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Robot Cars Are a Moral Imperative

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So tweeted tech venture capitalist Marc Andreessen after the crash that injured and killed comedians traveling on a New Jersey highway with Saturday Night Live star Tracy Morgan earlier this week. More than 90 percent of all traffic accidents are the result of human error. The New York Times is reporting the recent findings by Virginia Tech researchers who are estimating how many fewer deaths and accidents would occur with enhanced driving technologies. From the Times:

But two studies by researchers at Virginia Tech — H. Clay Gabler, a professor of biomedical engineering, and Kristofer D. Kusano, a research associate — suggest how much safer robot cars might be. They found that even cars that are not fully autonomous but which automate some of the most dangerous aspects of driving could have as big an effect as seatbelts have had…

They found that lane-departure warning systems would have prevented 30.3 percent of the crashes caused by lane drifting, and 25.8 percent of the injuries. Rear-end and collision warning systems and automatic braking would have prevented only 3.2 percent to 7.7 percent of crashes, but would have reduced their severity. The number of people injured or killed would have declined in the range of 29 to 50 percent, the researchers concluded.

By comparison, seatbelts have reduced injuries and fatalities by about 50 percent, and are considered the most beneficial auto safety measure of all time, Mr. Gabler said.

In 2012, more than 33,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in the United States. In April, the free-market think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute issued a report reviewing the effects that regulation might have on the introduction of self-driving vehicles and warned:

Policy makers must remember that their actions can produce harm. If automated vehicles are demonstrated to be significantly safer than manually driven vehicles, any misstep, convoluted law, or rule that leads to unnecessary higher costs or delays translates to increased injury and death.

The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.

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  1. The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.

    They’ll be even more shocked when my nephew borrows my red Barchetta and spits gravel all over their asses. Will gravel still exist?

    1. This is the 2nd time Red Barchetta has been mentioned in these threads. Does anyone really think that a world with autodriving cars is equal to the distopia from the song (or the short story)?

      1. I think of a dystopia as a place where people are no longer free to make choices for themselves, so, yeah, if people were no longer free to choose to drive themselves, I think that would be symptomatic of a dystopia.

        1. We’ve taken care of everything
          The words you read, the songs you sing
          The pictures that give pleasure to your eyes
          It’s one for all and all for one
          We work together, common sons
          Never need to wonder how or why

        2. The Last Chase

          In a future United States, the only transport available to an individual is public transportation. Predicated on an assertion that “the oil has run out”, an increasingly totalitarian central government has ordered all personal vehicles be impounded by law. One man, a former race car driver, yearns again for his ability to choose his own roads and destiny. He reassembles his race car hidden from confiscation, and sets out for “Free California” which has broken away from the new regime, aided by a young technically savvy teen who feels alienated from this “social” society. Agents of the new government must stop this man at any cost to destroy the symbology he represents, and the instability that such a desire for personal autonomy could mean to the society. An old Korean War veteran and his F-86 Sabre jet are called into service to chase down this dangerous man, and end his flouting of the will of the state. In the words of one of the government agents, “People going where they want to, where they want to. This could set us back to the 1980s.”

          1. I remember watching that as a kid – although I think it had a different title in Australia. My recollection is that is wasn’t very good.

            Of course, one thing that dates it is the idea that you could escape bureaucratic totalitarianism in CA.

            1. Right. “Free California” is tge only part that’s not believable. Could freedom ever become “hipster”.

              1. To be fair, I wrote “one thing” not “the only thing.”

                1. I was agreeing with you. I wasn’t being sarcastic for possibly the first time ever:)

                  1. JB: got it. Sorry.

            2. I used to watch it as a kid on TV, too. I remember loving it.

              Bullitt. Vanishing Point. Smokey and the Bandit. BJ and the Bear!

              When you’re that age, how bad can anything with a car chase really be?

            3. HBO showed it constantly for a year or so in the early 80s and then it disappeared forever.

              It’s odd how some bad movies run forever on movie channels and others don’t. I haven’t seen Megaforce since it was in the theaters, but Millinium seems to be on somewhere at least once a month.

              1. Men of War was on HBO last week. I hadn’t seen that in probably 18 years. It was just as sophisticated and artistic as I remembered. A tour de force of the art of cinema.

        3. Do you consider automated elevators to be a dystopia because they no longer have a human operator directly controlling the winch?

          1. Stormy, elevators are a train/bus corrolary, they only move on narrowly defined routes to specific stops.

          2. You mean elevators aren’t to blame for obesity?

          3. Only if you keep packing the elevator full of straw men.

      2. Only the second?

  2. They’re taking my volunteer work!

    /EMT

  3. Like mass transit, robot cars are a great thing for other people to ride around in. I like to drive, with one hand on the wheel and the other on the shift knob.

    1. the other on the shift knob

      Is that what you kids are calling it these days?

      /trying to erase visual

    2. Driverless cars are a fucking godsend, not even for safety reasons, but for the time they’ll free up. No more wasted time driving the kids to school, practice, and all the other over-scheduled crap kids have. Send them in the driverless car, control it with an app, and stop wasting my time sitting in traffic.

      Banning human driving would be horrible, and yet another infringement on human freedom. But having the option to freely choose driverless cars would be fucking fantastic.

      1. Banning human driving would be horrible, and yet another infringement on human freedom. But having the option to freely choose driverless cars would be fucking fantastic.

        This is all that needs to be said on the topic. Well, this and the perfunctory cynicism reminding you that once driverless cars are an option our betters in statehouses and insurance commissions across the land will push to make them mandatory.

      2. I actually agree with you on all your points, but recognize that Leviathan NEVER stops at “option”.

    3. I like to drive, with one hand on the wheel and the other on the shift knob.

      This.
      I’ll add downshifting and flooring it at every reasonable opportunity.

  4. “The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.”

    A better generation will be completely shocked at the way we squandered our freedom to make personal, qualitative judgements for ourselves–all for the sake of utilitarianism.

    I ride a motorcycle every day–and I’m glad. If public policy in the future can’t comprehend and account for my tolerance for risk, then pubic policy in the future will be qualitatively inferior than it is today.

    It’s really interesting how utilitarians have adapted over the years. They used to grapple with their inability to account for qualitative judgement–now they just pretend as if qualitative judgements don’t matter.

    1. Another rider! Whatcha got, Ken? I know John has a BMW. I’m riding Kawi ZX14 or ZRX1200R (Eddie Lawson Replica) or Honda XR650L (dual sport – road ends, keep going 🙂

      Keep the shiny side up, bruddah!

      1. What did you get the Honda for, Al? I have a Bandit 600S and I want to get a dual sport, but my bike budget is limited.

        1. I got a 2008 in 2012 with only 350 miles on it (!!!!!) for $4300. Great deal.

          Love it. Can do 80 on the highway, plink in the dirt, air cooled, bullet proof. Nothin not to like!

          1. That’s not bad, but I prefer more of a “just this side of the grave” condition. Got my ’99 Bandit for $300 with 6K on it in ’06, rebuilt the carbs and replaced the tires for about $400 more, and I’ve put another 6 on it with no trouble. Maybe the ’08 has come down into my price range by now.

    2. Computer controlled cars will enable speed limits to be tripled. IOW, real improvements to transportation (i.e. getting me where I want to go faster) rather than simply getting me there more comfortably with heated seats and power windows.

      If you wish to continue to ride your bike with other traffic averaging 150 mph…feel free. That’s what libertarianism is all about.

      But don’t tell me I must stop progress so you can enjoy riding your bike.

      1. If your 150 can keep up with my 186 (speed governed) Ninja – sure.

        1. A driverless motorcycle would be amazing. Just sit back and safely enjoy the highest speeds and tightest turns the bike could handle. I don’t see how it could be done, because of the importance of how a rider leans, but if it could it would be amazing.

      2. Computer controlled cars should also allow every car to use the same lane, freeing up 2 to 4 lanes on freeways for those of us who don’t want to end up in your antiseptic, 3-shell, Taco-Bell-dominated future. I’m ok with that.

        1. So, you’re against progress?

          You don’t like getting places faster or being able to replace driving time with other productive endeavors?

          Has nothing to do with freedom. I’m not endorsing making these things mandatory. What I am against is “not doing it” just because you like driving your horse and buggy.

          1. No, I am seriously saying that they should be able to use one lane. If they are going that fast and are that coordinated, why would they need more than that?

      3. Ah, a freeway full of computerized networked cars going 150 mph. What could possibly go wrong?

        1. Computer systems never fail, ever, and especially not for incredibly asinine reasons that were neither intended nor anticipated.

          1. Sure they fail. But they fail LESS than humans do.

  5. Besides the obvious safety benefits, think of the increase in free(ish) time. Going from no numbers or solid evidence, I’m going to estimate what I think are conservative figures. Let’s say there is 150 million people who work in the country. 80% of them drive to work, and the average commute is 20 minutes one way. Assuming they work 5 days a week and 50 weeks a year, you’re talking about an extra 165 hours of free(ish) time if they aren’t actually driving and can read or browse the internet or whatever. That’s essentially an entire extra week per person per year. All together, that’s over 2 million man-years worth of extra free time for the country per year.

    1. Think of all the selfies that can be liked with that sort of free time!

      1. I Like your comment

    2. I have no problem with people willingly choosing to ride in robot cars.

      I have a problem with people deciding that I can no longer choose to drive my own.

      1. Agreed. I’d like to drive myself to the bar and have my robot drive me home.

        1. And what you like is important.

          People don’t think of these things in qualitative terms–but there are so many things that are important just because people care about them for qualitative reasons.

          Would I get rid of the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure if it meant less terrorism? Would I get rid of a right to an attorney, a right to a jury trial, the assumption of innocence, the right not to testify against myself, the right not to be tried twice for the same crime–or just any one of those–if doing so meant there would be less murder, armed robbery, rape, and child abuse?

          The answer is no. I’d rather have more murder, armed robbery, rape, child abuse, and terrorism—IF IF IF getting less of those things meant doing away with those rights and liberties.

          Why?

          Because I care about freedom for qualitative reasons. Because I like freedom.

          If someone else’s quantitative value system can’t account for qualitative judgements like that, then the problem is with their value system. My value system is libertarian, and, to me, that means everyone gets to make choices for themselves–informed by their own qualitative preferences.

      2. i have a problem with people choosing my destination.

        This is Logan’s Run stuff. When I consume more than I produce, my hand-crystal will go black and my robot car will just take me to the Carrousel.

    3. I typed something, it was squirreled away.

      1. Take 2, I am interested in how these cars alleviate traffic, if at all.

        If I leave at the right time, it takes just under half an hour. The wrong time, almost an hour.

        A consistent 30 minute commute would be welcomed. Make it happen robots.

        1. If we could just get the trains to run on time.

  6. I’m of two minds. On the one hand, the roads will be far safer when most of the cars are robots. On the other hand, I like driving. And also, “the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways”? You can have my dumbcar when you can pry it from my cold dead hands.

    1. We’ll need the jaws of life first, that wreck you caused was a nasty one…

      (Disclaimer – I am not in favor of mandating self-driving cars. I’d own one because I hate driving, but that’s a personal choice).

  7. “The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed actually chose to drive themselves down highways.”

    I think this is more likely. The free market is trying to bring us robot cars. It’s the government that is opposing them at every step.

    1. Dear god man, think of the lost revenue in citations. How will we pay the salaries of the traffic cops?

  8. The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways they produce as the tyranny of numbers take hold when 10s of millions of autonomous vehicles suffer from rare, fleeting, unreproducible system faults.

    1. It’s nonsensical to just up and decide that all of the technology created in the future will fail catastrophically.

      That said, I would imagine that the rate of unreproducible faults in a computerized car would be lower than the rate of such faults among human drivers.

      1. Have you worked in IT before?

        Compters are psychotic little adding machines, especially as they age.

        1. Computers do exactly what you tell them to do, nothing less, nothing more. The problem is humans getting all ten million instructions correct 😉

          1. Compters are boxes programmed by psychotic little adding machines who have a very tenuous grasp on reality, especially as they age.

        2. As opposed to gray haired old ladies?

          1. Gray-haired old ladies excel at arithmatic?

            Wow, you learn something new every day.

      2. thom, I believe in technology, but I don’t believe in magic.

        1. Neither do I. However, these “robot cars” actually exist, and are only going to improve.

          It’s surprising how many people scoff at all the magical innovations of the future as they work on their computers, drive their cars, use their smartphones, and routinely fly through the air like a bird on airplanes.

          1. So one of the companies with the deepest pockets in the world has hand built a modest number of prototypes and shown them to be viable in the real world. This is cool.

            It ain’t, however, proof that millions of vehicle can be mass produced at a price point that is commercially viable. The cost of mass-produced, self-driving vehicles is unknowable, because the regulators haven’t had their say yet. Look to aviation if you want to see what is going to happen to Google’s lovely prototypes.

            1. Look to aviation if you want to see what is going to happen to Google’s lovely prototypes.

              I can’t allow myself to be that pessimistic. As long as we don’t descend into another dark ages, I have to believe that technological progress will triumph over petty politics and regulation. The adaption of new technology over the last 100 years has been astonishing. I have to believe that 25, 50, 100 years from now many of these technologies will have been adopted.

              1. I can’t allow myself to be that pessimistic.

                You need to understand that I am a wild-eyed optimist.

                I am in my 29th year as an engineer building safety critical systems. I have 24 patents awarded and another 6-8 applications in the system.

                I believe in this stuff. I certainly see automation taking over on long-distance highway operations, where computers can maintain high safety levels at extremely high vehicle speeds.

                But I struggle to see general purpose vehicles operating in cluttered urban environments. This is not because of technology, it is because the regulators will drive costs through the roof. Regulators don’t accept “better than the human that is being replaced”. Regulators demand proof that your system isn’t going to kill someone to 5 or 7 or 9 9’s of confidence. Urban environments are way too random to meet that kind of proof.

                1. Regulators don’t accept “better than the human that is being replaced”. Regulators demand proof that your system isn’t going to kill someone to 5 or 7 or 9 9’s of confidence.

                  This is one of the most retarded parts of government I come across on a regular basis.

                  1. You have no idea how frustrating my job can be. Dirt simple ideas that would clearly make the world a better place can’t be implemented (at least haven’t been in the last 15 years) because the regulatory burden makes the products commercially unviable.

                    1. I’ve worked in both pharmaceutical manufacturing automation and aircraft software design. I’m aware of how stupid the regulations are.

            2. You’re right kinnath…can’t be done.

              /luddite

              1. fuck off cisco, I wasn’t talking to you.

                1. What’s up your ass?

                  Do you know how ridiculous you sound when you say things “can never be done?”

                  1. “can never be done”

                    Well Control-F says that I never typed those words. But I did type:

                    . . . the tyranny of numbers take hold when 10s of millions of autonomous vehicles suffer from rare, fleeting, unreproducible system faults.

                    I believe in technology, but I don’t believe in magic.

                    It ain’t, however, proof that millions of vehicle can be mass produced at a price point that is commercially viable.

                    The cost of mass-produced, self-driving vehicles is unknowable, because the regulators haven’t had their say yet.

                    1. . . . the tyranny of numbers take hold when 10s of millions of autonomous vehicles suffer from rare, fleeting, unreproducible system faults.

                      Simple. You design in a failsafe.

                      The cost of mass-produced, self-driving vehicles is unknowable, because the regulators haven’t had their say yet.

                      I agree. The only thing holding this back is regulation (which I’m against, BTW). And I further agree with you that automated systems require (due to liability) ridiculously high safety factors..which is ludicrous, as anyone with half a brain would agree that as long as it’s safer than it is now, it should be allowed.

                      Kill the lawyers, not the technology.

                    2. Simple. You design in a failsafe.

                      D R I V E R

                    3. Of course, if the human in the car is the ultimate failsafe, DUI gets to still be a money-maker for the police.

                    4. You can prove that the odds that your system is going to hurt someone are less than one in a million, but the legal system still considers the totally unpredictable human in the loop to be the ultimate fail safe. And the scary thing is, that the human really is the failsafe because you just can’t specified every potential situation that your system needs to handle.

                    5. OR…when the system detects a fault, it slows all surrounding traffic to 20 MPH, moves any other car in the way out of the way and pulls the offending node to the side of the road.

                    6. so your system isn’t the autonomous vehicle. it’s the global network of roads and drone vehicles. which is an even bigger problem to solve.

                    7. Eventually.

                      Could be done autonomously first with a higher probability of collision.

                      I flew a jet, designed in the 1960s, that could fly autonomously at 600 knots and maintain 200 AGL through damn near any terrain in the world. That was before we had things like datalink, TCAS or supercomputers. This is doable right now…in fact it’s being done (Google Car). It will only get better provided the government and lawyers get out of the way.

                    8. Your prior experience is not directly relevant. The mission is more important than pilots — pilots are expendable.

                    9. The system NEVER killed a pilot in 30 years of service.

                    10. I actually understand how terrain following radar works, and I even know how much it costs.

                    11. And do you know why terrain following radar is not used in commercial aviation even though the technology is 50 fucking years old?

                    12. Because commercial technology has no need to fly at 200 ft.

                    13. commercial technology aviation

                      FUCK!

                    14. But everyone worries about CFIT

                    15. You don’t need TF to solve CFIT.

                      Hell, you can do that with DAFIF and a GPS.

                    16. It will only get better provided the government and lawyers get out of the way.

                      You’re so funny

                    17. Simple. You design in a failsafe.

                      I am reminded of Steve Martin’s two simple steps to making million dollars tax-free.

                      1) make a million dollars,

                      2) don’t pay taxes.

                    18. To be able to take over in an emergency, a human would have to be paying just as much attention at all times (since you never know when an emergency will happen) as if he or she were driving anyway–you can’t take in the situation fast enough to be effective if you don’t look until things go south. It’s going to be all or nothing. I personally look forward to robot cars, as long as there aren’t backdoors so that the government can override my control.

        2. Not even in a young girl’s heart?

          1. According to SoNAR research, there’s very little magic in juvenile female cardiac tissue. It’s a low-yield source below even blue smoke. We declined to continue that line of inquiry in favor of more promicing sources.

            Currently it runs on the potential energy of internet spam due to the sheer abundance of raw materials despite the lowpartial pressure of each e-mail.

    2. John Barnes makes some brief comments on this in Directive 51 when the Daybreak virus corrupts automated systems. Not the same as a fault b/c it was sabotage but interesting.

  9. All I want:

    To be able to go to the bar, get piss drunk, and wake up in my garage without having to worry about some pig putting me in a cage.

    Is that too much to ask?

    1. No one NEEDS three bottles of Stoli!

  10. Self-driving cars are still going to be too individualistic for the public transportation nazis. Going somewhere on your own schedule and not having to sit on a smelly bus with a bunch of zoned-out poor people is just so unmutual.

    1. This is probably the biggest reason for why they tend to be opposed from the left.

      A system of driverless cars will ultimately make rail obsolete, and politicians and progressive “planners” love rail because it means they get to decide when and where people are allowed to go.

      Cars = freedom. They’ve tried to make driving more difficult through overly punitive DWI laws, traffic cameras, etc. Robot cars not only give people the freedom of an automobile, but they make it more difficult to justify stopping and arresting people as they ride in them.

      1. When I studied abroad in Hong Kong, I loved the MTR, because it went everywhere, any time I wanted. When I went back to Greensboro, NC, I went back to driving, because the buses had shit routes and schedules that went nowhere I wanted at no time I wanted.

        To go where I want, when I want, is my one demand from a system, but it’s a nonnegotiable demand. You’re right, though, about central planners fucking hating that.

      2. When I studied abroad in Hong Kong, I loved the MTR, because it went everywhere, any time I wanted. When I went back to Greensboro, NC, I went back to driving, because the buses had shit routes and schedules that went nowhere I wanted at no time I wanted.

        To go where I want, when I want, is my one demand from a system, but it’s a nonnegotiable demand. You’re right, though, about central planners fucking hating that.

        1. My demand from this system is for squirrels not to duplicate or stop posts.

  11. More than 90 percent of all traffic accidents are the result of human error.

    Damn dirty apes.

    1. The other 10 percent are due to vehicle error.

  12. Robot Cars Are a Moral Imperative

    So say I after a 90-year-old lady went on a “Is it in D or R?” rampage yesterday, taking the sweet lives of an apartment complex wood fence, two parked cars and an innocent bollard.

    1. Yeah. Last week, my wife saw an old geezer plow into a lady who was crossing in the crosswalk. Some bystanders ran to help the lady who was trapped under the geezer’s car. Of course, the sight of young people surrounding his car made him panic and he tried to flee. But there was a person stuck under his car. So everybody tried harder to get him to stop. Which made him panic, so he tried to flee. But there was a person stuck under his car…

  13. The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  14. You’re a lawyer. You represent someone who was hit when another driver swerved to avoid a motorcycle. Would you rather sue:

    1. Some other idiot driver who made a split second decision
    or
    2. Google, with deep pockets and thousands of pages of paperwork saying they tested and retested their robocar and it does, indeed, swerve to miss the motorcycle and hit the car instead?

    You picked #2, which is why there will be no robocars. Ford doesn’t get sued if you hit someone w/ your Fiesta. Google will be sued if their car hits someone.

    1. The Fiesta also doesn’t make the decision about where to go, so there is that.

    2. Google’s cars have been driving on the city streets of Las Vegas for a few years now.

      My understanding is that there has only been one accident–and that was when a drunk driver ran into a robot.

      I think Google is going to do the calculation. If their robots hurt people substantially less than the average driver, then the actuaries will give Google insurance rates that are better than what the average driver gets today–and they’ll price that cost into the car.

      Meanwhile, Google’s cars seem to be less collision prone than the average driver–and they’re presumably getting better and better all the time.

    3. which is why there will be no robocars. Ford doesn’t get sued if you hit someone w/ your Fiesta

      There will be when demand offsets the cost of liability.

  15. “This.kind.of thing has.cropped up before, and.it has.always been attributable.to.human error.”

  16. The era of the self driving car can’t come soon enough. I want to be driven to a restaurant, get out, and then have the car go find a parking spot by itself. Then when I’m done, I’ll give it a call, and wait for it to pick my tipsy ass up.

    1. So call a cab.

      1. I still can’t figure out who all these moneybags are who ride in cabs. $30 for a ride home? Ah, no thanks.

        1. I agree, but you.need to think like a business consultant or a lawyer. You have to bill it to your clients to make it worthwhile.

        2. Owning a car is SO much cheaper.

          1. Amortized over the number of trips I take – yes.

            1. Yeah, I was actually srsly about it. See my mileage below.

              Urbanites might be able to cab it. Me – never.

          2. Owning a car is SO much cheaper.

            It’s got to be. Even when I was commuting 50 miles a day I only spent $50 a week on gas. That’s not even two cab rides. Throw in another $500/year for maintenance and amortize the car over 10 years and your annual expense is like $5,500. That’s 183 cab rides at $30 a pop. Won’t even get you through half the year.

      2. Fuck you. Hail Uber.

  17. The era of the self driving car can’t come soon enough. I want to be driven to a restaurant, get out, and then have the car go find a parking spot by itself. Then when I’m done, I’ll give it a call, and wait for it to pick my tipsy ass up.

    Get a chauffeur, you cheap bastard.

    1. Monocole-polishing slaves tend to be too young to drive.

      I despise driving. I can’t wait for our robot overlords to drive me around everywhere.

  18. Sometimes I wonder what the fuck is wrong with Bailey. He is a bright guy but then he sometimes writes shit like this. Maybe making robot cars available is a “moral imperative” but there is nothing about the cars themselves that are. If they are, then the government has the moral obligation to force me to own one as opposed to my old fashioned non robot cars. To that I say, go fuck yourself Ron. I am under no moral imperative to give up my freedom and the joy I get from driving just because it creates some risk to myself and others. If you don’t like that risk, don’t drive. Should I have the option of owning a robot car? Sure. But it shouldn’t be a requirement.

    I suspect normal human beings, as opposed to Bailey, will not want their car to be automated at all times but would like a car that can drive itself when needed or can be set to step in and take over when the driver mistakenly tries to pull in front of a truck. Automatic driving will end up being like traction control, something that is there but can be turned off or moderated at the driver’s discretion.

    1. Nice rant John. However, it was not Bailey who said robot cars are a moral imperative. Instead it was a tweet from tech venture capitalist Marc Andreessen who tweeted it after the crash that injured and killed comedians traveling on a New Jersey highway with Saturday Night Live star Tracy Morgan. Give Bailey a break on this one.

      1. Fair enough. But he seems to be endorsing the view. He doesn’t reject it.

        1. He doesn’t reject the statement, but I don’t think the article endorses the viewpoint either. It seems to be a clearinghouse for current debate about robot cars, mixed with some new statistical analysis regarding safety in the wake of a widely reported tragedy.

          The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.

          This is the problematic statement from the article. Although, I suspect it is slyly tongue-n-cheek. A parody of closing sentiments you hear on 60 Minutes, or long articles from the Sunday New York Times magazine.

  19. My prediction: Reason will look like a bunch of dumbasses about 10 years down the road when self-driving cars have a similar effect on privacy and.liberty to that of their previous technological crush, ubiquitous information sharing.

    Years ago, I was skeptical that constant sharing of personal data could ever result in enough value returned to customers to justify the.privacy and liberty implications. Then we.saw.what the government was.able.to do.with that infrastructure. I expect nothing.different with self.driving.cars, and their.ability.to limit freedom more than they enable.it.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      If your car is “self driving”, then you don’t drive or go anywhere unless your care allows you to and everywhere you go is known and remembered by the car. I will take my chances with an auto accident thank you.

    2. Actually this highly depends on the technology architecture that they build them on.

      There are basically 2 ways to implement robotic cars

      1) Centralized command and control. Robotic cars are treated like aircraft passing from control zone to control zone. Each control zone communicates constantly with the car getting feedback on it’s operating conditions and destination then directs it’s movement based on the location and direction of all other cars in the system allowing for route and traffic optimization.

      2) Decentralized. There is no control center, each car is fully autonomous but communicates with the cars around it and possibly receives traffic data from a unidirectional satellite navigation feed (GPS with traffic updates, some units already have this feature) Your traffic optimization is not quite as good here but there is no single point of failure risking a massive crash.

      You could also have a 3rd option of a hybrid of the 2 where inside of a city you are under central control and in the suburbs and rural areas you are under autonomous control.

      1. The first option is very scary from a libertarian perspective, the second however offers very little threat to liberty or privacy as there would be no reason to have long term memory of other cars near you in a queue, 5 minutes after you drove away from another car it would forget ever having been near you so the only way to retroactively track your movements would be license plate cameras (they already have them) or going into the car and pulling it’s GPS logs which should realistically require a search warrant.

      2. Decentralized is the only way it can gain market share, as the cars have to be able to handle the non-automated traffic on the roads too. (There is simply no way for the millions of vehicles in this country to be replaced overnight even if you support the totalitarian option.)

        1. Decentralized will never truly happen. Look at all the caveats and weasel words involved.in an email provider’s TOS. They will make efforts to protect.your.privacy and liberty only.up to the.point that the law requires otherwise. It is.inconceivable that a government.would not write.itself a.pass to get.control over self driving cars in similar ways that they get access to our communications.

          1. Major difference.

            An email system by necessity retains a record of all of your communications. Even if you delete the email it could be recovered from backups.

            With decentralized robotic car network your car retaining a long term record of all cars it interacts with would be a costly add on, not a central feature as would a system which allowed for remote control of the car by the police.

            Is it possible that laws would be passed mandating these features? Sure, I suppose it is likely even, however that is a flaw in government and not in the concept of robotic cars.

            That said I suspect that since they can already almost track your every movement through license plate cameras it is more likely that in the short term they would simply require that your car can be ordered to pull over and shut down by a nearby police cruiser

            1. The delivery system for navigational data will be enough. Seriously, it is.not a huge leap to.imagine that a government agency.like the.NTSB or DOT would write a regulation requiring remote stop and/or destination.selection for.self driving cars. It.would almost certainly be an initial certification requirement.for.all self.driving cars, couched in terms of.safety requirements. But it would never be.allowed.to.go.away, because no.one.ever.wants to be the guy that removed.that safety reg that got someone killed somewhere. And once the regulatory and.technical.infrastructure.is.in place, forget closing that Pandora’s.box.

              I seriously.cannot see how people here who.spend hours a day complaining about the.intrusive state and the co-opting of private communication technology for government surveillance.purposes can have.such a.blind spot for the possibilities with self.driving.cars. it boggles the.mind.

              1. Because GPS is unidirectional not bidirectional. There is no way to issue commands through it.

                What they could do is use the cell network and basically require On Star in every car as that already has most of the features you fear. However since On Star already exists and has existed for more than a decade with no one showing any inclination to mandate it’s inclusion on even all new cars forget all cars the threat seems overblown. It also means that the threat is not Robotic cars as every one of your fears could be realized with or without them. If our government is going to use our vehicles to oppress us in the way you fear they will do so whether the cars are self driving or not.

  20. The other issue is that like every other safety feature, these systems make cars more expensive and less attainable for the poor. Mandating them just makes it harder for those who can’t afford it. It may shock Bailey’s delicate conscience to see someone riding a scooter or driving an old car, but it beats walking and for some that is the only other option.

  21. But will I be able to turn off White House Radio on my way to work?

    1. Are you a member of the.inner party?

    2. Only if you want a visit from the FBI once you get there.

  22. I’m glad I’ll be dead when all this shit happens. Cause I really, really like driving.

    Figured it out – I’m still somewhere around 60K miles a year (min) across 6 cars and 3 motorcycles. Kind of more than the average bear. No, leasing is never an option for me (no, not even spread across 6 cars – I own three old ones – the big miles get put on the new cars).

    As John noted, I WOULD be interested in being able to select an auto drive for trips to the bar, or certain boring drives, or to go find its own parking spot so I don’t have to waste time.

    So maybe I’d dip a toe in…

    1. I don’t get why people like driving. What is it about the dull repeditive task punctuated by moments of profanity at the idiocy of the others on the road that appeals to people?

      1. The part where you’re constantly about 5 seconds from dying?

      2. Well, I’m sure that since you don’t like something, there is.more than.adequate.reason.to prevent other.people.from.doing it.

        1. Where did I say I was in favor of stopping you from driving? In fact I said the opposite in this very thread:

          (Disclaimer – I am not in favor of mandating self-driving cars. I’d own one because I hate driving, but that’s a personal choice).

          Where did you get “People shouldn’t be allowed to drive” from “I don’t get why people like driving”?

          1. Fair enough, but once automatic driving is commonplace, the tendency will be there.to require.it, for the sake.of.”safety.”

          2. And I am NOT accusing you.of.this, but “I don’t.understand what.people like about X” is often.code for “I find X distasteful and really wish other.people were restricted from doing.X in my presence.”

  23. I thought revenge on Kent was a moral imperative?

    1. I WANT YOU TO STOP TOUCHING YOURSELF!

      1. It really *is* God…

        1. The important question is can a google car be disassembled and reassembled in a dorm room in an afternoon?

          1. That thing is so fucking ugly I wouldn’t put it in my worst enemy’s bedroom.

          2. You just order it to do it to itself. Duh.

  24. The nice thing about the thread is that’s pretty well identified all the commenters who aren’t libertarian so much as neurotics with control issues.

    1. Not wanting to have a government approved self driving car and thinking that perhaps that might create some privacy and liberty issues and some very real temptations for various do gooders makes us neurotics with control issues?

      Someone is neurotic here but it isn’t us. Maybe people like you who think it is a moral imperative to eliminate every risk in life might be a bit neurotic perhaps?

  25. Robot Cars Are a Moral Imperative

    “… and a great way to to increase the profitability of my investment in Google! Oh, did I say that one out loud?”

  26. How about we work on a Reason site that works with Android first, and then worry about robot cars. Of course robot women should be in front of both these things.

    1. How about we work on a Reason site that works with Android

      Don’t get crazy. Technology can only do so much.

  27. The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.

    Especially poor people who shouldn’t be driving cars anyway. Cars used to be the toys of the rich, yet these bastards – with the help of that evil incarnate Henry Ford – took that away from us!

    /millionaire proggie.

  28. The next generation will be shocked at the carnage that we tolerated during the primitive era in which people were actually allowed to drive themselves down highways.

    Fuck off Bailey, I’m driving and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  29. The government should be embracing robot cars. Imagine the control over the population that could be achieved when we’re not allowed to drive ourselves to our destination.

    1. Supreme Court, Doe v. U.S. DOT, ca. 2025:

      “People still have the freedom to walk across the country without limit, excepting reasonable stops and searches in the interest of public safety, therefore, plaintiff lacks standing to contest Federal limits on allowable destinations and schedules in self driving cars.”

  30. I think Robot cars being mandated is a long long way off. At least 40 – 50 years specifically because of us Gen X’ers and maybe a handful of millennial who actually like driving for it’s own sake. This next generation that grows up is going to do so in a world where for the overwhelming majority of them they will be lucky to be able to afford a car more exciting than a Focus, gas is expensive enough to be a major concern in their budget, and they probably couldn’t get a stick shift if they wanted one. Zipcar subscriptions may be more common than actual car ownership 25 year olds by 2030.

    Very very few of them are going to grow up loving cars or finding driving fun, driving will simply be what you have to do to get to work and cars will be looked at as little more than tools.

    When we’re all dottering around in nursing homes having had our drivers licenses revoked due to old age a decade earlier and todays 10 year olds are pushing 50 there will be very few people left who want a car which can’t drive itself that is when cities will begin mandating self driving cars

    1. What you are saying Rasilio is that the Progs will be successful in destroying the American dream and condemning future generations into government controlled poverty where things everyone used to expect like owning a car, taking a vacation, owning a house and such are not attainable for most people, who will live in cramped government controlled and mandated rentals and take unreliable and dirty mass transit or maybe on a good day borrow a small, uncomfortable and slow eco box car to get somewhere.

      You may be right. And I am sure people like Shreek and Tony have orgasms thinking of such a future. But God what a nightmare. If that is the future, fuck singularity, I will take my chances with death.

      1. “What you are saying Rasilio is that the Progs will be successful in destroying the American dream”

        No, they already have been successful at that. No matter what we do now the debt baked into the system will have to be paid out with reduced prosperity for our kids.

        However no one is mandating that anyone rent a zip car or an apartment and there is no reason to expect that would change. Rather the free market (what little of it remains) will find ways to meet new needs. Regardless of your ability to afford a car you need transportation and public transport will never meet all the need. Enter Zipcar, for a fraction of the cost of owning a car you get access to one when you need it. The economic condition where you can’t afford to buy a car may have been caused by government but the solution to the problem remains free market.

        Further, changing tastes and preferences are not something you seem to be dealing with well. No sane person should want to drive in a rush hour commute and in an are where 95% of the people have voluntarily chosen to let the car drive itself you the manual drive presents an undue risk. The owner of the roads is perfectly within it’s right to ban the use of your unsafe vehicle.

    2. I’m afraid a ‘moment’ is all we’re ever gonna get.

      And comments broken… again?

    3. Motherfucking comment motherfuckers.

      Everything in your post is a feature, not a bug.

    4. Hello, dystopic future.

      1. What’s the present? Chopped liver?

        1. The prologue.

  31. But two studies by researchers at Virginia Tech ? H. Clay Gabler, a professor of biomedical engineering…

    Stop right there! I presume he is unqualified to make that assessment.

    Also, has anyone ever considered the chaos that could occur if these driver-less cars were linked to outside systems (as I’ve heard proposed) and someone compromised that system?

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