The Autonomous Vehicle Research Centre

There is only one
really serious philosophical problem
and that is:

do self-driving cars brake for animals?

And the answer is mostly no,
not unless it might damage the vehicle,
depreciating the asset
and taking up time,

and it occurs to us that
the really serious philosophical counterargument
is regiments of

exploding squirrels,
hedgehogs fashioned of filed tungsten,
foxes that release flaming napalm
when burst on the road

to teach the algorithm
that the car should have slowed
right down
to the speed of life,

because you can teach a car to be anything
you want—

these days a car can grow up to be
a model citizen

with a fear of
the vengeance of small things
and a healthy concern
for what is concerning.

This is what we call deep learning.

Erik Kennedy is the author of There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (Victoria University Press, 2018), and he is co-editing a book of climate change poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific forthcoming from Auckland University Press in 2022. His poems, stories, and criticism have been published in places like FENCE, Hobart, Maudlin House, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and Western Humanities Review. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. WEB & TWITTER