How important is the human experience in the development of autonomous technology? Ten-time Indianapolis 500 competitor J.R. Hildebrand joins Bryan and Alex to talk about his work with Stanford, what the self-driving industry can learn from professional racing, and how tech on the track can influence consumer-grade vehicles.

Listen On
Apple
Google
Spotify
iHeart Radio
Share

View Episode Transcript

Episode Transcript

Alex Roy 

Hi, everyone. This is No Parking. The podcast that cuts through the hype around self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence. I’m Alex Roy.

Bryan Salesky

And I’m Bryan Salesky.

Alex Roy

I’ve been into cars my whole life. And for the last few years, there’ve been people suggesting that when self-driving cars arrive, no one’s going to own a car and no one will drive. I’ve even heard people say we won’t be allowed to drive. One of my favorite movies, and a lot of people make fun of me for this, is this movie Real Steel, where in the future, like boxing is outlawed because it’s dangerous, people get hurt. And so these robot boxers… But by the end of the movie, it’s pretty obvious that the robot boxers aren’t that great. They can’t win unless a human’s involved in some way.

Recently, I learned about these people trying to set up an autonomous AI artificial intelligence racing league with full-size race cars, with no one inside racing each other. And I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense. So here to talk about the future of car racing is Indycar driver JR Hildebrand, my old friend. He competes for Dreyer and Reinbold racing. He’s been near the top of motor sports for at least 10 years. But behind the scenes, he’s also working on developing self-driving technology at Stanford. Now I’m not aware that there’s anyone else out there as familiar with both the human side of racing and the artificial intelligence side that well. We’re going to talk about that. I’ve known him for a few years and for all the stuff he’s done, he’s still just a regular person, which I love. JR, welcome to the No Parking podcast.

JR Hildebrand

Thank you, sir. I just need that recording on the back end of this.

Alex Roy

You’ve been a car guy your whole life. When did you start? How did you get into cars?

JR Hildebrand

Man, I mean, I got into it… My dad had a vintage race car when I was a kid. So, he had a ’68 Camaro that was an ACE, like a hillclimb road racing car. From when it was new, it had been a race car for its entire life. He picked it up, was never actually a Trans-Am car, never competed in a Trans-Am race, but was of that style. So it was a hobby for him. I grew up in just outside of San Francisco, in Marin County, not exactly a hotbed for motor sports or for race car drivers, but, between going to Sears Point and Laguna and seeing everything that came to those two places, through the nineties, which was really an epic kind of time period, both for modern motorsports, as we sort of know it today. Grew up around that with my dad. And I think in some way, being around vintage racing actually gave me a really unique perspective on just motorsports generally, where it comes from, where it is, where it’s going. You see all these different shapes and sizes of vehicles in different formats and different disciplines being at a vintage race. And you’ll go to Monterey Historics or whatever it might be. So that was, I think in some ways, really what made me interested in cars was just seeing this wide variety of stuff. And it’s all, you know, they’re all race cars, right? So they’re all the gnarliest, craziest version of whatever that was over the years. And that was really where it started for me.

I always tell people I played varsity baseball in high school. I was committed to a lot of like normal kid things or whatever when I was growing up, but then didn’t start racing go-karts until I was 14, which by today’s race car driver standards is pretty late in the game. I mean, most guys that are my age that I’m racing against now as a professional started racing go-karts when they were six or eight or something like that. But I always tell people, if you’d have walked into my bedroom when I was 10, I had no baseball cards anywhere and a couple of hundred hot wheels cars laying around. So, cars are just definitely, they were a big part of my upbringing. Kind of love for the vehicle was definitely a part of the intrigue in racing. And, I’ve been super fortunate that I’ve been able to kind of combine those two things together.

Bryan Salesky 

Did you have to sorta work at becoming good? Like since you started in your teenage years? Or did it come natural?

JR Hildebrand

I think initially, when I first got into go-kart, I’d driven a go-kart a couple of times when I was 10 and 12. And a big part of it was just accessibility. There’s baseball fields or basketball courts or whatever around the corner, pretty much anywhere you grow up in United States. Motorsports is a little bit different like that. So I didn’t have a local go-kart track until I was around that age, kind of 12 or 13. They opened up the go-kart track. It’s still there now at Sears Point in Sonoma. So that was suddenly much closer to home in terms of being able to get there and go do it. I was definitely, I had a knack for it right away. It’s funny thinking, you know, now we’ve gotten into, this year in particular in 2020, virtual racing has become this massive thing. It sort of exploded. It really had its moment when NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 and everything was getting canceled back in March. Everything shifted virtual for a period there. I was racing computer games like Sports Car GT and all these like early modding games way back, almost like 20 years ago. Now it’s funny thinking about how mainstream that’s become from being such a kind of…

Bryan Salesky

Way more realistic and way more fun.

JR Hildebrand

Back then, it was such a different thing. But I think even then, having that sense of just ‘where’s the apex’ and ‘how do you get around a corner’ and ‘how do you think about the racing line around a racetrack’. That was my prep for the first couple of times that I drove a go-kart and it did just kind of instantly translate at the track.

Bryan Salesky 

It’s a remarkably technical sport, actually. I think a lot of people don’t fully understand kind of what goes into it. Can you break down for us a little bit of, kind of what’s going through your head when you’re in that seat and just the thousand different things that are happening at once?

JR Hildebrand

There’s a bunch of things that you have to gain a very clear technical understanding of just to be able to do it basically, right? Like you have to understand what the racing line is. You have to understand the dynamics of weight transfer and where you’re slowing down coming into a corner, why you’re doing it in that way, when you stop slowing down and start transitioning to accelerating, the timing of all of those things. There’s a basic understanding of those things that, in essence, apply to any corner at any track, right? And then over time you start developing… And this is the thing that then some people pick up really quickly and it becomes really natural or it’s just something that they experienced naturally. And not that it has any implications for whether you’ll become a pro or not, but some people it takes more time, is recognizing that every corner at every track in every situation is going to actually be a little bit different from each other in terms of how all those things do to really optimize that scenario.

And so now, kind of fast forwarding I guess, to being a professional, an IndyCar, modern Formula 1 car collects like a gigabyte of data per lap. You can really zoom in on all of these little things, even as a driver. Like I’m looking at an incredible amount of data to understand where is that hundredth of a second through this corner? I think it’s a sport where it has a lot of value, as a participant, to be able to understand the technical side of what all these things are. To be able to look at the data, make sense of it, without it being overwhelming, understand what all the squiggly lines are, being able to see your speed trace overlaid with another driver’s speed trace and quickly pick out, ‘okay, this is where, my apex speed is a little bit slower here. Alright, I can see it’s because I’m holding onto the brake a little bit longer while I’m heading into the corner and he’s releasing the brake, being able to roll a little bit more speed. We’re getting back to throttle at the same point’. So that’s just a little tiny game that he’s making by doing that and going out on track and being able to do that. In the last couple of years of my career, I would say, I’ve been racing… This is my 10th Indy 500 this year. So I’ve been racing national level for that long. It’s amazing to me to realize even now how important it still is just to tap back into that basic human instinct of what’s happening in the moment while you’re doing it at the same time. There’s so much information, you can get bogged down by how much you can pick everything apart and become a little bit detached from how it’s actually just feeling and your physical, mental alignment while you’re doing it as an athlete. So that’s an interesting part of my continued journey as a professional race car driver.

Alex Roy

How old were you when you transitioned from this understanding of physics and the technology, from that being instinctive, to actually understanding that there’s math and science involved in driving a car faster?

JR Hildebrand

Well, I think that was a part of… To get back to one of Bryan’s questions just a minute ago, that was all actually, I think, a part of my ascension early. I was a committed math and science student. I was on my way towards getting an engineering degree and would have loved.

Bryan Salesky

In fact, you turned MIT down, as the story goes.

JR Hildebrand

Yeah. And so, if the circumstances had been a little bit different and I’d ended up going to college and getting an engineering degree, I’d probably still be in this industry, just doing something tangential or whatever to being a race car driver. I’d be the guy figuring out how to make the car faster for the race car drivers or whatever. The fact that I was a little bit older when I got started, I think, kind of allowed for all of those things, that understanding of the physics and what is actually going on rather than just having to completely go by feel and a more loose grasp of competition and speed and all of these things. The fact that those two things were a little bit more lined up for me when I was getting started, along with some great opportunities to, in the first two or three years of my racing career, to move from a go-kart to a race car pretty quickly. It just all lined up for me. And I think that that actually played not an insignificant role in being able to progress quickly.

Alex Roy

Can you explain what was going through your mind when you applied to colleges? And you deferred going to MIT to stay in racing, and then what happened? What was the decision tree there?

JR Hildebrand

Driving a race car, being involved in motor sports, basically just doesn’t line up, as a driver especially, just doesn’t line up with being in school. Particularly in high school. It’s not a high school sport. You’re not going to practice after classes. Nothing’s designed for it to work that way. So I was starting to miss some school. I was starting to get some opportunities racing that were forcing this to be more of a conflict for me than you’d want it or need to be experiencing doing something else, doing another sport. Maybe more like gymnastics or something like that. When you’re really committed to something like that, it just takes you off on kind of a different path relative to your education.

And so I could see the trajectory of this thing, motorsports, starting to crank up. I was one of just a few young American guys at that time who was focused on open-wheel, in the late nineties, early two thousands. The open-wheel scene in America was kind of broken up. You had Champ Car and IndyCar, and they were both separate and nobody really knew how that was going to work itself out. NASCAR was very much the focal point for young American guys. And so because of that, because I was focused on open-wheel and that was just because they were faster cars and I thought road racing was more interesting and more fun when I was doing it. I could tell that I was on this ladder to climb and it was up to me how far up that I was going to get, and I needed to ride the momentum train, basically.

So, between my junior and senior years, I just decided I would prepare to graduate a semester early. And in addition to applying to a bunch of UC’s, which weren’t going to give me any time off between graduating high school and college, I applied to just a couple of private colleges, MIT and Stanford, just to see if I could get in, for one, because I thought that’d be fun. And because they were going to be a little bit more lax in terms of maybe I’d get a year off or two to figure out where all this was going to go. Because at that point it was also clear to me that it’s either, this is going to keep going somewhere until I’ve really gotten somewhere and that’s going to happen within a couple of years, or I’m going to get to a point and either run out of funding or talent or whatever, and I’m going to plateau. And at that point, I’m not going to sit around here and waste my time at some junior formula level. I would just go back to college. That, to me, was actually my thought process. It wasn’t like I was looking for an excuse to not go to school. And so, you know, I got accepted at MIT. They allowed me to defer initially for a couple of years. And they ended up deferring for four years in total. At that point I was basically driving IndyCars, so they said reapply at some point if you want to come back.

Alex Roy 

Can you break down the different racing series, like IndyCar versus the others and the differences between them?

JR Hildebrand

For sure. In the States, in the U.S., I think you’ve got three tier one. You could call it four or five maybe, but you’ve got IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR. I think as drivers, we think of those as being the three top tier racing series that have… Mainly because Formula 1 is clearly the global pinnacle of motorsport. IndyCar, because it’s got the Indy 500, Long Beach Grand Prix, some of these big events that still stack up among the top events in motorsports globally, we sort of think about it in that way. NASCAR, a very different model across the board. And then just a half a step down from that you’ve got global endurance racing. So Le Mans, the WEC is what races in Europe, mostly. Globally Le Mans is on their calendar. IMSA, in the United States, runs all the endurance championship events over here. So, if you were just to categorize that as open-wheel racing, Formula 1 and IndyCar, NASCAR, stock car racing, and then endurance sports car racing. Those to me are the three major categories with rally as a little bit of a separate thing.

Alex Roy 

Wait, explain this to me. You’ve spent all these years working on learning how to improve the car from a quantitative standpoint. It seems to be like shackling your own excitement, like this visceral excitement. And then you begin working on autonomous vehicle development back at Stanford. This, the school that I guess you chose not to go through 10 years earlier.

JR Hildebrand

I didn’t get in.

Alex Roy 

Well, you didn’t say that. You were rejected by Stanford. So how did you convince Stanford to let you come back in any capacity and begin working on autonomous vehicles?

JR Hildebrand

Well, you know Alex, every once in a while people realize that they just need a race car driver. And that’s what happened to me at Stanford. They have a program there that’s called the REVS program at Stanford. It’s where a lot of their autonomous vehicle development happens. You’ve seen MARTY, the drifting DeLorean. Shelley, which was named after Michele Mouton, a famous Audi Quattro Group B racer in the, I guess, in the eighties into the nineties. She’s, the car, Shelley was an Audi TT-RS at the time. It’s now a Volkswagen GTI that they do track driving with. And so at Stanford through the REVS Program, they basically have these couple of cars among a few other cars that are also sort of on the fringe of really specific autonomous vehicle development and research. These are not cars that could be put on the street and deal with normal driving circumstances. But they’re really great at certain things, which in this case, one of them is drifting, like Ken Block style, like Gymkhana, and the other is just ripping laps at a racetrack. Could be any racetrack. They tested Thunder Hill in Northern California.

And so basically my introduction to this whole thing, I got called to be the man in the man versus machine battle for Audi of Europe’s self-piloting RS6 at Sonoma Raceway for a Road and Track article. So they have this self-driving RS6 that would rip laps at various tracks across the globe. They started in Hockenheim. They came over, did a deal at Sonoma. I got brought in basically just to set a lap time, a comparison lap, for Audi’s car. But an interesting part of it was that Stanford, through their partnership with Audi… And the Volkswagen group was there. They had their car. The professor was there. Some of the students were there that were part of the program. Where this whole relationship actually kicked off was not that I ended up being quite a bit faster than Audi’s car.

Alex Roy 

Wait a second. Who won? You won? You beat the car?

JR Hildebrand

I was quite a bit better than their car was. The interesting piece of it was that they let me go for a ride in the back seat of this thing. Like before I got in and set my lap. Or I was in the front seat. And they had a safety driver, an engineer, that had his finger on the shutoff button or whatever.

Alex Roy 

The big red button. Bryan knows a thing or two about big red buttons.

JR Hildebrand

Anyway, to make a long story short. We went out and it was really interesting to me because I feel like I just immediately went into coaching engineering breakdown mode when I was watching the car. Like, as if I was sitting as a passenger with a person that was driving the car. What might I be doing differently than this guy? How do I feel? It’s kind of, how are they? You know when you’re coaching somebody, you’re thinking, you’re trying to figure out for yourself how are they thinking about driving around the track so that I can give them feedback that’s gonna make sense right away. Sometimes just, ‘hey, you got a break later here’ doesn’t really address the problem. So I was thinking about that as I was sitting in the passenger seat of this self-driving car. And came in and just gave what I thought it was doing. Like, ‘Oh, it seems like it probably, it’s really prioritizing straight line breaking, straight line acceleration. It doesn’t seem to me like it has any sense of the elevation of the tracks. So I don’t think it’s probably basing much of what it’s doing on how it’s loading up or doing any of this stuff.’

Alex Roy

JR, I got to stop you right there. Bryan, this sounds suspiciously like conversations I’ve heard you have talking about how an autonomous vehicle that carries passengers around a city should behave in order to inspire confidence and comfort for people who will use it for like a service. Because just because a vehicle is safe going through city, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s comfortable or driving the way a passenger would want it to. I mean, how involved are you in guiding the development of that? And like, the car’s comfort driving.

Bryan Salesky 

Well, I’m probably not very involved. I’m a bad subject for how to tune a vehicle for comfort.

Alex Roy 

But would you put your mother in the car? Who decides?

Bryan Salesky 

No. Definitely not that either.

Alex Roy 

So how is that decision made? Like who gets to sit in the back like JR does, for a future robotaxi type vehicle?

Bryan Salesky 

Yeah. I mean, I think that you can actually get pretty scientific about it. And there’s actually quite a bit of studies around motion sickness, for example, on where the different control parameters need to be set to not induce motion sickness in certain people. Right? So I think it’s actually a pretty technical activity where we set a bar collectively with our car partner and then we test to it. It’s not so much… You don’t want to make it too subjective where it’s based on how people feel. You want to try to boil it down into something that can be quantitatively assessed and dialed in. And car companies do this all the time. I mean, for example, a Lincoln versus a Cadillac. They each have their own sort of driving feel. Their own… They call it the DNA, the driving characteristic. Each self-driving company is probably going to have that sort of DNA. And you may even be able to select it at some point say, ‘well, I want comfort today. I’d like, whatever other modes there might be’.

Alex Roy 

Wait, so JR, so you’re telling these guys, these Audi engineers, a professor, and saying to those guys what the AI RS7 could do better to get around the track faster. Is that correct?

JR Hildebrand

I think it was more at the time, it was more just like, if you’re asking my opinion of what I think it’s doing and how it’s building its lap, this is how I think it’s doing. And I was, don’t get me wrong, I was super impressed by the thing. I went and I did that track drive first and then had to get in and I was sweating it a little bit. I was like, I’ve never driven this car around the track. I might need a couple of laps to beat that. It was definitely… The things that it could do. I mean, it was breaking at least as hard as I was. It was in the middle of the corner at peak. It felt unrefined to me basically. It felt it was obviously driving a lap or it was selecting a racing line just from a bird’s eye view, basically. So applying a more simple set of metrics to how it would choose where to go on the track than I would. But elevation changed all over the place, off-camber corners, all sorts of different stuff that, as a race car driver, you kind of know right away. ‘All right, I’m going to have to hold on to the apex of this corner a little longer and give up a little bit here to open the next corner up because it’s over a blind crest and I need to make sure that I commit to throttle early.’ There are some of these little things that I know to do, and I knew the track.

Alex Roy

But the big thing is, were you able to teach them enough to program the vehicle, to beat you going around the track, same conditions, same setup?

JR Hildebrand

So I guess I’d say fast forward. We did this little thing. The Stanford guys were there. I think they were, I don’t know if impressed is the right word, but surprised at least, that just after sitting in this thing for a lap that I had that much feedback. They were basically like, ‘You just reverse engineered how we programmed this thing in one lap.’ And so they brought me on board initially, honestly, just to be a data point. To provide a high performance human data point and data set for them to compare their cars against. Like where are we losing time relative to a professional race car driver on track? And that quickly migrated into, ‘Okay, race car driver guy actually has a lot of relevant and interesting feedback about what’s going on here.’ And I think from being so, and this circles back to the beginning why I got into racing and what makes race car drivers good at what they do today, I was able to look at the data and because I knew what I was doing so well, I could pretty easily start to pick apart where the differences were between things that I was doing and what the car was doing. And then that starts to really quickly lead into this whole conversation of how is the autonomous vehicle then generating its lap? How is it “thinking” about how to do this? How are they programming it to do these things and how could that be done better? So, today, I’m still quicker than the autonomous car.

Alex Roy

Okay. So great.

JR Hildebrand

But it’s damn close.

Alex Roy 

Let’s get right to the question, JR. Okay. We watch human beings drive cars today on race tracks. People love it. Companies drive R&D knowledge and improve the state of the art of racing and past cars we can buy. Why would anyone want to watch two autonomous vehicles race against each other? I mean, what lessons will be learned from that and what would people derive from that? And then I want to hear Bryan’s take on this.

JR Hildebrand

I guess my perspective on this is there’s a very real and fair case to be made that by having autonomous racing, if it’s just in your example, we’re talking about Roborace, right? It’s just autonomous vehicles against autonomous vehicles. I think that there’s a very clear case for advancement in that space to be made by doing that. Right? So as a technical exercise, for those who are interested in being in this space. I can tell you just from the work that I’ve done at Stanford, it’s obvious that just in a totally… Like in a vacuum outside of competition, just going through the exercise of trying to figure out how to get these cars autonomously to do these things, at maximum limits, as well as a human driver can, has some definite and clear value to a fan. It’s hard for me to think that that’s more interesting than watching humans do it. Unless, and this is the only caveat that I would say, is unless you’re going to tracks or running at speeds or doing crazy stuff that humans would never be allowed to do.

Alex Roy 

Bryan, answer me that. How far are we from being able to put two or more autonomous race cars in a track and see them race each other? From a technical standpoint, and then beyond that from an entertainment standpoint. Because if they’re identical vehicles, what’s the interesting thing about that.

Bryan Salesky

Don’t ask me? I don’t work on autonomous race cars. There’s an autonomous racing circuit today. I don’t even know much about it. I don’t watch it. It’s not helpful to our cause at all, really. I mean, a lot of those cars operate totally open-loop with a lot of trial and error to try to dial it in. And it’s just not what we do. Right? We’re not about speed.

Alex Roy 

Could you explain what that means. Open-loop?

Bryan Salesky 

We’re not about trying to operate vehicles autonomously at the edge of its limits of control, right? There are some interesting control things that come out of that and mechanical things and all sorts of stuff. Right? The reaction time, response time, latency means a lot. Latency, meaning the time between when you input a command and the car actually executes it and then closing the loop on that. All of those things are really interesting concepts. And they get amplified when you talk about really high speed operation, but we don’t operate at any sort of high speed for what we’re doing. So it’s a very different problem for that reason.

Alex Roy

But Bryan, you build autonomous vehicles for people eventually to ride in, in cities. You don’t find it exciting, the notion of watching autonomous cars go really fast and compete against each other?

Bryan Salesky

Sure. I personally find that exciting. Sure. That would be exciting. Yes.

Alex Roy

And JR, have you seen any of these series, like Roborace? Have you ever watched any of them? Like the two autonomous cars go against each other? Have you watched it yourself?

JR Hildebrand

I mean, I’ve seen the video that comes out from them doing these competitions. Not anything more than that. So I can’t say that I’ve had any more… I don’t have any closer view of what’s going on there than you do.

Alex Roy

I find it fascinating that a professional IndyCar driver and the leader of one of the world’s largest autonomous vehicle developers, that neither of you guys are remotely enthused about an autonomous racing series. To me that’s everything. So what is it that people really want to see about cars going fast? It’s the human component.

JR Hildebrand

At the end of the day, I think when racing is at its best… And it’s been like this from it’s earliest origins. And I will happily say that I don’t think it’s doing a great job of exposing this right now. I don’t think that our current version of racing is its best. I don’t think that motorsport has just naturally gotten better over time. And I’ll explain that briefly in a second. But when it is at its best, you are seeing the machine is exposing the best part of the human. Right?

Alex Roy

Now we’re talking.

JR Hildebrand

It’s exposing the interesting differentiating style, attitude, thought process, ability of the human. And I think that that’s what, if we’re just talking… Take the advancement of technology and that piece of it out of the equation. That’s what is, when you’re watching a clip of a rally car cocked at 40 degrees, sailing over a jump landing just in the right spot, without going off the course at 120 miles an hour or something in the Rally of Finland in the snow, you’re sitting there thinking like, ‘I can’t believe there’s a dude in there doing that.’ It’s not just that there’s this machine that’s doing this thing. It’s, there’s a human in there who is so locked in that they know exactly where to put the car and is controlling this experience. And every guy who comes sideways over that brow is doing it a little bit differently.

Alex Roy

Everything that you’re saying and that Bryan has said, reminds me of the history of chess. We have chess games that can beat humans, and yet we still want to watch two humans play chess because we identify with the human, not with the chess player. A lot of people make fun of me for liking this movie Real Steel. But what I found fascinating about it is, if you know a little bit about robotics and AI, and everyone laughs at me when I bring this up, in the movie in the future boxing is outlawed and you got these, because inhumane, and robots box each other. But the best fighting robots are the ones where the AI controls the defense and that’s automated. But the best attack is when the human operator, via remote control, decides when to do the attack. So this combination of the machine doing a basic layer of stuff that’s tedious and then the human doing the creative stuff, that’s the combination that wins. So where’s the racing series like that? Or is the future going to be you, JR, racing against an autonomous vehicle that eventually can beat you?

JR Hildebrand

Yeah. I mean, I think that that’s…. It’s interesting, you’re talking about the chess example that I think even still to this day… The first, Kasparov and Deep Blue, right, was the first time that a chess robot beat a Grandmaster and this was 10 years ago, or I don’t know, it’s a while ago now, 15 years ago. So, it’s been a long time and the technology has gotten exponentially better. Now it would beat a chess Grandmaster in a 10th of the time or with thousands of times more certainty that a human is going to get beat. But still, TAA and AI with a team of humans behind it still beats the AI by itself in all of these situations, which I think is just like an interesting… To your point about the Real Steel and that human creativity part. Even in a game that we could say, compared to maybe boxing or driving a race car, is a little bit more rules-based and less complex in terms of there being various things going on that you’re having to account for. Still to this day, the human input is a valuable piece of that equation. And I guess I would say, I do think if you’re going to do autonomous racing, I do think that the conflict of human versus autonomous machine is the obvious interesting thing to see happen. But I think at the end of the day, this discussion that we’ve already had about the machine being the extension of the human is still, as far as sport goes, as far as competition, I’m a firm believer that some version of that is still the most interesting thing that we can consume. And it’s for that reason that without the human being at the core of the input’s going on, there’s not something that we can relate to that’s going on there. There’s not an empathetic element of the whole thing to attach to at all.

Alex Roy

It sounds to me that no matter how good AI might get in racing a car that we are in no danger of losing the magic of what makes us want to watch car racing.

JR Hildebrand

I don’t think so. Based on everything we have to go off of today, that’s not a concern of mine.

Alex Roy

JR Hildebrand is a professional race car driver, and a lecturer at Stanford. JR, thanks so much for joining us on the No Parking podcast.

JR Hildebrand

Thanks so much for having me guys.

Alex Roy

Well, that’s it from us. If you enjoyed this podcast and want to engage with us a little bit more, please follow us on Twitter @noparkingpod. I’m everywhere @Alex Roy144. And I will respond. Bryan Salesky is the CEO and founder of Argo AI.

Please share No Parking with a friend, like us, subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. This show is managed by the Civic Entertainment Group and the awesome Megan Harris is our producer.

Until next time I’m Alex Roy, and this is the No Parking Podcast.