks whose strengths match their weaknesses. Now the industry is building the supply chains and partnerships that well help it push into a new self-driving age, one that demands manufacturing expertise, artificial intelligence know-how, mapping skills, piles of cash, and more.
P.S. I don’t condone anything Hitler did.