You Can Bet On The Bring Your Own Algorithm (BYOA) Trend, Including For AI Autonomous Cars 

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The day may come when self-driving car riders will bring their own algorithm to the experience, enabling a personalization based on the rider’s preferences. 

By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider 

I’m sure that you are familiar with BYOB. Some say that BYOB stands for bring your own beverage. Alternatively, the popular saying refers to bring your own booze, or maybe bring your own beer, or ostensibly just alludes to bring your own bottle. 

To each their own.   

A less well-known acronym is BYOD. Have you heard that one? BYOD refers to bring your own device and popped up in the last several years. The idea is that when you go to work for a company, one approach to outfitting you with a smartphone and a laptop consists of issuing those devices to you (owned by your employer), while an alternative approach entails letting you use your own personal devices instead (you own them).   

What about BYOA?   

That’s a new one, so don’t feel downbeat if you don’t know what it refers to. The BYOA stands for bring your own algorithm. 

That’s right, the last part of the saying encompasses the notion of algorithms. It seems like everyone these days is talking about algorithms. Businesses are being told that they will someday be run entirely by an algorithm and there won’t be much for humans to do. Some naysayers are warning us to be on the watch for sneaky and underhanded algorithms. Those kinds of algorithms are devised to fool humans or cheat humans out of one thing or another. 

Algorithms, algorithms, algorithms.   

Now, the latest way to think about algorithms involves arming yourself with algorithms that are on your side, acting as your algorithmic protector. In this dog-eat-dog world, if businesses and others are going to use algorithms to come at you and try to manage you or take your money, it seems altogether logical and outright prudent to arm yourself with algorithms to fight back at the onslaught.   

Would you go unarmed into a knife fight? Of course not. You would want to have a sharp knife in your belt that could be brandished and used when necessary. The thing is, in terms of algorithms, by-and-large all that you are armed with is your noggin, and you don’t have any computer-based algorithms that are tuned and sharpened to be an armament just for you.   

Until now. 

Let’s assume that you nearly always carry your smartphone with you. Suppose you could load some algorithms onto your smartphone that would be used by you as a means to go toe-to-toe with any outsider algorithms that you encounter throughout your daily efforts. This makes a lot of plain sense, and you would be eager to have those algorithms loaded and ready to bear. 

Consider for example the BYOA that is emerging in the healthcare and medical realm. 

One day, you go to see your physician about a pain that you’ve been experiencing in your shoulder. The doctor takes a look, asks you to move your arms, and carefully studies the shoulder area. After a few moments of contemplative thought, the doctor tells you that you likely have arthritis in your shoulder. You are then told that you should take it easy on that shoulder for a few days, including using ice on it for about a half-hour a couple of times per day. Also, once you’ve done that for about a week, you are to let the doctor know how things are coming along, and a potentially new prognosis might be devised.

So far, this seems like an everyday ordinary visit to the doctor.   

Let’s mull over the situation. Unless you happen to know something about arthritis, you might not have any clear thoughts about how to respond to the doctor about the recommendation being made. The instructions seem to be sensible and therefore maybe you ought to do as the doctor has prescribed. Normally, you would likely thank your physician, pay the bill, and get ready to head home. 

But it just so happens that you have pre-loaded a BYOA for healthcare and medical uses onto your smartphone.   

While sitting there in the doctor’s office, you started the algorithm. When the doctor explained that it might be arthritis, you entered that diagnosis into the algorithm. At this juncture, the algorithm tells you that you should ask the doctor whether the use of a corticosteroid injection might be suitable to aid in reducing the pain and inflammation that you are feeling in your shoulder. 

You begin to chat now with the doctor about this added facet, which notably covers something that you would not otherwise have known to bring up. In addition, the algorithm next tells you to ask about whether you can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), which are widely used in such circumstances, and a reference to medicine such as ibuprofen or aspirin. 

The doctor already has in their mind a kind of healthcare and medical “algorithm” based on many years of medical training and experience. You don’t have that in your head, but you do have a smartphone, and you do have a BYOA that can help you when discussing healthcare and medical matters. 

One aspect of a BYOA is that it might be relatively generic and cover a topic such as healthcare in a general manner. You can liken this to having used an online search to find medical websites that could clue you about arthritis.   

An even better BYOA would be customized to you. Perhaps your entire medical history is loaded onto your smartphone and the BYOA can tap into that data. Thus, the algorithm might note that you have special dietary issues that could get in the way of taking aspirin, which is a matter specific to your health and not something that necessarily would come up when looking generically for details about arthritis aspects. 

  

You get the gistYou arm yourself with an algorithm, and it can aid in various situations. Your algorithm may interact with a human-based algorithm, such as the medical knowledge of the doctor, or it could interact with a computer-based algorithm. For example, maybe you are applying for a mortgage loan and do not know what this entails, so an online application form that is asking you mortgage application questions could be “confronted” by your BYOA that has to do with mortgages.   

You are bringing a knife to a knife fight.   

In fact, it could be that your BYOA is better than the algorithm that you are going head-to-head with. In that case, you are bringing a gun to a knife fight. For the mortgage example, perhaps the BYOA has some nifty tricks up its sleeve about how to get the mortgage application systems to give you discounts that it would not normally grant, but your BYOA has some special ways to squeeze you into those lowest prices. 

Not everyone is necessarily enthusiastic about the advent of BYOA. 

The company that does mortgages is not especially thrilled that you have a means to readily fill-out your mortgage application and potentially do so to your advantage over their advantage. Your physician may be bit irate that you are using a machine to question the medical advice that you are being given. And so on. 

As an aside, this can easily devolve, such as your medical doctor arguing that your BYOA is wrong or fouled-up, in which case you might challenge the physician about that contention, and the next thing you know, the physician might say “darn it, I’m a doctor, not an engineer” (just had to include that Star Trek-like pun here, sorry).   

Whether you like BYOA or not, the odds are that it will gradually take off and become relatively big business. People are going to want to have algorithms at their fingertips that know about all sorts of things. Going to the doctor? Use your medical-oriented BYOA. Buying a new car? Use your BYOA devoted to automobile purchasing and aim to get a solid deal on that hefty purchase. 

There is a role for BYOA when it comes to riding in self-driving cars. Not many are yet thinking about BYOA and self-driving cars, so you can be the first on your block to be well-informed on the topic.   

Here’s an intriguing question: Will there be any basis for using BYOA when it comes to the emergence and use of AI-based true self-driving cars? 

The straight-ahead answer is a resounding yes.   

Let’s unpack the matter and see. 

For my framework about AI autonomous cars, see the link here: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/   

Why this is a moonshot effort, see my explanation here: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/self-driving-car-mother-ai-projects-moonshot/   

For more about the levels as a type of Richter scale, see my discussion here: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/richter-scale-levels-self-driving-cars/ 

For the argument about bifurcating the levels, see my explanation here: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/reframing-ai-levels-for-self-driving-cars-bifurcation-of-autonomy/   

Understanding The Levels Of Self-Driving Cars 

As a clarification, true self-driving cars are ones that the AI drives the car entirely on its own and there isn’t any human assistance during the driving task. 

These driverless vehicles are considered Level 4 and Level 5, while a car that requires a human driver to co-share the driving effort is usually considered at Level 2 or Level 3. The cars that co-share the driving task are described as being semi-autonomous, and typically contain a variety of automated add-on’s that are referred to as ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems).   

There is not yet a true self-driving car at Level 5, which we don’t yet even know if this will be possible to achieve, and nor how long it will take to get there.

Meanwhile, the Level 4 efforts are gradually trying to get some traction by undergoing very narrow and selective public roadway trials, though there is controversy over whether this testing should be allowed per se (we are all life-or-death guinea pigs in an experiment taking place on our highways and byways, some contend). 

Since semi-autonomous cars require a human driver, the adoption of those types of cars won’t be markedly different from driving conventional vehicles, so there’s not much new per se to cover about them on this topic (though, as you’ll see in a moment, the points next made are generally applicable). 

For semi-autonomous cars, it is important that the public needs to be forewarned about a disturbing aspect that’s been arising lately, namely that despite those human drivers that keep posting videos of themselves falling asleep at the wheel of a Level 2 or Level 3 car, we all need to avoid being misled into believing that the driver can take away their attention from the driving task while driving a semi-autonomous car.   

You are the responsible party for the driving actions of the vehicle, regardless of how much automation might be tossed into a Level 2 or Level 3. 

For why remote piloting or operating of self-driving cars is generally eschewed, see my explanation here: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/remote-piloting-is-a-self-driving-car-crutch/   

To be wary of fake news about self-driving cars, see my tips here: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/ai-fake-news-about-self-driving-cars/ 

The ethical implications of AI driving systems are significant, see my indication here: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ethically-ambiguous-self-driving-cars/   

Be aware of the pitfalls of normalization of deviance when it comes to self-driving cars, here’s my call to arms: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/normalization-of-deviance-endangers-ai-self-driving-cars/   

Self-Driving Cars And BYOA   

For Level 4 and Level 5 true self-driving vehicles, there won’t be a human driver involved in the driving task. All occupants will be passengersThe AI is doing the driving, but today’s AI is not sentient. 

In other words, the AI is altogether a collective of computer-based programming and algorithms, and most assuredly not able to reason in the same manner that humans can. I mention this aspect because many headlines boldly proclaim or imply that AI has turned the corner and become equal to human intelligence. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the outsized headlines seek to amp the matter further by contending that AI is reaching superhuman capability. 

Why this emphasis about the AI not being sentient? 

Because I want to underscore that when discussing the role of algorithms as infused into an AI driving system, I am not ascribing human qualities to the AI. Please be aware that there is an ongoing and dangerous tendency these days to anthropomorphize AI. In essence, people are assigning human-like sentience to today’s AI, despite the undeniable fact that no such AI exists as yet. 

With that clarification, you can envision the AI driving system as an algorithm. It is highly complex and has lots and lots of algorithms within it, yet still, it is an algorithm and not sentient.   

When you go for a ride in a self-driving car, the AI driving system will determine how to drive the car and take you on your specified driving journey. All that you would usually do is specify the destination and the AI driving system would take care of the rest. 

Currently, most of the AI driving systems are relatively narrow in that they focus almost entirely on going from point A to point B. You get into the vehicle, indicate you are heading to the grocery store, and the self-driving car whisks away, taking you there. It is assumed that you will sit quietly and merely enjoy the ride.   

Of course, that’s not what happens in real life when using a human-driven ridesharing option.   

Think about the last several instances of your going in a ridesharing vehicle. I don’t know how talkative your drivers have been, but mine seem to be chatty cats. Besides talking about the weather and sports, there is definitely some discussion devoted to the ride itself.   

For example, the driver might sometimes ask if you are in a hurry or not. Some drivers will try to expedite the ride if they can. Others don’t like bringing up such a topic because it could imply that they are going to drive dangerously if you say you are in a hurry.   

Another facet that sometimes arises is the route that the driver is going to take. Most of the time, probably you don’t care what the routing consists of. Assuming that the driver is using a GPS mapping system, the odds are they are going to be leveraging whatever is the best route to your destination.   

That being said, if you’ve ever been to New York City, you probably know that when the traffic is snarled, there are tricky ways to get from point A to point B. A typical GPS navigation system is not necessarily going to reveal those insider-only driving sneaks. As such, if you are a local New Yorker, you might tell the driver that a faster way to proceed involves taking a route that you suggest, rather than relying on the GPS system. 

What has any of this got to do with BYOA? 

I’m glad you asked. 

When you opt to use a self-driving car, the AI driving system is a type of algorithm, and it is empowered to drive the car and get you to your destination. Unlike a human driver of today’s ridesharing, the AI driving systems are not generally prepared to cope with the interaction between the “driver” and the passenger.   

In the future, this will undoubtedly change.   

Passengers inside self-driving cars are not going to put up with AI driving systems that are unresponsive. Sure, at first, simply riding in a self-driving car is going to be exciting and people will fall in line with whatever way the system was designed. Gradually, riders are going to wise up. They are going to favor an AI driving system that can be interactive and adjust to the requests or needs of the passenger. 

Some automakers and self-driving tech firms will accommodate this added need, while others will be slow to do so. Eventually, on a competitive basis, they will all need to pretty much meet the same desired capabilities, else those self-driving cars not so outfitted are going to be avoided by the paying public. 

Assume that eventually, the AI driving systems are interactive with their passengers. You have now opened the door to BYOA.   

Let’s take a glance at a typical scenario. 

You get into a self-driving car and are going from your home to the doctor’s office for that aching shoulder. You are in a hurry. Also, you know that there are some streets on the way that have some rutty potholes and others that have speed bumps. Going down any of those streets is going to make the car heave up and down, which is going to cause you added pain due to your aching shoulder.   

Keep in mind that by the normal convention, you would simply provide the doctor’s office address, and the rest of the ride is then upon the shoulders of the AI driving system (well, that was a sore pun, for sure). You would be nothing more than a lifeless lump of baggage or luggage that just so happens to be sitting inside the self-driving car. 

Imagine instead that the AI driving system can be interactive. You might tell the AI driving system to avoid the specific streets that you know will cause the car to bounce around. Also, you are aware that the fastest way at this time of the day entails avoiding the school grounds since the kids are getting out of school for the day and the traffic near there will be clogged. 

Away the self-driving car goes, driving to the doctor’s office while abiding by those preferences. 

Or you could have simply used your BYOA. 

Yes, on your smartphone you might have loaded an algorithm for dealing with AI driving systems and self-driving cars. The smartphone would electronically transmit to the AI driving system your riding preferences. A type of handshake and electronic dialogue would take place. Your smartphone would then let you know how the electronic negotiation went.   

This specific scenario was just a taste of the types of driving preferences someone might have. There are plenty of driving aspects that will be favored by one person over another. For example, maybe you prefer a smooth ride without any bumps or shimmering. Then again, some people relish being in a car that feels the road and gives the impression that you are on rough roads. 

Another aspect would be related to your normal routines. For example, perhaps on the way to work each day, you like to swing through the local drive-thru coffee shop to get a honey oat milk latte. The moment that you get into a self-driving car for your morning commute, the BYOA would instruct the AI driving system to include the drive-thru excursion on the way to the office.   

For more details about ODDs, see my indication at this link here: https://www.aitrends.com/ai-insider/amalgamating-of-operational-design-domains-odds-for-ai-self-driving-cars/ 

On the topic of off-road self-driving cars, here’s my details elicitation: https://www.aitrends.com/ai-insider/off-roading-as-a-challenging-use-case-for-ai-autonomous-cars/ 

I’ve urged that there must be a Chief Safety Officer at self-driving car makers, here’s the scoop: https://www.aitrends.com/ai-insider/chief-safety-officers-needed-in-ai-the-case-of-ai-self-driving-cars/ 

Expect that lawsuits are going to gradually become a significant part of the self-driving car industry, see my explanatory details here: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/self-driving-car-lawsuits-bonanza-ahead/ 

Conclusion 

Some are bound to react to the BYOA for self-driving cars as a horrible idea and one that is destined for grave dangers.   

Here’s why they would (mistakenly) think this. 

Suppose the BYOA told the AI driving system to go at superfast speeds, such as 120 miles per hour. On top of that, imagine if the BYOA instructed the self-driving car to run over any pedestrians that got in the way of the vehicle, such as jaywalkers that might wander into the street when the self-driving car is coming along.   

That would be terrible. But that’s not what the BYOA would be able to pull off.   

The AI driving system is not going to undertake illegal or stupid driving moves simply because the BYOA asks to do so. The AI driving system would presumably be programmed to allow for accommodating passenger requests that are reasonable and feasible. That applies whether the human passenger directly makes the request, perhaps using a Natural Language Processing (NLP) interactive feature similar to an Alexa or Siri, or whether the BYOA does the same via electronic messaging.   

You might liken this to the medical doctor that isn’t going to suddenly book you for surgery on your shoulder simply because you ask. The doctor would push back at such a request. Please note that I’m not likening the AI driving system to what a human might do, but only emphasizing that there are usually limits within which the BYOA is going to “win” in what it might request or suggest.   

So, the fears of a BYOA that makes the self-driving car become a wild ride like at a theme park is quite unfounded. Assuming that the automaker or self-driving tech firm has devised the AI driving system adequately, there will be flexibility toward accommodating the requests of riders but bounded by what is suitable for a proper way of driving a car. 

All told, be on the watch for a rising interest in BYOA, across all areas of life and our daily existence.   

One last comment, some have used BYOA for a different purpose, namely, meaning to bring your own alcohol. I don’t think there is much traction these days with the alcohol version of BYOA. Hopefully, people will think of the word algorithm rather than the word alcohol when it comes to seeing headlines about BYOA. 

If not, there are going to be some quizzical looks when patients start showing up at doctor’s offices armed with alcohol instead of algorithms.   

Say, maybe that mistake won’t be all bad, come to think of it, making the visit a bit less stressful. 

Copyright 2021 Dr. Lance Eliot  

[Ed. Note: For reader’s interested in Dr. Eliot’s ongoing business analyses about the advent of self-driving cars, see http://ai-selfdriving-cars.libsyn.com/website]