Never Stop Driving #30: The AI Tri-Five
This week, I wanted to write about ’50s Chevys to highlight some recent material. I was tight on time so I asked the internet, via an AI bot, to take a swing writing my newsletter. As I entered the topic into my new digital helper, I felt both giddy and horrified. Had I found a useful assistant or my replacement?
The text my new friend produced, in less than a minute, hit some of the high points: “The 1955–1975 Chevy is a classic American car known for its iconic design and reliability.” I didn’t ask to include models past the ’50s, but let’s continue anyway. “Under the hood, the 1955–1975 Chevy was powered by a range of V-8 engines, which offered strong performance and reliability. This made the 1955–1975 Chevy a popular choice for both daily driving and racing, and many models are still prized by collectors today.”
Okay, horrendously generic and the bot missed the significance of the small-block engine, but sort of impressive too, right? My son, who showed me this tech and is no doubt trying to leverage it for his homework, looked at me sadly and said, “You’ve been automated.” Someday, but not yet. That’s also a someday that might never come—a lot like self-driving cars. They’re maybe 75 percent of the way there, but that last 25 percent is a chasm that might never be crossed.
Tesla has not made the leap and is on its back foot regarding Elon Musk’s pronouncements about full self-driving capability now that a class-action lawsuit is proceeding. Tesla’s lawyers claimed its failure to deliver is not fraud. Tesla’s stock is down 50 percent this year. Meanwhile, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt tweeted a reminder that on any given night, some 100 driverless taxis are giving rides in San Francisco.
Speaking of technology, the experiment where scientists shot a 2.05-megajoule laser into a minuscule bumble of hydrogen and started a fusion reaction that produced 3.15 megajoules was awesome. Megajoules are a unit of energy, so this means the experiment produced more than went in! A fantastic milestone. There is, however, the fine print: The scientists used 300 megajoules to fire the laser, which means there’s a long, long road before this tech throws off easy and free energy.
In any case, we are in incredibly interesting times.
Back to the Chevy. I’m ashamed to admit that before we wrote this love letter to the car, I did not know the meaning of “Tri-Five” Chevy. I thought it was an engine option of some sort. We explained that the car in question was produced for three years in the ’50s and thus this model run earned the “Tri-Five” nickname.
That car is one of those quietly ubiquitous machines. I hadn’t really thought of it until a chat with the founder of Inline Tube. That company makes brake kits for older cars and I wondered if he had shifted his business to accommodate newer cars, like the Fox-body Mustang. Yes, he had, but the oldies were still strong and he mentioned that he sells a kit a week for ’50s Chevys. “It’s like clockwork,” he said.
Coincidentally, the same week we published that article, we also appraised a restomodded one.
While we are talking about Chevys, did you hear the rumors of the Corvette SUV? They seem to be everywhere. Since Porsche has had great success with its SUVs and Mustang Mach-E sales are up 50 percent this year, if you’re in business to make money and you have the Corvette, would you not do the same? A hybrid Corvette is nearly a sure thing, according to a leaked online configurator.
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