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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Uber's driverless car crashes

That's not confidence-inspiring:
A self-driving car operated by Uber Technologies Inc. was involved in a crash in Tempe, Arizona, the latest setback for a company reeling from multiple crises.

In a photo posted on Twitter, one of Uber’s Volvo self-driving SUVs is pictured on its side next to another car with dents and smashed windows. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the incident, and the veracity of the photo, in an email to Bloomberg News.

The spokeswoman could not immediately confirm if there were any injuries, or whether the car was carrying passengers. Uber’s self-driving cars began picking up customers in Arizona last month.
I have to admit, I do not understand the fascination of technology-companies with self-driving cars. I suppose one has to be a bit of a fascist, or at least a monopolist, to be enamored of the concept, which would explain why Apple and Google have gotten involved.

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163 Comments:

Blogger Timmy3 March 25, 2017 11:35 AM  

I am looking forward to the technology. I wouldn't mind it. The thing is all cars need proximity sensors and GPS to make it possible. I'm getting to the age where driving at night is increasingly less safe for me and others. It won't happen for decades, but it needs to happen.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 25, 2017 11:38 AM  

It will be fun when these "fascists" do the 180 on eugenics that I know they are itching to do.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 11:39 AM  

Its a labor saving device, like any other. Driving can be a chore. If you have to do the Los Angeles rush hour you are very likely in the market for this.

Anonymous Just another commenter March 25, 2017 11:39 AM  

They see the human world through the lens of "tech makes everything better;" it's a point of dogma for them. They cannot see the potential shortfalls or complications or side-effects, because they are led by SJWs who cannot think two moves ahead. They only see the marketable first-order effects.

And, of course, some of them want access to the self-driving car wreck scene in "I, Robot," because they believe they will be the ones pulling the strings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0Fw8TVYBKg

Blogger praetorian March 25, 2017 11:39 AM  

I have to admit, I do not understand the fascination of technology-companies with self-driving cars.

Secret kings want their secret chauffeurs.

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 25, 2017 11:44 AM  

As long as the system is centralized and run by the NSA, what could possibly go wrong?

Anonymous p-dawg March 25, 2017 11:44 AM  

Well, I like it because I like to drink on the way to the bar, but I think many worker bees will want to do work on their way to work and also on the way home from work, which means big companies are probably in favor of it.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 11:44 AM  

As a professional tech, it seems to me that tech does make the world better. Its odd to dispute this I think. Unless your definition of tech is narrow. An auto-pilot for your car is precisely in the same line as, well, a car, as otherwise you would have to walk or use an animal to transport yourself.

Anonymous BBGKB March 25, 2017 11:45 AM  

I have to admit, I do not understand the fascination of technology-companies with self-driving cars

That's easy they can drive anyone they don't like off a cliff. Just wait until self driving semis get boxed in and escorted to a different warehouse by their collision avoidance along with a signal jammer. Also no chauffer's to blackmail you about the Haitian cheese delivered to your door.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother March 25, 2017 11:47 AM  

Driving, gasoline, engines, exhaust fumes are masculine pursuits and substances. This is why they want to do away with it all.

Driving your own car is freedom. Control is required.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 11:48 AM  

Consider the humble matter of plumbing. No doubt there is some cost to virtue in abandoning the chore of carrying out the household nightsoil.
But, of course, where does it stop?

Blogger haus frau March 25, 2017 11:49 AM  

Driverless cars aren't getting rid of the human error factor in car crashes. They are just taking it out of the individual driver's control and pushing it back onto the companies and their H1B designers. What is the safety advantage to this? So Habib who designed/implemented the softwear gets to decide when your car breaks and how sharp it turns at what speed and the individual in the car who is there observing can't do crap about it? How is that safer?

Anonymous Loki7 March 25, 2017 11:49 AM  

I heard a lawyer this week say that while self-driving autos may be possible they won`t roll given the current state of case law regarding lawsuits and car crashes.

Anonymous Leatherwing March 25, 2017 11:51 AM  

They see the human world through the lens of "tech makes everything better;" it's a point of dogma for them.
I agree. I work in tech, but as a tester. All of the developers seem to only see the happy path for technology, especially if they wrote it. I tend to see all the possible failures.

I simply don't believe that the developers of driver-less cars have thought of all the possible scenarios that they aren't prepared for. What will a headless car do when it rolls up on a black lives matter event/riot? The passenger won't be expecting it, he lets his car think for him. The car will likely come to a full stop (only thing developers can code it to do) allowing the passenger to receive a full helping of Reginald Denny style violence.

I nearly drove into one of those events. It was not anything announced. I was driving through downtown and started to turned down my normal route home. Around the corner, the street was filled with a few hundred people about 50 feet down. I corrected and didn't turn into that mob. The car would not have seen them until it was too late and would only have known to stop.

No thank you, I will remain in control of my vehicle until forced out of it.

Anonymous SugarPi March 25, 2017 11:52 AM  

Some boomers actually think this technology will be good for them (kinda like they thought abortion on demand would be good for them and now they're being euthanized against their will)... and will roll out possibly as soon as 3 years according to one attendee of the techo convention in Barcelona, Spain a few weeks back.

Anonymous Al Jahom March 25, 2017 11:52 AM  

Did the car accidentally call its Islamic Maniac subroutine?

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 11:53 AM  

Its like that evil thing, the CNC machining center. Real men use South Bend lathes (I learned on a South Bend, made in 1922).
Right.

Anonymous Dyskord March 25, 2017 11:54 AM  

If your looking from a completely monetary perspective self driving cars open up quite a few markets. Would you need a license if you don't need to know how to drive a car? So parents could hypothetically buy a car for theoretically 10 year old to get him/her around and all the kid needs to do is program the destination. If you no longer need a license to drive then they sale of cars should sky rocket, especially in countries where women aren't allowed to drive as an example. I'm fairly certain once this kicks off Apple and Google will start manufacturing cars themselves. Better to double dip in the market. The sole providers of the technology and producers of a useable product.
The question is what will be the barrier to breaking into the market. If you have a company capable of producing the same devices with the same or superior programming will you be able to license use of the necessary satellites for GPS etc or will you need to have your own? From who would you license if its possible? This seems like a grab to become a monopoly.

Blogger dc.sunsets March 25, 2017 11:59 AM  

Self driving mining trucks make a lot of sense and farm equipment like combined harvesters already don't really require operators.

Industrial applications abound, but I do wonder about personal vehicles. Self-driving cars seem like just another way to accommodate increasingly disabled people. In an idiocracy everything must be automated for survival.

Blogger Mastermind March 25, 2017 12:02 PM  

commuting is a huge chore in north america. even if you live in a big city you can spend well over an hour packed in a subway full of people. If you drive, enjoy being stuck in traffic. Self-driving cars would put an end to all of it.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:02 PM  

The point of business strategy, as they explicitly teach it in MBA programs, is to obtain monopoly profits, in one way or another. Thats what product differentiation is all about. Else you are selling commodities. That is the hard-headed truth. If you arent consciously or unconsciously trying for a partial monopoly you arent going to get anywhere.

Blogger Troy Lee Messer March 25, 2017 12:03 PM  

Amen Vox. I hate even automatic transmissions.

Blogger frigger611 March 25, 2017 12:05 PM  

I think younger generations fail to embrace the idea of the ideal American of history, the rugged individual who carves a new world out of the wilderness and yearns to be free. This was once our identity.

The open road stretching for thousands of miles, being in control of your own machine as you explored the country's roads is living out the promise of our heritage. Men used to love their cars and to be in control of so much raw power. The love affair with the car, the open road, and the feeling of liberty that this pairing offered seems to be waning. I guess it was all just white privilege and the bigoted dominance of a dying patriarchy.

I think being raised by helicopter parents and daycare workers has indoctrinated younger Americans with a sense of fear of the world around them and that there should always be someone ELSE, an older adult, who should take charge and direct their lives. Self-reliance is not a concept that they're willing to adopt.

Hell, young'ns aren't opposing that government monitor them and take over their lives, they're begging for it. I absolutely despise the idea self-driving cars, because it only means that they will outlaw human drivers one day - for our own safety, of course - it's too dangerous, and maybe American Christians might choose to use cars as weapons.

Driving a fine car is pure joy. Too bad it won't last...

Blogger Lazarus March 25, 2017 12:07 PM  

Timmy3 wrote:I am looking forward to the technology.... I'm getting to the age where driving at night is increasingly less safe for me and others.

I wear sunglasses at night with PolarizedPlus2 lenses. Kills any glare. Works great. You should try that.

Blogger Silly But True March 25, 2017 12:12 PM  

Technology companies have established for themselves that the consumable a la carte marketplace is the business of tomorrrow.

They will force everything to go this route.

Blogger Ned March 25, 2017 12:12 PM  

I have a friend who drove a semi for FedEx. The company had purchased Volvo rigs with bells and whistles for crash avoidance. On any interstate, the alarm would go nuts whenever the truck was approaching an underpass. Apparently, all the drivers hated this anti-collision feature, and ignored it. The Boy Who Cried Wolf comes to mind.

Idiocracy.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:13 PM  

Technology advances. Once liberty meant a horse and flintlock, now a pickup and AR-15, tomorrow a flying saucer and a plasma gun.
Those flying saucers/cars are overdue.
In any case, technologies get obsolete, like those horses.
They will pry my film cameras from my cold dead hands (yes they will), but even I use digital for anything serious, and so also the rest of you.

Blogger Yarnwinder March 25, 2017 12:16 PM  

After MapQuest nearly landed me in a swamp, I figure these driverless cars would have similar problems...

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky March 25, 2017 12:20 PM  

Uber's fascination with self-driving cars is easy to explain. They can get rid of their number one problem, the drivers. Everything about the drivers is a nightmare for Uber and the number one source of legal problems, public relations problems, performance problems.

Humans are hard to manage. If Uber could figure out a way to get rid of human passengers I'm sure they'd do that too. Their number two source of headache after the drivers is the passengers.

Skynet hasn't become aware yet, and figured out how to launch Twitter Shame Campaigns and legal dramas. Although, when AI become sufficiently advanced, I recommend a VFM or Dread Ilk algorithm to launch exactly this!

Google, Apple, and so forth are interested because Travis Kalanick is one of the cool kids around Silicon Valley Town, so hey there's a trend to follow and throw VC money at. And, he raised $60 billion for this fiasco, it's a trend with a payoff.

Of course, Uber has done nothing but piss all that away like from a firehose, but that never once stopped anybody in Silicon Valley. Amazon paved the way there, it's amazing how much money you can blow through on nothing but a trendy promise in Silicon Valley. Standard business models do not apply. If you're running with the "in-crowd", you can just bullshit your way through everything, just like Bezos.

Anonymous Ray P March 25, 2017 12:23 PM  

Nerd fave Arthur Clarke stated his desire for a self-driving car in Profiles of the future circa 1961. He liked to keep his hands free and attention elsewhere.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:26 PM  

Back in the old days, we were solving structural engineering systems of linear equations with pads of forms and adding machines.
An essential skill for engineers was logarithms on your slide rule. You couldnt even start engineering school without being competent with that; schools had slide-rule classes for those dufuses that hadnt picked that up long before. It was easy to predict the engineering program washouts.
Damned calculators and computers, a whole way of life gone. I still have my sliderules, and my dads too.
There are all sorts of nostalgia, for a lot of different things.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:31 PM  

As for who will eventually profit from this, should it come to pass (and I think it will, eventually), it is of course most likely to be Apple, Google, or one of those guys, just as it would have been silly to bet against Xerox for PCs and Kodak for digital imaging.

Anonymous Ray P March 25, 2017 12:37 PM  

Sliderules? I played with my scientist father's. In nineteen eighties school math I had to use Napier's bones though I had a scientific pocket-calculator.

Anonymous kfg March 25, 2017 12:42 PM  

@1: "The thing is all cars need proximity sensors and GPS to make it possible."

And some sort of device to ensure that they stay in the same track. Like some sort of "rail" or something.

@3: " If you have to do the Los Angeles rush hour you are very likely in the market for . . ."

See above.

Anonymous Loki7 March 25, 2017 12:42 PM  

Say, there were auto rigs and farm tractors in the current flick `Logan`. Funny hoe the trucks only blew their horns just before almost hitting someone.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:43 PM  

Scientific pocket calculators were just coming in when I was finishing up Eng. school. The Texas Instruments RPN types were infinitely desirable but expensive.

Anonymous Just another commenter March 25, 2017 12:44 PM  

And for those who want to geek out on slide rules.
Derek's Virtual Slide Rule Gallery.

I have one, and sort of used to know how to use it, but there are better ways to calculate these days. But as a way of teaching numbers sense via logs? Invaluable.

Anonymous Inquiring Minds March 25, 2017 12:44 PM  

Self-driving cars would be a boon for me, at least. I work in a major city and a reliable self-driving car would allow me to live much further away from the city proper because I could get work done during my commute. Otherwise, I'd have hours taken out of my day to get there and back if I lived where I'd like.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 12:45 PM  

As a professional tech, it seems to me that tech does make the world better. Its odd to dispute this I think.

Your strawman-fu is weak and you should feel bad. We're not talking about all technology ever. We're talking about a particular new technology, which appears to many of us as if it's being pushed onto an infrastructure that isn't built for it, for a public that didn't ask for it, because a few spergy tech types with more money than common sense think it's cool. I work in tech too, and I know what they're like.

The feds pushed the first passenger-side airbags into cars as soon as they thought the technology was ready -- and then oops, some kids got their heads taken off. You're not a Luddite if you think this particular tech needs another decade or two to mature, or that it will never work with the roads and driving laws we currently have. It is possible for a new technology to be harmful or unready, but you'll never get the people at places like Google to admit that.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 12:49 PM  

After MapQuest nearly landed me in a swamp, I figure these driverless cars would have similar problems...

Until about a year ago, Google Maps insisted my address was about a half-mile away, on a separate road. I can just see it: I call one of their robot cars to drive me home drunk from the bar, and end up walking into a strange house and climbing into bed.... Yeah, I don't think so.

Blogger Chris Mallory March 25, 2017 12:50 PM  

It looks like the Uber was hit by a car being driven by a real person. Also, the Uber did have a person behind the wheel, no comment yet on if they had control of the vehicle.

"The Uber vehicle was not responsible for the incident and there were no injuries, Tempe police information officer Josie Montenegro told Bloomberg News. Another car failed to yield for the Uber car, causing the autonomous vehicle to flip on its side, according to the police report."

"There was a person behind the wheel," said Montenegro regarding the Uber vehicle. "It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision."

Blogger J Van Stry March 25, 2017 12:53 PM  

It's because driverless cars give the government control over where you are going, and also tells them where you are going.
Notice how the government has cracked down heavily on air travel in the USA? How they've made it very painful to engage in, with all sorts of searches and harassment, that gets worse every year? How you now need special ID just to fly inside the US?
How they're talking about doing this now at Train and Bus stations?
All repressive regimes control the movement of their citizens. The USA is just going down that road now.

Blogger Silly But True March 25, 2017 12:53 PM  

@Ray P: "Nerd fave Arthur Clarke stated his desire for a self-driving car in Profiles of the future circa 1961. He liked to keep his hands free and attention elsewhere."

Hands free and attention elsewhere? Ain't that the truth; Clarke had so many children to rape it annoyed him to have to waste time on things like driving.

Blogger Dave March 25, 2017 12:53 PM  

No cause for alarm; police determined it was the other car's fault, not the Uber car. In fact, Uber isn"t even sure if the car was under human or computer control at the time of the accident. It"s a mystery why they can't just ask the occupant of the Uber car. However, most importantly no Uber customers were in the car when the accident happened. Carry on.

The Uber vehicle was not responsible for the incident and there were no injuries, Tempe police information officer Josie Montenegro told Bloomberg News. Another car failed to yield for the Uber car, causing the autonomous vehicle to flip on its side, according to the police report.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:53 PM  

Its not ready today, but that doesnt mean it wont be, maybe sooner than you assume. I wouldnt laugh at any tech, because betting against it is just as bad as going off prematurely.
Yes yes yes, I know spergy types. If I have a bad, self-contained problem I give it to them, their failure is perspective.
But its also a failure of perspective to focus on immediate detail problems and assume they are intractable.

Anonymous Roundtine March 25, 2017 12:55 PM  

It's not the automated car that is attractive, it's that you won't need to buy a car if they're automated. If you buy a car for commuting to work, it sits at your home or office for as many as 22 hours a day. Now imagine you can a) rent the car out for several hours a day and earn a profit on your investment or (more likely) b) pay a small fee to catch an automated ride to and from work.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 12:55 PM  

As for the government pushing things, you wont get a defense for that from me.

Blogger Dave March 25, 2017 12:56 PM  

Oh drat, Chris beat me to the punch by 3 minutes.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 12:58 PM  

And some sort of device to ensure that they stay in the same track. Like some sort of "rail" or something.

Also, for the sake of efficiency and safety, we could link the cars together into series, which would obey signals along the rail, and follow a schedule to prevent collisions between different links of cars sharing the same rail system. Perhaps there could be marked crossings where human drivers and pedestrians could safely cross the rails where these car-links travel.

It's an idea whose time may have come!

Anonymous Sheiko29 March 25, 2017 12:59 PM  

Maybe they won't be such dicks about a little green puke in the backseat.

Blogger JaimeInTexas March 25, 2017 12:59 PM  

I would like to have a car that I can tell it the destination and it take me there. Set a trip while I sleep and wake up at my destination. Spend a day or days at destination and the setup next destination and get there while sleeping.
We are far from that kind of system.
BTW, I have been driving manual transmission for over 30yrs and I agree that automatics are partially responsible for creating bad drivers.

Blogger marknivenczy March 25, 2017 1:03 PM  

Make sure to read the "terms of service" that will be required before the car moves an inch.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 1:05 PM  

The train analogy is fine - just make it more flexible, sell individual seats, make it independent from rails, and you have a - bus!
Sadly both of these, bus and train, have problems with flexibility and timing.
Thats why there is a problem to solve and value to add. Hence market opportunity.
This is a far, far more legit line of R&D than "alternative energy".

Anonymous kfg March 25, 2017 1:08 PM  

Once upon a time bicycle wheels were secured to threaded axles by nuts. Then bicycle racers started moving off of short oval tracks and began traversing long distances over the roads, where flats were more common and cost a lot of lost time in making a change.

So racers started replacing the hex nuts with big ass wingnuts. The wheels were innately less secure, but any loss of security was more than made up for by the quicker process of wheel changes.

One day, a man racing in cold conditions got a flat, but his fingers were too cold to work the wingnut, so he got an idea - he installed a hollow axle in the wheel and passed a skewer through it, with a not on one for adjustment, and a cam lever on the other. This was less secure than a nutted axle, put an undesirable side load on the bearings and was rather fragile (both axles and skewers were prone to breaking), but it was an advance for quick wheel changes.

Then, in the seventies, people who never raced started riding racing bikes for utilitarian purposes. But over time they started to notice something - their wheels were really, really easy to take off, i.e., really easy to steal.

No problem, the tech boys got to work and came up with quick release skewers that had . . . wait for it, wait for it . . . NUTS on the ends instead of cam.

So now, instead of having rugged and secure nutted axles, we have "quick release" skewers that don't release quickly, side load the bearings, but at least they're fragile.

All by solving one technical problem at a time.

Blogger Lance E March 25, 2017 1:09 PM  

I can explain the fascination - and this is not speculation.

For some companies, it is part of an ongoing hegemonization scheme to massively expand into the national infrastructure, either through consumer behavior (Internet of Things) or public-private partnerships (look up "Sidewalk Labs"). This sounds pretty evil, so it is tagged with two moral justifications. For Conservatives: If the AI becomes sufficiently advanced, it could reduce the overall accident rate, lower health care costs, etc. For Liberals: It increases "access" to transportation, especially for the disabled.

When it comes to Uber, however, I think they simply see it as a way to cut costs. Drivers are not the product, they merely facilitate the product which is delivering you from point A to point B. If they can avoid having those pesky drivers involved, then they can avoid all of the various scandals associated with said drivers and maybe even eliminate some legal/regulatory obstacles. It's harder to call them an illegal/unlicensed taxi service if all they're providing is the vehicles themselves; they're more like a car-rental service.

All of the evidence is there in plain sight, in their press releases and statements to the corporate media. You just need to look for it.

In that sense, Uber's plans may be merely misguided or careless, as opposed to part of a corporatist strategy, which may be at least partly why Google has started attacking them.

Blogger Al From Bay Shore March 25, 2017 1:13 PM  

VD, I'm off topic (I attempted to email this question via the "Outlook" piece but it didn't work out well). This is awkwardly worded but I did my best. This has been bothering me for a few months.

You posited something about the character of a nation. That in addition to commonly held values and beliefs, a nation also includes commonly held bloodlines (genetics). I identify as "Black" but, Black folks, like myself, who have been here (America) since the 18th and/ or 17th centuries are mixed up with European Blood, and, to some minor extent, vice versa.

You support your claims through an invocation of the Preamble's clause about securing "...the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...". I get that and I agree with this.

Here are the questions: Is there a line of demarcation insofar as who "is" and who is "not" the "posterity"? Where is that line of demarcation? Are, for example, the grandchildren of 1920s era Italian and Polish immigrants the posterity though they may embrace the same values? How about Puerto Ricans who are descendants of Spaniards, Native Americans, and, to some extent, West Africans?

This question has been bothering me. I would have done this via Outlook but, as I said earlier, using that email method did not work out well.

I am genuinely curious because I'm trying to resolve the issue of defining what it means to be American. And I do not subscribe to that proposition nation bullshit (sorry for cursing. I did it for effect).
alfrombayshore1@hotmail.com

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 1:16 PM  

Those utilitarian fellows were buying the wrong bikes, because they werent, mostly, truly utilitarian, they were following fashion, buying things that looked like glamorous racing bikes.

Actual utilitarians like Chinese commuters did not have this problem because their bikes were utilitarian.

Blogger buwaya March 25, 2017 1:22 PM  

Looking at it from a consumer point of view - it is a matter of class. Among the truly rich here, and the more-or-less rich elsewhere, driving is a chore, so they hire servants, drivers. A driver is a very handy fellow to have.
This is a driver for the masses, that bit of power and convenience once reserved for the haut-bourgeoisie or the gentry, just as the automobile gave the common man a carriage.

Blogger pyrrhus March 25, 2017 1:25 PM  

After all, who would want a government programmed, government controlled car that will also report every movement you make. And eventually, it will prevent you from going to places the government doesn't want you to visit.

Anonymous kfg March 25, 2017 1:35 PM  

"Among the truly rich here, and the more-or-less rich elsewhere, driving is a chore, so they hire servants, drivers."

Once upon a time, before the advent of every car having it's own motor, the well off could ride a "mass transit" car in a private compartment, the rich could own a private car and the wealthy could even arrange for a "special" to haul their private car privately.

Most of the problems we see with rail today are due to trying to fix the broken we've created out of a system that originally worked.

See nutted bicycle wheel skewers.

Blogger Ceerilan March 25, 2017 1:44 PM  

Uber the company fits quite the same mold as Apple and Google, with the exception that they can be more ruthless.

Blogger Shimshon March 25, 2017 1:55 PM  

Long-haul inter-city trucking makes sense. The Interstates outside the city especially, are easily navigated with today's technology. Plus, the potential money made is huge, given the potential efficiency gains are substantial. Beyond the labor cost, automated rigs can operate nearly 24/7.

The obsession with city driving at this point is strange, because it's just not viable without eliminating all human-driven vehicles (except perhaps bicycles). Perhaps even then...

Blogger mgh March 25, 2017 2:02 PM  

You are right about the fascist angle. I can easily foresee when it will be illegal to self-operate a vehicle on certain roads at certain times of the day. Have a wreck while the vehicle is under your control and you will be treated like a criminal.

Anonymous Phantasmic March 25, 2017 2:12 PM  

@62

Yeah it "makes sense" until you realize that the safety requirements would make it quite easy to bring one to a stop and steal all the cargo.

Anonymous kfg March 25, 2017 2:16 PM  

"Long-haul inter-city trucking makes sense."

That makes even less sense than driverless cars. The efficiency loss is huge. Driverless rail shipment of containers long haul, with tractors for the "last mile."

" . . . eliminating all human-driven vehicles (except perhaps bicycles)."

Which are literally human driven. Meat motored. You don't drive an automobile, you operate it. "Driving" is terminology carried over from animal power, like the word "car," which is easier to spit out than "automobile."

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 2:25 PM  

The obsession with city driving at this point is strange, because it's just not viable without eliminating all human-driven vehicles (except perhaps bicycles).

Yep. Get all the humans off the streets, and it might work okay. But having both out there looks like a mess. Humans and robots will "think" differently and have different reactions and reaction times. I've avoided accidents by noticing that the person who pulled up at a stop sign ahead of me never looked my way, so I was able to slow down before they pulled out in front of me. A robot is not going to do that -- and I'm not going to be able to do it, if the car that pulls out in front of me is a malfunctioning robot.

But the degree of difficulty is a big part of the obsession for the tech types. Running a rail operation (or playing a lot of Transport Tycoon Deluxe) doesn't get you applause at tech conferences. We need to sic all these wannabe world-builders on a manned Mars expedition instead.

Anonymous Ironsides March 25, 2017 2:29 PM  

buwaya wrote:Looking at it from a consumer point of view - it is a matter of class. Among the truly rich here, and the more-or-less rich elsewhere, driving is a chore, so they hire servants, drivers. A driver is a very handy fellow to have.

This is a driver for the masses, that bit of power and convenience once reserved for the haut-bourgeoisie or the gentry, just as the automobile gave the common man a carriage.


Of course, there are oddballs like this one here who ENJOY driving, and hate being a passenger. I suppose the other five humans on earth with this opinion will also have to become ATV enthusiasts when road driving is made illegal.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 3:03 PM  

Inquiring Minds wrote:Self-driving cars would be a boon for me, at least. I work in a major city and a reliable self-driving car would allow me to live much further away from the city proper because I could get work done during my commute. Otherwise, I'd have hours taken out of my day to get there and back if I lived where I'd like.
You'd be surprised how much actual thinking you can get done during that 2-hour drive. Especially if you turn off the damn radio.

Telecommuting is going to kill the market for self-driving cars. It's already here. I spent most of the last 12 years telecommuting.

Anonymous Walter March 25, 2017 3:10 PM  

I dont like driving, I would love self driving cars. Mostly because I could get a lot reading/working done during the driving time.

Blogger KSC March 25, 2017 3:21 PM  

It would be pretty significant for the blind, whose travel is still limited in a lot of ways. There are obvious drawback,s though.

Anonymous map March 25, 2017 3:27 PM  

There is no such thing as a self-driving car. The car is driven by someone...in this case a programmer's algo.

The problem is, this algo will be standardized across every vehicle. Every car using these algos will not only drive the same, they will default to the safest type of driver...an old woman. The end result is a massive increase in commute times.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper March 25, 2017 3:33 PM  

I personally hate operating motor vehicles but self driving driverless cars are about people control and profit, nothing else.

Big money and the ability to take away one more vector for personal freedom.

For the elite what's not to like?

Blogger Jose March 25, 2017 3:35 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jose March 25, 2017 3:40 PM  

Maybe it's because of my job, but I ride self-driving cars 2-6 times a week. Well, they're self-driving from my point of view, being town cars with a Russian-accented driver in front. The rationale of the client (who pays for the car) is that it's worth the extra $100/hr of paying a car service: they're paying my consulting rates for the time I'm in the car, and with what I charge, they'd rather have me prepare for the meeting (on the way in) and working on the report (on the way back) than driving [slowly and without producing any value for them].

For people whose time is less valuable, I guess the {human driver + nice car} can be replaced by {their personal vehicle + automation}. Simple economics, no conspiracy theory required.

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey March 25, 2017 3:58 PM  

@buwaya

"Real men use South Bend lathes (I learned on a South Bend, made in 1922)"

OK Mr. Agree and amplify, how about the "Internet of Things?" Can we at least acknowledge that is overhyped? I don't need, or want, a touchscreen on every appliance. I don't want my refrigerator talking to whoever over the interwebz. I just want it to keep my food cold.

BTW, why so much hype for 3D printing, as compared to CNC machining, anyway? Never quite understood all the excitement over that.

Anonymous Satan's Hamster March 25, 2017 4:00 PM  

"Telecommuting is going to kill the market for self-driving cars."

Bingo. By the time we have a car that can drive itself safely in a city in any road and weather conditions with no steering wheel... telepresense will have made cars a quaint curiosity that some people still maintain as a hobby.

The need to ship our bodies around to 'be' somewhere is rapidly vanishing. Working on self-driving cars today is like working on developing a better buggy whip in the 1920s.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 4:05 PM  

Francis Parker Yockey wrote:BTW, why so much hype for 3D printing, as compared to CNC machining, anyway? Never quite understood all the excitement over that.
It allows people who can't do trig or use a micrometer to pretend they are making something.

Anonymous Leatherwing March 25, 2017 4:06 PM  

Every car using these algos will not only drive the same, they will default to the safest type of driver...an old woman.

Maybe perceived as safer, but they cause a lot of accidents that they are blissfully unaware of. Slow drivers are far more dangerous than fast drivers, especially on freeways.

Blogger Buybuydandavis March 25, 2017 4:11 PM  

From the linked article
The Uber vehicle was not responsible for the incident and there were no injuries, Tempe police information officer Josie Montenegro told Bloomberg News. Another car failed to yield for the Uber car, causing the autonomous vehicle to flip on its side, according to the police report.

Blogger DeploraBard March 25, 2017 4:13 PM  

You just had a post titled SJW car crash. I thought this was a duplicate.

Blogger Anthony March 25, 2017 4:28 PM  

Nerd fave Arthur Clarke stated his desire for a self-driving car in Profiles of the future circa 1961. He liked to keep his hands free and attention elsewhere.

On his pizza.

Blogger Anthony March 25, 2017 4:30 PM  

The problem is, this algo will be standardized across every vehicle. Every car using these algos will not only drive the same, they will default to the safest type of driver...an old woman. The end result is a massive increase in commute times.

If the algorithm keeps slow cars out of tee left lane, it could be huge!

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 4:39 PM  

@19 dc sunsets
Self driving mining trucks make a lot of sense

Not really, no. Ask some pit operators. Those are very big and very, very expensive. Cost / benefit just isn't there after the first major rollover due to a situation the AI isn't programmed for.

and farm equipment like combined harvesters already don't really require operators.

Running a combine on a fenced in section of corn in Iowa is not exactly the same problem as running a tiny car through rush hour freeway traffic in any urban area.

I can understand why the NSA, CIA, FBI and other Alphabets would very much like to be able to take control of individual's motor vehicles. A one-care accident crash into a bridge abutment at high speed is just another accident, no way it could be a targeted assassination, nuh uh.

Blogger Matt March 25, 2017 4:44 PM  

I dont see "robitic service industry" really taking off any time soon. Look at pharmaciesm only CVS has self checkout and its not that much faster. Always someone needs help from the staff. Even worse with grocery stores. I finally saw a McDonalds with a computer kiosk and the line was huge.

People are too dumb to use automatednservuces, even id the service wasnt mind.numbingly awful. I tried using an automated parking garage in Manhattan, tired od the dumb spic attendants proving they dont know how to park a car uphill, and left after 5 minutes of adjusting the eay I was parked on the loading dock.

The automated utopia of the future is not so at hand.

OpenID b1bae96e-6447-11e3-b6bb-000f20980440 March 25, 2017 4:46 PM  

If my car could return home after dropping me off at my office 9 miles from my house and pick me up at the end of the day, we could be a 1 car family. That would be a substantial cost savings once the self-driving technology hits consumer friendly prices.



I heard a lawyer this week say that while self-driving autos may be possible they won`t roll given the current state of case law regarding lawsuits and car crashes.

As soon as its better than half the drivers on the road it starts saving the insurance companies money. It might never win a NASCAR (although that is fairly predictable so maybe it would) but if its better than 80% of the people out there, you are talking about massive amounts of savings. In fact, there are legions of lawyers that all they do is process auto insurance claims. It would put a large chunk of them out of a job.

WillBest

Anonymous map March 25, 2017 4:51 PM  

So a car fails to lead, and the Uber car, all on its own, flips on its side...and not as a result of any impact?

That is the big story.

Blogger Michael Maier March 25, 2017 4:56 PM  

They can't even "improve" debit/CC at check out and idiots exist that want "industry leaders" driving our cars for us?

Blogger Benjamin Kraft March 25, 2017 5:41 PM  

There are many aspects to it.

Proponents think:
-That it will increase the safety of the commute, eventually.
-Cuts the complete idiots out of the process (even though this isn't true).
-That they can cut out the middleman (in the case of taxi co.s, Uber, etc.), much like automated factories.
-That they don't derive any particular pleasure from driving, and would prefer to do something else during that time and/or save the time for work, etc.

Critics think:
-More complex tech = more complex and COMMON critical failures.
-This puts idiots that I have no control over in charge of my life.
-Easily susceptible to malefic agents, because machines cannot respond as effectively to the unforeseen and backdoors can be built in by big gov.
-That they actually enjoy driving.

Then there are also quite a few techno-cultists who believe (in less words) than literal deus ex machina is a good idea. They believe that they can create a god with their own hands, and subsequently ensure its loyalty enough to let them ride it so that they too can become gods. These are precisely the same people trying to develop strong AI, and who believe in the "singularity". Ultimately, they believe that they can force their way back into the Garden, little comprehending that they'll inevitably be permanently stripped of their flawed souls in the process.

Anonymous RedJack March 25, 2017 5:55 PM  

I deal with automation. It is literally what I now do.

The rewards are their, but the risks are huge. It will make a nice kill switch to shut down society, or a particular troublemaker.

Blogger Peter Jackson March 25, 2017 5:57 PM  

Self driving cars are a waste of time. Litigation issues alone will keep them from ever being practical.

Blogger Cassandros the Elder March 25, 2017 6:03 PM  

I have to admit, I do not understand the fascination of technology-companies with self-driving cars.

Honestly, as a former automotive safety engineer in the 1970s (crashworthiness, statistical analysis of accident statistics, advanced occupant restraint systems, sled and car crash testing) I don't understand it, either. I later became a lawyer and handled crashworthiness design lawsuits (products liability) on behalf of several automobile companies.

After that, I went back to school and became a bioengineer (hope I'm not boring you) and studied AI (neural networks and other forms of machine learning). You'd have to be crazy and/or totally naive to put your life in the hands of an AI driving your car. Seriously.

Think a little bit. For a car to drive itself, actually to have AI software driving it for you, it can't just be as good as the worst drivers. States give drivers licenses to almost anybody, and they let insurance companies and bankruptcy courts sort out the bad outcomes.

With AI driving your car, you'll always have one or more deep-pocketed companies standing behind the bad outcomes. Thus, your AI will have to be better than the best drivers or accidents will make a lot of plaintiff lawyers very rich and make those companies regret ever having thought of the cool new self-driving car technology. That's just not going to happen.

Same with flying cars.

Anonymous RA March 25, 2017 6:05 PM  

There was an article over at ieee.org (iirc) that talked about the different levels of autonomous operation and how they related to self driving cars. Basically the article said the gold standard is Level 5 autonomous which was taken to mean the ability to drive anywhere on any road in (almost) any weather. The author interviewed some experts in the field and came to the conclusion that this capability was likely at least 20 years away. Plus the issues of liability are still yet to be sorted. But self driving trucks restricted to the interstate highways is likely much more doable; these we should see a lot of by 2025 or so.

Regarding the ability to hijack cargoes by using the algorithms to force the truck to stop, it's likely that by the time we see a lot of self driving trucks on the road, this scenario will have been thought about among others.

I can see a definite market for access to self driving cars for seniors who can't drive anymore. Think of our parents that we had to take away their cars, what if we could give them the capability to call a car to take them places?

On the downside, just like phones are now tracking devices that happen to make calls and send texts, so cars will become tracking devices that happen to take you places. But if some 3 letter agency hacks a car to kill its occupant by driving it off the road and this gets reported, that will put a huge damper on sales and rentals as no one will want to ride in a potential death trap under someone else's control. Not to mention just plain old ordinary hackers that want to break in and/or steal the cars.

But I can see the day when garages and maybe even driveways become relics as people call a car to their house anytime they want to go somewhere.

Blogger Cassandros the Elder March 25, 2017 6:18 PM  

The author interviewed some experts in the field and came to the conclusion that this capability was likely at least 20 years away.

In my experience, when a technology journalist says a technology might be ready in 20 years, in reality, it means never.

As to something short of "Level 5" autonomy, sure. There are AI technologies that can help drivers at the margins, like self parking or lane departure warning. I might even believe that some day (10 years?) you could have trains of cars on the freeway travelling bumper to bumper with a lead car, um, leading the way. But self-driving, no.

As to self driving trucks, I foresee worse accidents and the trucking companies as additional deep pockets. But no one ever believes Cassandros, so speculate away...

Blogger Deadmau5 Patton March 25, 2017 6:21 PM  

"Think of our parents that we had to take away their cars, what if we could give them the capability to call a car to take them places?"

Hey man, I'm so happy you woke up from your coma, but we have a lot of catching up to do.

There are cars for hire now almost everywhere in the world. We call them "taxis."

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 6:26 PM  

RA wrote:Think of our parents that we had to take away their cars, what if we could give them the capability to call a car to take them places?

They already have that. Literally. Uber or Lyft is available for a moderate price, on demand, almost anywhere.
How do autonomous vehicles improve on that service?

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 6:37 PM  

@92 RA
Regarding the ability to hijack cargoes by using the algorithms to force the truck to stop, it's likely that by the time we see a lot of self driving trucks on the road, this scenario will have been thought about among others.


Sure. Just like Microsoft. They've totallythought about all the hacker scenarios that might take over your webcam, or chain your office desktop into a botnet, and as a result Windows is so very, very secure. What could go wrong with adding semi trucks to the Internet of Hackable Things?

I mean, it's not like anyone remotely hacked a Tesla 5 last year or anything.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 6:38 PM  

There are AI technologies that can help drivers at the margins, like self parking or lane departure warning.

Exactly. Or sensors that hit the brakes for you if you're about to back into something. That kind of safety-assist technology can develop through the market, and people will embrace it as it becomes practical and worth the price. Maybe someday it will evolve into actual driverless cars. But there's nothing sexy about doing it that way -- gotta get them out on the road now when it still seems like science fiction.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 6:43 PM  

There are AI technologies that can help drivers at the margins, like self parking or lane departure warning.

Except when they hinder. Lane departure warnings are annoying in areas that don't have lanes, but do have gravel or other stuff on the road that the car "thinks" are lanes. Backup cameras are great until they get snow or mud on them and stop working. Then it's back to "look out the window" again. Anti skid systems are great except when they get in the way of actually recovering from a skid by stepping on one brake disk too hard.

Giving false confidence to stupid, bad drivers is not a win. Because they'll still be cluttering up the roads.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 6:49 PM  

There are cars for hire now almost everywhere in the world. We call them "taxis."

Heck, in my town, the bus system provides wheelchair-capable vans for door-to-door service for senior citizens, at $2.50 per trip. It's $1.00/trip for the handicapped.

Again, it just looks like a solution in search of a problem that's already been solved a couple simpler ways.

Anonymous Mr. Rational March 25, 2017 6:55 PM  

map wrote:The problem is, this algo will be standardized across every vehicle. Every car using these algos will not only drive the same, they will default to the safest type of driver...an old woman. The end result is a massive increase in commute times.
The cars have millisecond responses and full communications in real time, so they "platoon" at speed.  They leave traffic lights almost bumper-to-bumper, multiplying the number which pass through in a cycle.  Instead of racing to lights, they cruise at the speed which gets them there when the stopped traffic ahead gets started again... which they'll know to the millisecond because both the vehicles and the traffic lights are in real-time communication.

Self-driving cars will multiply the capacity of many roads.

Anonymous Avalanche March 25, 2017 7:02 PM  

I just keep repeating: "Blue Screen of Death. Blue Screen of Death. BSOD."

LITERALLY!!!

On the other hand, my cool new KIA NIRO beeps at me if I get too close to the road lines on either side ( or slide into a turning lane WITHOUT a blinker -- cause I'm 'crossing' a line); it beeps if I get to close to the car ahead and am not already braking (and scared me once putting the brakes on "for" me: not so fond of that)! I'm getting 55+ mpg (!!), and it switches effortlessly from gas to electric engine and back. There is SO much we can get from auto technology, withOUT risking death from some driverless car mistaking a semi-truck for blue sky!

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 7:09 PM  

Self-driving cars will multiply the capacity of many roads.

You bet. Just as giving every college student a laptop computer has led to a new Renaissance.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 7:14 PM  


Again, it just looks like a solution in search of a problem that's already been solved a couple simpler ways.



Yeah, plus the 0bama admin's multi year push for urban infill to make towns look more like Manhattan is supposed to pedestrianize everyone's neighborhood anyway. Walk to your mass transit station and ride the bus to your job, like in the 1950's is a kind of solution in some urban areas for some people. A whole lot of money has been spent on that, so it's just bound to work.

But those solutions don't come with a major tech coolness factor. "Sanjip got a self driving electric golf cart, why can't I have one too!?:

Blogger JohnR219 March 25, 2017 7:16 PM  

No one is going to be sleeping or probably getting any work done in a self-driving car...the driver is a fail-safe...you'll be watching the road in case the AI fails...

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) March 25, 2017 7:22 PM  

36. buwaya March 25, 2017 12:43 PM
The Texas Instruments RPN types were infinitely desirable but expensive.



HP 16c, bitchez.



19. dc.sunsets March 25, 2017 11:59 AM
Self driving mining trucks make a lot of sense



... the fuck are you talking about, boy?

Mining, of ALL things, will be the least suited to AI control.

the very mining operation itself is constantly destroying and/or rebuilding the roadbed and changing necessary routing through the mine. hell, in Florida sand mines, you start at the back of the property and dig a lake towards the front of the property til you ain't got no more dirt. you get a dumbass operator who digs straight to the front in one strip and then tracks to the back of the lot to dig another strip, you wind up having to back trucks like a half mile back into the pit, because there's no room for turn around back at the new pit face.

mine conditions are HIGHLY variable and are subject to all kinds of soft spots and load spillage and clay getting wetted down etc.

the very action of the loaded trucks themselves destroys the haul roads and so the road is constantly being changed, just because it's constantly getting graded.

you think they've got problems out on the road with fairly consistent lane markers, widths, surface firmness and friction coefficient and you want these things in mines?

you're out of your damn ... ahem ... mine is what you are.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 7:23 PM  

the driver is a fail-safe...you'll be watching the road in case the AI fails...

Oh, so it's like riding with a woman at the wheel!

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) March 25, 2017 7:24 PM  

104. JohnR219 March 25, 2017 7:16 PM
you'll be watching the road in case the AI fails...



you say that, but that's not true.

people are lazy, after the first week they're going to ignore other traffic.

Blogger tz March 25, 2017 7:25 PM  

I've been discussing this with MiSh = Mike Shedlock.
He hates workers like truck drivers, and doesn't understand what is required to make things work, especially on a low-visibility vehicle like a truck.

Also, he never has seen "chain up areas" and "chain removal areas" when crossing the rockies. How is the driverless truck going to put traction chains on and take them off?

Beyond that most interstates have RAILROAD TRACKS a short distance away. A Diesel Locomotive is two to three orders of magnitude more efficient - it never has to stop, can pull lots of cars, doesn't have to steer or be guided, but somehow a train of smart trucks will be better?

What if the first truck hits something and causes a chain reaction with all the drafting trucks.

Like the IoT botnets, they won't consider security until something really, really, bad happens. For $5 I can jam GPS (the remote control 315 Mhz is exactly 1/5th GPS). Cut off cell phone to the AI? What if a new stop sign has been added that isn't in the database or a detour or a stop sign?

There's a lot of desparate magic involved in getting it to work in silicon valley or other good weather areas. What happens if snow covers the traffic lights or they are out?

My company has a division trying to develop such technology though I'm in a different area. I don't see it.

It could be done, but then the trucks would cost $5Million a copy for a large fleet. Drivers are cheaper. Railroads are cheaper.

Anonymous kfg March 25, 2017 7:30 PM  

"Regarding the ability to hijack cargoes by using" a log "to force the truck to stop . . ."

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 7:38 PM  

bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) wrote:people are lazy, after the first week they're going to ignore other traffic.
It's already happened:
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/01/tesla-driver-killed-autopilot-self-driving-car-harry-potter

Anonymous Looking Glass March 25, 2017 8:03 PM  

There's actually a lot that goes into self-driving cars for why they're pushing there.

Firstly, it's a hard but doable engineering/tech problem, something people have been trying to do for years. The first versions have been around for a very long time, along with having a large Military benefit. (Supply Convoys that don't need humans are pretty valuable.)

The second thing is that the mass-scale levels of Optics, Camera, Senors and Processors are finally to the point they can handle the data load needed to fit in a car without taking up the wholly car itself. Which just means the tech is all there to do it, now it's just a software engineering problem.

The political point is a bit deeper, though. Leftists tend to be fascinated with Trains: not as Technology but as a Control mechanism. It's always fascinated me because Trains have a fairly specific use case. Distances need to be far enough, but not too far, thus it fits within a range beyond the Utility aspect of a Car and under the Distance aspect of Air Travel.

As Mr. MantraMan point to, it's in the same cluster of desires that brought on the Eugenics impulse. Weak souls always desire control over everything around them, including people.

Self-driving cars sounded a LOT more fun in 1995 before the NSA & CIA are spying on every electrical device you have. Though the collision-avoidance response systems is something I do look forward to being in most cars. That's an actual safety feature, since the one thing the computer/sensor arrays are better at is the .25s reaction time events.

@108 tz

I see you've interacted with Mish as well! The Man has a deep hatred for Semi-truck drivers. I do not get it. We only got semi-useful Automatic transmissions for Semi-trucks a few years ago, and they're still very expensive. Which points to self-driving Trucks being much more for large Trucks and not Semi-trucks, but the Liability issue is massive with those. It's one thing if a self-driver t-bones an SUV; it's wholly another issue when a Semi-truck wipes out a school bus.

Sir Issac Newton is a bastard.

Blogger Cassandros the Elder March 25, 2017 8:50 PM  

The second thing is that the mass-scale levels of Optics, Camera, Senors and Processors are finally to the point they can handle the data load needed to fit in a car without taking up the wholly car itself. Which just means the tech is all there to do it, now it's just a software engineering problem.

Well, if that's all it is, let's just do it. Forward!

Anonymous Avalanche March 25, 2017 9:08 PM  

@53 "Sadly both of these, bus and train, have problems with flexibility and timing."

To say nothing of having moslems with scimitars cutting heads off!

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 9:11 PM  

Looking Glass wrote:Supply Convoys that don't need humans are pretty valuable.
Supply Convoys that don't have humans are pretty vulnerable.

Blogger JaimeInTexas March 25, 2017 9:12 PM  

There is also car-to-car communications for navigation and coordination, especially at intersections. Proper coordination and traffic lights could go away and merging onto flowing traffic will keep from building clusters.

Blogger SirHamster March 25, 2017 9:13 PM  

map wrote:The problem is, this algo will be standardized across every vehicle. Every car using these algos will not only drive the same, they will default to the safest type of driver...an old woman. The end result is a massive increase in commute times.

Fortunately, algorithms being math and stuff, once solved always solved.

It's not like we have to worry about things like bit rot or AlgoDecay.

Anonymous Avalanche March 25, 2017 9:14 PM  

@64 "Yeah it "makes sense" until you realize that the safety requirements would make it quite easy to bring one to a stop and steal all the cargo."

But we can repair this next tech problem caused by the repair to the previous repair problem! A turret, a machine gun, and a semi-sentient "protector droid" mounted on the cargo trailer. Bingo!

Blogger NeoNietzsche: March 25, 2017 9:28 PM  

@92 " to mean the ability to drive anywhere on any road in (almost) any weather"

Yeah see? This stuff is designed by young-ish folks in sunny warm NO-SNOW California! One of the MOST important things about letting young folks drive themselves is that's how they learn to handle an icy skid, a snowy road, a snow bank! I cannot believe an AI can somehow be programmed to have the delicacy to *feel* the skid and the adaptation needed to get the car BACK into control! (Not even with fuzzy logic!)

Anonymous An Extremely Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than A Basket Of Twenty Deplorable Cents March 25, 2017 9:48 PM  

The biggest botnets now are part of the Internet of Things. Webcams, DVR's /smart tv's, routers. There are some realllllly big ones. Krebs got hit with a 363 Gigabit / sec DDOS last year.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/09/krebsonsecurity-hit-with-record-ddos/

So back to the self driving car which has nothing at all to do with the Internet of Hackable Things. The Feds are already pushing for car to car communications, what better way to spread a virus?

Black hat rents one of these things at a big mall, like Mall of America. Shoves a USB stick with virus into the car and just drive around. Loiter in traffic so's to infect as many other self driving cars as possible. Each infected car then of course will infect other cars. Do this in every major urban area, and in a short time thousands of these cars will be infected with your virus that does nothing.

The next April 1, a lot of cars won't open, but the car / phone interface will reveal that for a mere $5,000 deposited in a certain account, it can be driven again.

Since these things are sure to have GPS connections, it would be easy to drive someone waay out to nowhere, and then immobilize the car with the same "pay to restart" message.

Or, this could be personal. Infect some SJW's car, one fine night it takes him for a drive up to the nearest urban area to the most die-verse part that still exists, then stops and won't start. The car alarm goes off, the lights start flashing, the doors unlock and won't relock and the horn plays a loop of "Dixie". Hijinks ensue!

Hack the car and drive someone into a construction zone at 80+ MPH; states have nice maps of where those things are online. Bridge out ahead! Hang on!

Virus remains dormant until the car is on top of a tall hill, then floors the accelerator, turns off the steering wheel and breaks. What a ride!

Yeah, there's absolutely no downside to this idea whatsoever.
Lots of tech wizard H1B's, SJW's and others should get on board as soon as possible.

Think of it as evolution in action.

Blogger tz March 25, 2017 9:50 PM  

@92 Think of our parents that we had to take away their cars, what if we could give them the capability to call a car to take them places? it's called a Taxi or Uber.

@118 In all cases it is the COST. We can make a car that gets 50 MPG, has near zero emissions, goes reasonably, and costs six figures. We can also make a totally safe car that can protect the occupant even if it falls off a cliff.

The assumption Moore's law will continue is now provably wrong. We can't get CPUs much above 4GHz. Memory isn't half as expensive. SSDs and Hard Drives are still pushing the limit but they aren't the critical factor. SOME sensors are coming down in price, but not all. MiSH's Lidar chip won't work for a vehicle.

Then you need real software engineers. "someone will think of that" (security, blizzards, etc.) - 100 H1-Bs won't, and they won't pay for it (one prominent epic fail about a car being able to remotely have it's engine shut off was for a place that hired some other contractor for 50% less than I asked for).

Finally, most of these are assisted, which means precision digitization - the roads are mapped to centimeters, it knows where the road signs should be, etc. and would require a constant cell LTE signal (won't work here at the Zero-Bar ranch). Consider Cortana, Siri, Google Now don't do the voice recognition on the device. What happens when an IoT bot clog the pipes or are they going to use a completely private network.

Blogger tz March 25, 2017 10:01 PM  

Vehicle to Vehicle can neither be trusted nor secured.
NHSTA can make it illegal to hack or impersonate but can't insure security (nor will all the old trucks here have anything like it). Crypto? They can't secure blu-rays. And it would require a radio to send/receive, and that can be spoofed (like GPS Malwhere)

Anonymous Luke March 25, 2017 10:17 PM  

Some observations:

1) The prohibition against women driving in Saudi Arabia isn't because valuable cars are soiled if women touch the wheel. It's because women can't be trusted not to go screw men to whom they're not married, and a car without a male chaperone in it is vulnerable to enabling that infidelity. (A chauffeur is arguably more reliable than hackable software for squealing to the owner, the husband, after all.)

2) Uber (properly, Ubercab, their original, or true, name) is basically just a huge illegal scam. The drivers drive for free, once all the costs (especially vehicle depreciation/maintenance) are factored in. Ubercab's "insurance" has NEVER actually paid a claim, I understand. All the ignored rules for taxis (which Ubercabs ARE) for licensing, registration, signage, fingerprint background checks run by gov't police depts, etc. are also much of how their costs get lowered. Once Ubercab runs out of desperate car owners to defraud out of their vehicle equity, they'll have no business.

3) Ubercab prices (enabled by #2 above) are usually at below the long-known cost per mile of providing a vehicle. Uber can't possibly make a profit (with or without a driver) moving people around if they have to provide the vehicle. I figure they know this. Probably either Travis "high" Kalanick wants to license the software, or is trying to keep the investor gravy train coming for as long as possible, delaying the day the investors figure out it's just another Pets.com scam.

Anonymous Looking Glass March 25, 2017 10:20 PM  

@119 An Extremely Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than A Basket Of Twenty Deplorable Cents

Someone I follow was sorting through the Vault7 releases. There is a Dormant-Timed Execution attack vector for iOS devices. Makes sense. Makes a lot more sense when you realize a lot of Apple products are used in personal Medical devices. We've now established that the CIA can hack someone to death.

As I said, self-driving cars sounded a lot more fun 20 years ago.


@120 tz

Prius on Ice is still one of my favorite car tech jokes. The lower rolling resistance tires are great, right up until they touch ice. Then the car loves to just cut out. (They've mostly solved that issue, but that took a while.)

But I think the biggest issue, in many ways, with self-driving cars is the "no one is watching" issue. We have societies with trust-levels lowering, so unattended objects have a tendency to get damaged. Well, this is a high-speed, moving unattended object.

I guess we know why pro-Police State people are big promoters of this tech. They'll just remove the undesirables from their midst.

Blogger Mountain Man March 25, 2017 10:22 PM  

My mother relates to me the story that the first time she met my father he was talking about how eventually we would enter an age of “technological feudalism” as he called it. My mother was suitably impressed with his thesis that she ultimately married him. That was in 1967. We are fast approaching the culmination of this prediction.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr March 25, 2017 10:25 PM  

Being involved in the flight testing of highly autonomous aircraft, this is right down my alley.

Short form: The software companies have NO idea whatsoever of the level of reliability required. Their notion of "good enough for commercial sale" is what the aviation community considers adequate for developmental flight testing. NOT for service use.

Anti-crash systems are another matter. Those are already entering the market, I expect them to become standard by the mid 2020s.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 10:34 PM  

Luke wrote:2) Uber (properly, Ubercab, their original, or true, name) is basically just a huge illegal scam. The drivers drive for free, once all the costs (especially vehicle depreciation/maintenance) are factored in.
I know a fellow who drives Uber/Lyft (depends on who's paying more right then). He bought a separate car, a 2-year-old Toyota, with commercial insurance he pays out of his own pocket. Fares completely cover the cost of the car, insurance, repair, cleaning (regular cleaning is a must). He makes about $120-150 a day after expenses. Less than he made as a long haul truck driver, but he only works 8 hour days, he gets to be home and he can blow off a day if he feels like it.

Blogger kurt9 March 25, 2017 10:43 PM  

I think the development of aelf-driving cars will take longer than most people think. I think we will see automated freeway driving in the next 20 year, but automated surface street driving will take longer to perfect. Same for semi-rigs. I see these being automated for freeway driving, but human drivers pulling up in local "tugs" to transport trailers from freeway turnouts to customer destination or visa versa. Truck driving jobs will become local, but will not go away.

As a service, self-driving cars are very desirable. For one, you won't need to actually own a car to get around any longer if you live in the city. Fleets of self-driving cars will be far more convenient that present-day public transit. As many of you have pointed out, commuting is a time consuming hassle and telecommuting (working from home or local office) has been slow to catch on for a variety of reasons.

One thing I can tell you is that any kind of automation system (in any application and industry) will require maintenance and troubleshooting mechanics and technicians.

Anonymous CoolHand March 25, 2017 10:44 PM  

Ironsides wrote:Of course, there are oddballs like this one here who ENJOY driving, and hate being a passenger. I suppose the other five humans on earth with this opinion will also have to become ATV enthusiasts when road driving is made illegal.

You're not the only one.

I very much enjoy the act of driving, especially with a manual transmission. There is skill there, even yet today.

I expect this comes from having driven race cars for many years.

Hopefully we racers will be either too numerous to fuck with or too few to bother with when they get around to outlawing human drivers.

Watching robots oval race just isn't going to be same as doing it yourself.

Anonymous Luke March 25, 2017 10:46 PM  

Snidely, the only way to make dough with Ubercab is to play the "surge" scam, where drunk/naive/desperate customers pay hundreds of dollars for a 12-mile trip.

You really should learn more about the Ubercab scam. Internet forums where longtime drivers lament how they're about to go homeless and bankrupt would be a good start. The book "Raw Deal" also has an excellent chapter (which you can read much of on Amazon's site) on the Ubercab scam, along with pieces on Taskrabbit, AirBnB, etc.

Blogger Mountain Man March 25, 2017 10:48 PM  

Working and living in the great north woods -slaying timber for a living - , I can tell you self driving trucks, in this line of work - ain’t never gonna happen.
Not when the woods roads are long, tight narrow and then getting up onto the landings require finess and major skill..thats in the best of conditions. Then you throw in deep snow, ice and putting on and off chains. AI technology is impressive - but not that impressive. A skilled woods hauler will beat tech any day of the week.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 10:49 PM  

@127 kurt9

As a service, self-driving cars are very desirable.

For you? Yeah. For me? No.

Anonymous A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Deplorable Cents March 25, 2017 10:50 PM  

By the way, controlled fusion is only 20 years away.

Blogger Cail Corishev March 25, 2017 10:59 PM  

You really should learn more about the Ubercab scam.

It wouldn't be the first business model where it's possible for a small minority who do it just right under the right circumstances to make a living at it, while most take it in the shorts.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 25, 2017 11:04 PM  

Luke wrote:Snidely, the only way to make dough with Ubercab is to play the "surge" scam, where drunk/naive/desperate customers pay hundreds of dollars for a 12-mile trip.

You really should learn more about the Ubercab scam. Internet forums where longtime drivers lament how they're about to go homeless and bankrupt would be a good start.

I'm telling you I actually know a guy who's doing it, the brother of my son-in-law, and you tell me I need to educate myself and talk to anonymous users on an internet forum. Do you see the disconnect?
Of course you can go broke doing it. You can go broke doing anything. But it's not a scam.

"Surge fares" are for events like ball games and concerts. 10,000 people want a ride at the same time. There's more demand, so the price goes up. Very simple market dynamics.

He doesn't depend on those. He works 5:00 PM to 3:00 AM, Tuesday through Saturday. Mostly he drives people to/from the airport or to bars or home from bars. He knows his way around town and doesn't take fares that involve bad neighborhoods, or the charter/private aircraft terminal at the airport.

He's single and doesn't have a lot of requirements, no mortgage, minimal rent, minimal bills, and he makes a minimal living at it.
He enjoys it a hell of a lot more than long haul trucking.

Blogger YIH March 25, 2017 11:06 PM  

Shimshon wrote:Long-haul inter-city trucking makes sense. The Interstates outside the city especially, are easily navigated with today's technology. Plus, the potential money made is huge, given the potential efficiency gains are substantial. Beyond the labor cost, automated rigs can operate nearly 24/7.

The obsession with city driving at this point is strange, because it's just not viable without eliminating all human-driven vehicles (except perhaps bicycles). Perhaps even then...

The problem is what human would be responsible for a ''driverless'' 18-wheeler if something goes wrong? As per Fed regs, a tractor-trailer driver can only be behind the wheel IIRC 14 hours a day. Which has to be (written) logged, and the driver must be 'off' 10 hours minimum.
So the trucking company ''cheats'' by having the rig self drive while the human ''driver'' does paperwork or even gets the mandatory sleep time. Then something goes wrong, maybe a software failure, maybe a hardware failure, maybe something else random and an 18 wheeler with no human behind the wheel plows into a school bus full of kids returning from an away game.
Picture the firestorm that's going to cause, a media horror show, dozens of lawsuits to, let's see, the human ''driver'', the trucking company (about 95% of rigs are company owned with the driver being an employee), the vehicle builder, the company that did the self-driving equipment, the software developers, or all of them. Or even worse, distraught parent(s) deciding that the only compensation for their dead kid is ''an eye for an eye''.
I can come up with many other nightmare scenarios of a ''self-driving'' vehicle ''in the wild''.
And I haven't even touched on the possibility of a vehicle being hacked with malware.
Who's responsible if a hacked vehicle kills innocents?

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 25, 2017 11:14 PM  


Who's responsible if a hacked vehicle kills innocents?


Ru55hun Hakerz! Who else?

Blogger Ken Prescott March 25, 2017 11:23 PM  

Mr. Rational wrote:map wrote:The problem is, this algo will be standardized across every vehicle. Every car using these algos will not only drive the same, they will default to the safest type of driver...an old woman. The end result is a massive increase in commute times.

The cars have millisecond responses and full communications in real time, so they "platoon" at speed.  They leave traffic lights almost bumper-to-bumper, multiplying the number which pass through in a cycle.  Instead of racing to lights, they cruise at the speed which gets them there when the stopped traffic ahead gets started again... which they'll know to the millisecond because both the vehicles and the traffic lights are in real-time communication.

Self-driving cars will multiply the capacity of many roads.


Maximizing throughput on a given system means that you will not have slack to cope with suboptimal conditions--including, but not limited to, deliberate attacks on those systems that are running flat-out.

Anonymous CoolHand March 25, 2017 11:28 PM  

Francis Parker Yockey wrote:...Can we at least acknowledge that is overhyped? I don't need, or want, a touchscreen on every appliance. I don't want my refrigerator talking to whoever over the interwebz. I just want it to keep my food cold.

BTW, why so much hype for 3D printing, as compared to CNC machining, anyway? Never quite understood all the excitement over that.


Yes, so much yes. No appliance in my house is getting hooked up to the internet, full stop. I'll not have the coffeemaker tattling to DHS about my hobbies or how grumpy I am in the morning.

As a machinist, I have a bit of insight on the 3D printer thing that most tech writers never touch on (because they're journalists and therefor know nothing at all about anything).

Where 3D printing stands at this moment is thus:

Consumer Grade printers are all but useless for making anything (durable goods wise) but trinkets, baubles, and geehaws to glue onto your sweet Boba Fett cosplay getup.

The one thing they are useful for is making proof of concept assemblies and quick "pitch meeting" props for the suits to oooo and ahhh over.

There is some utility to them for making greensand casting patterns, but these will be limited to use for prototyping and/or short production runs (less than 300 units, say) because greensand that uses split patterns has to be rammed up by hand, which is much more labor intensive and time consuming than using a casting machine (which requires machined match plates to work from that are durable enough to be handled by the machine). Plus the plastic pattern just physically degrades faster than the traditional wood or the more modern machined alum or steel.

For straight up production of plastic "things", 3D printing is woefully slow. It might take an hour to print something that could be shot in half a second in an injection molding machine. Once you're making more than a few hundred of something it starts making sense to spend the time and money up front to make dies and injection mold the things. Plus, once you have the dies, ramping production rates up is a trivial thing VS 3D printing, where each one takes the same amount of time to print regardless of how many you need to make.

With injection molding the time per piece actually goes down as the lot size gets bigger because most of the time spent on them (until you start getting production into the hundreds of thousands if pieces) is spent in actually installing the dies in the machine and getting it making good parts.

So five thousand parts might have an average time per part of twenty seconds, but a run of twenty five thousand would only be three or four seconds per part (because it takes hours to set the machine up, and less than a second to shoot the mold each time).

Continued...

Anonymous CoolHand March 25, 2017 11:29 PM  

Industrial Grade Printers are another beast entirely.

They're still slow, but they can print in metals, which is something no consumer printer can do.

The metal printers are letting manufacturers do things they couldn't do before both design and process wise, but they won't be supplanting CNC machining centers any time soon, because they are extremely expensive and still very slow (it will take several days to print a bed's worth of parts on a metal printer), and the feed stocks currently available are exceedingly expensive as well (titanium, inconel, some stainlesses, other exotics), so the parts made have to be high value to justify the cost of making them.

Big industrial casters are actually skipping the pattern making process entirely for short run production castings and prototypes with a 3D printer that uses resin bonded sand to print the mold itself instead of the intermediate step of printing or machining the pattern.

But again, this process is fairly slow and can only be justified for the production of exceptionally high value castings or very large prototypes that might not be able to be made economically any other way.

The problem with futurists, IMO anyway, is that they're always predicting that the next big thing is going to sweep away current technology next Tuesday.

They never seem to grasp the idea that technology does not just show up and supplant the existing overnight, it takes decades of development by millions of people to become mature enough to be universally accepted.

Driverless cars are just one more in a long line of predicted "game changers" that people who have never made anything in their lives assume is just around the corner, if only the Luddites would stop holding up progress (by withholding massive gov't subsidies, natch).

The fact is that out here in BFE where I live, you're never going to talk people into either not having a truck at all or only having one that they themselves cannot pilot, because we don't "commute" from point A to B so much as move about the countryside randomly (as seen from the outside at least) doing this and that.

How do you program a self driving truck to take you over to that one supplement feeder under the big sycamore tree in the Jackson's second back field?

Those self-driving tractors and combines can only function in fields that have been extensively surveyed by GPS and terrain mapped, and they can only come and go from those fields by strictly programmed corridors that have been similarly surveyed and mapped.

Those machines are not smart enough to handle even simple terrain deviations currently, which is why you mostly see them being used up in Iowa and over in Kansas where the land is flat as a board in every direction for as far as you can see. That makes the problem a lot simpler to tackle.

Anonymous Luke March 25, 2017 11:59 PM  

Snidely:

I drove a (legal) taxi for a year, while waiting out the latest oil bust. (Been back on rigs looking at rocks since Sept. 2016.) I SAW lots of Ubercabs in operation, talked to more than a few of their drivers, as well as getting to be good friends with legal cab drivers with as many as 30 years experience in the business. I know a hell of a lot more than what ONE relative driving for Ubercab (who hasn't yet had to replace a transmission for which there's no dough for) or who's yet figured out that he's depreciated his vehicle into negative value (and spent thousands of hours of labor to do it).

Re ""Surge fares" are for events like ball games and concerts. 10,000 people want a ride at the same time. There's more demand, so the price goes up. Very simple market dynamics.

They're also illegal as hell. Virtually every municipality big enough to have any taxis has very specific regulations as to exactly what is the maximum charge per mile for taxis, which very much includes Ubercabs and "only gays and chicks can drive for us" (once you see the pink poufy mustache on front) Lyft cars.

It's only "sharing" if it's FREE. Involve a huge corporation, legal agreements, credit card payments, etc., and it's a paid ride, also called a TAXI (or shuttle, limo, etc., if under their very specific rules).

Blogger Cail Corishev March 26, 2017 12:23 AM  

Here locally in a town of 50,000, there's one small taxi company. A while back, before anyone had ever heard of Uber, a guy started a "free ride for donations" service. You could call him and he'd drive you home (usually from the bar) for free, and he'd take donations. Since he wasn't charging, he figured that got him around the taxi regulations.

The taxi company didn't agree, and they had connections in the city council, while the free-ride guy was an ex-con and not terribly well-liked, so the city decided that asking for donations was the same thing as charging, and shut him down for running an unlicensed taxi service.

Now we know he was doing it wrong: he should have gotten a pile of VC money and a web site and presented it as a Future Tech Service instead of a bare-bones charitable thing, and the bureaucrats would have been too impressed to object.

Anonymous Looking Glass March 26, 2017 12:39 AM  

@CoolHand

Know one engineer that talks about how 3D printing + CAD has made his job so much easier. You can print up 20-50 prototypes over a few days and save weeks of time on the design->prototype stage. Beyond that, 3D printing doesn't have a huge use, if ever, at the consumer level. You just don't need enough CAD project-based products on a regular basis.

The one place 3D printing will be massive is building in Space. That's the rub that's hyper important but of limited practical utility at the moment.

The only industrial-grade "disruptive" technologies that are actual game-changers are mass-scale Fusion Power (or doesn't leave waste Nuclear power) and mass-scale Desalinization. They tend to be tied together, given the energy needs, at current, for mass Desalination.

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey March 26, 2017 12:56 AM  

@CoolHand

Thanks. A very thorough review.

Anonymous CoolHand March 26, 2017 12:56 AM  

Looking Glass wrote:@CoolHand

...

The only industrial-grade "disruptive" technologies that are actual game-changers are mass-scale Fusion Power (or doesn't leave waste Nuclear power) and mass-scale Desalinization. They tend to be tied together, given the energy needs, at current, for mass Desalination.


Yup.

'Cause it their core, all engineering problems inevitably boil down to power, one way or another.

If/When we perfect "bottomless" cheap/free power, all bets are off as to what humans can do engineering wise.

Until then, we must figure the ROEI and abide by the laws of thermodynamics.

Alas...

Blogger Cail Corishev March 26, 2017 1:01 AM  

They tend to be tied together, given the energy needs, at current, for mass Desalination.

"We'd have enough salt to last forever!"

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey March 26, 2017 1:03 AM  

@Cail Corishev

"Now we know he was doing it wrong: he should have gotten a pile of VC money and a web site and presented it as a Future Tech Service instead of a bare-bones charitable thing, and the bureaucrats would have been too impressed to object."

I'd have to agree with that one. It always seemed like the key element of the Uber business model was their ability to evade taxi regulations. Whether that relies on the gee whiz factor of tech, or some more direct influence on the legal/ political system is another question.

Anonymous Mr. Rational March 26, 2017 1:19 AM  

tz wrote:How is the driverless truck going to put traction chains on and take them off?
Contract drivers who live near the passes and handle those passages.  They're home every night.

but somehow a train of smart trucks will be better?
Well, you tell me why literal trains of semi-trailers-on-rail-dollies haven't replaced cross-country semi-trucks, then.

What if the first truck hits something and causes a chain reaction with all the drafting trucks.
The first truck signals all the ones behind at much faster than travel speed, and they brake to avoid any wreck.  They may even shift in their lanes to avoid things like road debris.

What happens if snow covers the traffic lights or they are out?
Radio-linked traffic lights will be readable by robot trucks, snow or no snow.  If they're out, well... I've seen human drivers just blowing through them, when they're supposed to treat them as 4-way stops.  Robots could literally NOT be worse.

NeoNietzsche: wrote:I cannot believe an AI can somehow be programmed to have the delicacy to *feel* the skid and the adaptation needed to get the car BACK into control! (Not even with fuzzy logic!)
I would have said that, until my 2000's VW dealt so amazingly with some black ice I didn't even know was there.  The car has the ability to control all 4 brakes independently, and until you feel that in action you won't truly appreciate just how much more powerful it is than anything a human driver can do.

tz wrote:Then you need real software engineers. "someone will think of that" (security, blizzards, etc.)
Believe it or not, real auto companies TEST in simulated blizzards.  They test in International Falls in the winter, Death Valley in the summer, and the cut-it-with-a-knife humidity of Florida and Houston.  BT,DT,GTTS.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 26, 2017 1:21 AM  

Francis Parker Yockey wrote:I'd have to agree with that one. It always seemed like the key element of the Uber business model was their ability to evade taxi regulations.
Seems like the correct tack for taxi companies would be to reduce and remove regulations, so they could compete. But you'll never see that. Makes it too easy to others to compete.

As much as Mr Taxi driver up there likes to tout how taxi regs are absolutely necessary for passenger safety, people already consider Uber to be safer, as well as cleaner and more reliable.

Maybe there's a market for a software package that lets taxi companies do what Uber does (get the ride committed and the driver pay guaranteed before the pickup).
But rather than adjust to the changing expectation of the market, taxi operators will keep demanding that Uber provide the same substandard service they do.

Anonymous Luke March 26, 2017 1:26 AM  

Agreed re energy being the real limitation on most things. As one example, with near-unlimited energy, you could do things like boil granite, and fractionally distill out most metals.

Re the Ubercab scam again: when they don't get away with simply ignoring local regs on the taxis they operate, they just pay off or outlawyer (with all the VC funds they haven't burned through yet) the various gov't levels. All the tech does is make dodging highway cops easier when not yet at critical mass #s in a given jurisdiction.

Anonymous A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 26, 2017 1:51 AM  

@147 Mr Rational

Have you ever known any actual over the road truck drivers?

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 26, 2017 1:52 AM  

Agreed re energy being the real limitation on most things. As one example, with near-unlimited energy, you could do things like boil granite, and fractionally distill out most metals.

Just wait 20 years until fusion is practical and we'll do that.

Anonymous Luke March 26, 2017 2:01 AM  

Snidely, every objection you have was understood long ago.

Every crook thinks that he's discovered something by being crooked. Just ignoring regulations on having valid commercial insurance, fingerprint background checks, etc., as Ubercab does, is no advance. Rather, it's a regression. (Remember that more than 1 in 20 Ubercab drivers have either previous felony convictions or outstanding arrest warrants, not caught because Ubercab refuses fingerprint-based background checks as legal taxi drivers all get in 99% of U.S. jurisdictions.)

Unregulated taxis were tried long ago. When there is no oversight, the numbers zoom up to the point no one can be honest and make a living. It's a kind of Gresham's Law of transportation, where "the desperate drives out the good". Only crooks and incompetents with NO alternatives remain in such a system. It's routine for Ubercab passengers to later complain that their drivers (usually new to the biz, since they still have working vehicles they haven't driven into the ground with no $$ to repair yet) have NO clue where anything is in their locale. Oh, and there aren't inspections of Ubercab vehicles, either (the airport and local city inspected my cab at least annually, and could stop me to take a look.)

Ubercab doesn't even allow their drivers to charge enough for the damage and time out of service for puking passengers (common enough on bar nights that I carried a bucket in back, that got used most weekends, scrubbed out after use, of course.) to encourage sufficient cleanup.

Let's see, mostly green drivers, cop-dodging, who are largely unscreened for being convicts and pervs, with no real insurance, in puke-smelling cars that never get checked for safety and maintenance. Oh, THAT'S a real advance over legal taxis.


Two Dilbert comics that sum it up about Ubercabs:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c8/e9/e5/c8e9e50d9cfbba85d72a274cedf310de.jpg

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CcCoD3TWoAATsl2.png

Anonymous Mr. Rational March 26, 2017 2:10 AM  

@150 A long-time friend of mine became an OTR driver for a while.  There are also drivers who only take local jobs, like driving school buses.  A contract position to take trucks over certain mountain passes in inclement weather would be more like the latter.  What, specifically, did you want to say about such jobs?

A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents wrote:Just wait 20 years until fusion is practical and we'll do that.
Practical fusion has been 20 years away since roughly 1960.  It still is.

Anonymous Luke March 26, 2017 3:00 AM  

Exactly re fusion power. It's a real-life example of Zeno's Paradox. Fusion power is the energy source of the future -- and looks as if it always will be.

BTW, didn't the U.S. Fedgov cut its funding on fusion power research by 50% just a few years ago? Looks like Achilles is losing ground...

Anonymous Looking Glass March 26, 2017 3:28 AM  

Fusion is more of an engineering problem than an scientific one, but a stupidly expensive one. And, say someone works out a reactor design that'll work, who's going to put up the multiple billions for the test reactor and the entire support structure for it? We could leech out enough uranium from the ocean to power humanity for the next couple of thousands of years.

There's also the issue that the engineering being unfinished means we don't know exactly what is the best fuel source. If it only works with H3, we've got a little problem there, for instance.

Blogger Mountain Man March 26, 2017 10:02 AM  

For all of the spergs with armchair knowledge of trucking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyyS4I0VmRU

The real world is very messy.

Blogger liberranter March 26, 2017 10:58 AM  

commuting is a huge chore in north america. even if you live in a big city you can spend well over an hour packed in a subway full of people. If you drive, enjoy being stuck in traffic. Self-driving cars would put an end to all of it.

Your last sentence makes no sense at all. Even if SDCs became the norm, that would NOT solve the problem of traffic jams. These would still be as prevalent as ever. The only difference would be the fact that the cars involved in the jams would all be self-driving.

Blogger liberranter March 26, 2017 11:18 AM  

Regarding the ability to hijack cargoes by using the algorithms to force the truck to stop, it's likely that by the time we see a lot of self driving trucks on the road, this scenario will have been thought about among others.

Nope. As an IT Security professional whose work includes software code reviews, I can state that after 20 years in the business, and despite the ubiquity of security incidents involving programs operating insecure code, there is STILL no universally accepted or practiced set of standards for securing source code. The automotive industry, in fact, is the WORST offender here,even after 15-plus years of software becoming increasingly integral to vehicle operations.

TL;DR version: Security is always at best a distant afterthought, one that programmers pay no attention to unless forced to do so (and even then kicking and screaming). This issue wil be no different.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 26, 2017 11:47 AM  

Fusion is a pipe dream. Simply containing the reaction is so much of a headache that engineers are reduced to trying to count individual atoms.

Thorium, one of the more abundant metals in the Earth's crust, makes perfectly acceptable reactor fuel, and we already know how to make a safe thorium reactor. One was built at Oak Ridge in the 1960s. Thorium reactors were abandoned because they don't make easily extractable plutonium for nuclear warheads, unlike uranium reactors.

Forget fusion. We need to start building Thorium reactors today, not mythical fusion reactors in 20 years.

Blogger Roger G2 March 26, 2017 2:51 PM  

They're fascinated with the driverless cars because they never watched Maximum Overdrive back in the 80's.

Blogger flyingtiger March 26, 2017 11:58 PM  

There is some obsession for driver less cars. Why? The people pushing this project are wealthy. They can easily hire a driver.

Anonymous Noah Baudie March 28, 2017 11:56 PM  

Mr. Whiplash: just so. Something like 95% of the energy released in most hydrogen fusion reactions comes out as fast neutrons and ultra-hard X-rays. There are "a-neutronic fusion reactions" (all involving exotic isotopes like helium-3 or lithium-7, ultra-high energy collisions barely if at all achievable in the lab, or both) but they all still spit X-rays and gamma rays like a witch's curse, both as primary energy release and via bremsstrahlung resulting from energetic collisions between newly fused nuclei.

I've heard the claim that all fusion research by all governments worldwide has always had more to do with nuclear weapons design than heating homes in January. Nothing I see makes me doubt it.

As for self-driving cars, it's obvious that, in the interest of public safety, they (and their riders) will be tracked, monitored, and recorded by GPS in realtime 24/7/365 and this data will be made available to law enforcement at both local and federal levels in realtime 24/7/365. Furthermore, it is obvious that there will be built-in government kill switches, as well as remote controls operable by our always-benevolent government, for emergencies, and "for the children." ("We're sorry, citizen, but due to the threat posed by global warming, all travel in the tri-state area has been canceled for today. Oh, did you think you had a right to travel? Put on your walking shoes--and be ready to show your papers.") Clearly those who rule us have only our best interests at heart would never abuse this technology. Clearly.

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