Title text: This car has 240% of a horse's decision-making ability and produces only 30% as much poop.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Very rough|
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The programming of self-driving cars has been in the news lately, as engineers and philosophers debate what rules the cars should follow in dangerous situations (for instance, what to do when forced to choose between hitting a pedestrian or swerving into oncoming traffic). Randall, in the form of Ponytail, suggests one approach for solving this problem: to think of the car as behaving like a horse, using its own intelligence and ignoring dangerous commands in the interests of self-preservation. Ponytail claims that in the old days, riding a horse, or driving a horse drawn vehicle, was less dangerous than drunk driving today. Given the higher speed and the denser traffic today this is likely true.
Car engines are traditionally measured in horsepower, which (roughly) compares the power output of the engine to that of a horse. Randall suggests that an equivalent should be done for the computers in self-driving cars, comparing the car's ability to mitigate for a drunk driver and/or avoid obstacles to that of a horse. White Hat is either a salesman (as he has been before in 1350: Lorenz or 260: The Glass Necklace) or has just bought the car himself, bragging about its abilities to either his customers of friends, Cueball and Megan, in the final panel. He tells that the car has 200 horsepower (on the higher-end of average for a family vehicle) and 3.5 horse-intelligences in the computer. The latter statement is harder to compare to that of a human, drunk or not, or to that of a self driving car.
Note that riding a horse while drunk is in fact still dangerous and illegal in many places (for example, the UK and Ireland). A badly-driven horse can toss-off its owner, trample passersby, fall on bad surfaces, and destroy any wagon or carriage it's pulling. A self-driving car should be able to understand road rules, which a horse will not - which is presumably why the cars in the comic and the title text are both specified as being more intelligent than a horse.
The same car, if it's White Hat's own car, or the same or another car, if he is a sales man, is mentioned in the title text. The car has 240% of a horse's decision-making ability while producing only 30% as much poop. So even with 3.5 horse-intelligences it may only have 2.4 times the decision-making ability (assuming it's the same car). A cars "poop" would be it's exhaust, which is usually not found on the road in the form of apples... But it's weight could be measured and compared to that of the poop from a horse.
What he actually meant when he said 3.5 is that there's a 3.5 inch floppy drive in the hood of the car. Its called a floppy drive because back in the day diskettes had to pass a rigorous testing of flexibility in order to ensure that data could be rewritten (instead of it being static) as data back then was not like bits of today, but rather a chemical that was applied onto the disk. The problem with the chemical was that it tended to stiffen up disks so they would become tough and shatter, but luckily thanks to the advent of silica "floppy" disks that wound up not being a problem. Modern drives don't use this sort of method however, and rather rely on a series of small copper plates that raise or lower based on temperature when the computer writes to that disk (hence why your computer stops working if it overheats)
In 887: Future Timeline dogs driving cars are mentioned...
- [Ponytail walks right with Cueball.]
- Ponytail: Drunk driving was less of a problem before cars. If you got on your horse drunk and fell asleep, it could just walk home.
- [Zoom in on Ponytail's torso; she holds up a palm to proffer an idea.]
- Ponytail: And if you tried to ride into a tree, the horse could be like "No."
- Ponytail: Forget human drivers – that's the benchmark we should be judging self-driving cars against.
- [The front end of a car, with the bottom of the windshield and the right side mirror just inside the panel is parked before White Hat. He is holding his hand, palm up, out to the left to indicate his car as he brags about it to Megan and Cueball standing in front of him admiring the car. At the top left of the panel a small frame with a caption is placed over the panels frame:]
- White Hat: This baby has 200 horses under the hood and 3.5 in the computer.
- Megan and Cueball: Ooooh!
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