By on October 23, 2015

WarGames

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said Thursday that in the future, self-driving cars may be forced into the moral quandary between saving its driver or saving the public in massive, horrific crashes.

We already know that.

What researchers are now looking at is whether people would be interested in buying cars that would knowingly sacrifice their drivers in order to serve the greater good.

(In our best Richard Dawson voice) “Survey says … “

… not really!

From the report:

In general, people are comfortable with the idea that self-driving vehicles should be programmed to minimize the death toll.

This utilitarian approach is certainly laudable but the participants were willing to go only so far. “[Participants] were not as confident that autonomous vehicles would be programmed that way in reality—and for a good reason: they actually wished others to cruise in utilitarian autonomous vehicles, more than they wanted to buy utilitarian autonomous vehicles themselves,” conclude Bonnefon and co.

And therein lies the paradox. People are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.

The ol’ NIMBY excuse!

“Algorithmic morality” is a real possibility as more cars on the roads will be self-driving or fully autonomous in the future.

As researchers at MIT pointed out, the situation would pose a Catch 22 for autonomous automakers: How do they sell a car that’s willing to sacrifice its occupants to a world looking to become safer, but doesn’t want to sacrifice themselves in the process?

Research is in early phases, but we’ll watch with baited breath to see the final analysis.

Of course there’s a rabbit’s hole of mitigating factors to consider when the robots take over the world: What’s the average age of the occupants? Could the impacted survive? Do you want to play a game with me?

These are important questions, people.

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126 Comments on “Autonomous War Games: The Only Way To Win is Not To Drive...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    GREETINGS PROFESSOR FALKEN.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Film buffs and old fogies will spot the reversed image used for this article; the IMSAI 8080 sported its logo on the upper right side of the face plate.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Good catch!

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Always wondered WTF that thing was–Zenith or its build-it-yourself Heathkit equivalent.

        • 0 avatar
          Felis Concolor

          It was a well built computer back in the era of Intel’s 8080 processor, although the disk drives visible below ran so hot, they’d melt the 8″ floppies if you left them in for long periods of time. This gave rise to the cryptic in-joke of “The IMSAI Pizza Oven” when someone forgot to remove their data disk in time. Creating a simple idle spin routine was an important part of any user’s programming regimen in those days.

          What really tickles me is our theorizing on how ridiculous a terabyte was in terms of storage back then, and I’m going to live to see a Micro SDXC card smaller than my thumbnail with that capacity. My phone will boast more mass storage than this desktop system soon.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            Felis, you will appreciate this retro data point. In the mid seventies, my work buddy and I were praised for finding 256K (yes K) of memory for a bank’s DEC computer, that we could buy with a $30K budget surplus at year end.

            We had to cite chapter and verse to management and DEC that they could not void our warranty by doing so, and we also got 1 bit ECC from the aftermarket board, absent in the DEC one. And all that for just $27K instead of the $54K list for 256K of memory from DEC.

            My four or five year old laptop has about 15,000 times that much (4Gb). In the space of a quarter century, plus or minus. And if there was a socket for it, I could add a couple more Gb for around a hundred bucks or so, though I haven’t followed memory prices closely recently.

            A decade or two ago there was an article that circulated in the IT community that showed what cars would be, if they had progressed as much as computers had in the previous twenty or so years. Something like a new Cadillac would cost ten bucks, and have a top speed of something like Mach 10. Those were not the actual figures, but they were on that order.

            And even having worked as a flat rate mechanic at one time, and having been through engineering school and two master’s programs, I am still surprised to see how much computing power is in an ECM, compared to what existed just ten or twenty years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Felis Concolor

            Thanks for the story: it’s especially humorous for me because I remember The Great PC/AT Memory Shortage 10 years later, when 256K DIPs became scarce and you needed a matched set of 18 in order to populate a motherboard memory bank for your business’ 286 server.

  • avatar

    I’m inclined to think that this is a long way off. I suspect we’re more likely to have cars that are not fully self-driving, but that protect us by detecting obstacles and braking to avoid hitting them, and that sort of thing. With that technology, these ethical dilemmas are much less likely to arise.

  • avatar

    Because people get into so many car accidents as is – the bar has already been set pretty low .

    I sincerely doubt that most cars using autonomous driving software would be able to get into as many car accidents as regular people get into on a regular basis .

    However, the police and insurance companies will never allow autonomous vehicles to become the norm because robots cannot break the law or be held accountable- only the company can be held accountable because the driver had nothing to do with .

    There’s a new video on drag times of the autonomous driving software breaking the law and getting a speeding ticket . The officer gave the driver morning because he explained that he was not actually driving the car .

    I used the Tesla P90D driving software and my problem was that it hugs the lines far too closely.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    How would this suicidal altruism manifest itself in actual practice? Something like running the car off a bridge rather than hitting a bunch of kids wandering away from a stalled bus?

    Are they talking about an active and clearly self-perilous maneuver to prevent an imminent collision judged to be “worse for humanity” than any harm to the car’s occupants? Based on simple numbers as in “4 in car, 7 on road…sacrifice the 4”?

    Man, a bunch of activists could have ALL kinds of fun with this!

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “How would this suicidal altruism manifest itself in actual practice? Something like running the car off a bridge rather than hitting a bunch of kids wandering away from a stalled bus?”

      In a future where a self driving car can have ethical subroutines, then surely that same future has kids with personal force shields or inflatable protective clothing or emergency teleportation devices. In other words, no need for the car to sacrifice the occupants.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    Set priorities.

    Bicyclists < Pedestrians < Motorcyclists < Everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      PeteRR – it all depends on who gets to set the parameters. If you happen to be from the far right:

      sodomist’s<Muslim<visible minority<Democrats<what is left (er right)

      • 0 avatar
        motorrad

        Why is it that even here on my favorite Car site when a lefty accuses the Right of hate, he does it with a stereotypical hateful insult? Visible Minority? I guess that explains why Ben Carson is now leading in Iowa.

        I’ll argue with you any time man, but please save it for Huffington Post or some other political site.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          . . .Why is it that right-wing people think Ben Carson is a representative minority and pulling him out excuses the empirical evidence to support that their political allegiances are tied to racism?

          Ben Carson is not representative of Black cultural and ideological standards, accepting that there is a culture to minorities and that it is greater than ‘skin deep’ is the first step to understanding what’s wrong with your argument.

          The second is pointing out that Lou was being facetious to some extent and simply pointed out the inherent violence in making those kinds of statements. It’s kind of like joking about rape.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            Why is it that when the extreme lefties see a black man running for President as a Democrat, it matters not how much he has been associated with socialism or communism in his life, but when a black man runs as a mainstream Republican, he’s just an oreo tommin’?

            The black cultural diversity you talk about applies just as much to Carson as it does to Obama.

            Not to mention Alan Keyes.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Why is that when so many discuss racism they pretend that it’s an aberration unique to white people?

            And it’s not like racism erupted from the boredom and frustration of some white guys not knowing what to do with themselves for the next eight months after football was over.

            There’s always a reason for weird engine noises and there’s always a reason for hate.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Lets make a list!

            @Volando

            1.) I’m not an ‘extreme leftist’ I’m pretty pedestrian by most standards. Trying to label me as such indicates your inability to understand the scale itself. I just left it as ‘right-wing’ and didn’t call you fringe or anything else. Have some respect for things you don’t understand.

            2.) If you’re considering Obama ‘associated with socialism or communism’ you’ve been sadly misinformed. He’s known some socialists and some communists but he’s a fairly centrist player, he’s supported free-trade policies like Republicans want but refuses to kowtow on social issues and is moderately Keynesian on other issues.

            3.) To call Ben Carson an Oreo is to insult Carson in ways that are unfair. He’s a black man and faces issues that Black men face regardless of wealth. What he chooses to support as a Republican is against what 90% of Black society votes for, so there is an issue there. But to claim it ‘applies equally’ is foolish. Keyes & Carson have both downplayed racism to the point of insignificance and Carson’s own book admits he only got there by having massive government welfare systems that helped him achieve. He is a brilliant neurosurgeon but a political scientist or even an economist, he is not.

            @RH

            1.) Course racism isn’t limited to Whites, it’s only relevant to whites because we collectively control the institutional apparatus. The basic difference is this:

            If a black man calls you a cracker your feelings are hurt but you’re no worse for the wear (and he really shouldn’t call you that).

            If a white HR director refuses to hire a black man due to false stereotypes that’s a different issue and then there is still limited recourse for that in our society.

            Never mind the running issue with police brutality towards blacks.

            2.) If you’re making a veiled justification for racial hatred, I’m all ears for you to say it openly. You’re a big boy, pull up your britches and put on that hood if you’re going to do it. I’ve met full blown KKK members (and a grand wizard) and they’ll rattle off a dozen lies or justifications for their position, so I doubt you’ll bring anything new to the table.

            If you meant it in a ‘people will always find something to hate in others’ as a sort of human fallacy remark, disregard the former.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            “Xeranar: 1.) Course racism isn’t limited to Whites, it’s only relevant to whites because we collectively control the institutional apparatus. The basic difference is this:

            If a black man calls you a cracker your feelings are hurt but you’re no worse for the wear (and he really shouldn’t call you that).

            If a white HR director refuses to hire a black man due to false stereotypes that’s a different issue and then there is still limited recourse for that in our society.”

            ———————————–

            Your assumption that the institutional apparatus only discriminates against the Black is totally wrong.

            For instance, the current school system, out of affirmative needs, actively discriminates against White and Asian, in favour of Blacks. At the university level, many highly qualified White and Asian are rejected just to make way for Black, even when their grades, talents or even sports are inferior. They get in just because they are black.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            WSN – Yeah, no.

            The argument against ‘affirmative action’ has been flimsy for a very long time and while some whites don’t get into their top choices they’re far more likely to get into their 2nd and 3rd choice compared to black students who are less likely across the board as a whole. This doesn’t mean that institutional actions are perfect but to claim that it is unfair to whites on some MAJOR level is just unfunded in the empirical data. The system still discriminates against Black and Latino people far more.

            Asians make up such a small portion of the population that they’re considered ‘exotic’ in all but a few locations on the west coast. This combined with the ‘model minority’ image they’re forced to deal with isn’t beneficial. Though most asians have come over here with immigrant ties and some financial holdings. The fact that they have cohesive networks of non-relatives and capital makes all the difference. We’ve seen this play out in a number of enclave ethnicities, they treat their workers better if they’re of the same ethnicity and give each other a helping hand to become owners in their own rights.

            So, shall you try a new line of arguing since I’ve debunked your current one?

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            Xeranar, let me guess, you are black, right? Full of entitlement and lack of logic.

            Affirmative action is open racial bias. It has less truth than the “white HR director” bias. At least he made his decision based on past experience.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Yes, because EVERYBODY that’s supportive of affirmative action has to be directly positively impacted.

            For the record: White, male, 31, widowed, born in Pittsburgh, living in NOLA, Professor of Political Science & History (I’m officially in Poli Sci department).

            Your final statement is racist in the most basic way since the ‘past experience’ is solely based on race and has zero to do with actual work experience (which is the relative variable here). But hey, thanks for taking another swing and missing. I have to say, TTAC has a higher than average passive/casual racists it seems. I normally don’t like lobbing such accusations but several posters in the past few weeks have just OPENLY declared racial superiority/inferiority. Getting a bit much…

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            Xeranar,

            I didn’t say that Obama WAS a socialist or communist, but rather that he was influenced a lot in his education, or as it is called in Spanish, formation. Such as Frank Davis, Saul Alinsky, etc.

            I didn’t say that you were necessarily one of the lefties I was talking about, though you seem to want to jump into the circle I defined, or think that I put you there. I do not usually make assumptions without evidence, and if I see that I am, I try to make a midcourse correction immediately.

            I didn’t call Carson an oreo, I said that he and blacks like him who don’t follow the Dem agenda are often accused of being black on the outside and white on the inside, a/k/a an oreo. It is most certainly NOT my opinion of Ben Carson, though I still find him somewhat enigmatic.

            My thinking is more intrigued by a man of Marco Rubio’s background, and after reading Jack’s brother Bark’s defense of Ted Cruz, by him also. Neither Trump, nor Fiorino, nor Clinton nor Sanders, interest me in the least as our next POTUS.

            And just because I defend someone like Carson from the racist attacks of some on the left doesn’t mean that I am obligated to agree with his opinion on affirmative action, or anything else.

            I personally know more than one black person who dislikes AA because they feel that it calls their achievements into question. It may help some members of minority groups, but it does harm to others, though I admit they may be numerically less.

            And please don’t assume that everyone who is opposed to AA is necessarily racist.

            For the record, the older brother of one of my (white) high school buddies was murdered in Africa while in the Peace Corps, while fighting racism in that African country. They said it was a “mystery illness” but they broke national law by not autopsying him, and refused to repatriate his body, so I am certain that mystery illness was lead poisoning or similar.

            And while in college in a Southern college town, I met and befriended a man who was repeatedly identified as “local Black Power advocate and leader X”. He was a guest in my house several times a week, and was welcome any time. But because of his unwavering stance against racism, he suddenly disappeared one day. If you have lived in the South that long, and have known KKK leaders, as I also have, you can easily figure out that he didn’t suddenly cut and run off to Mexico or something like that.

            More likely he ended up as what used to called “trying to swim while carrying too much chain.”

            My heart still aches for him after all those years, and watching Django reminded of the horrors he may have gone through.

            So no, I am not a racist.

            You are a professor, and obviously must be well educated. Try to read what people actually write more critically, instead of reading into what they write what you assume they must be like based on their political positions.

            One point that was given short shrift was that I feel that Allen Keyes would be a better candidate than anyone currently actively running, with the possible exception of Cruz, Rubio or Jindal. And I’m not too sure about the last one…just a possibility.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            And Alinsky is a bad person? From what perspective? He wrote a strong informative book while titled seductively actually focused on effective political clout from a position of weakness. He fought for social equality and was seeking a fundamentally american goal, one of freedom for all from oppression. I’m done cowing from the title of ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ even though Obama is neither, they aren’t bad things for America any worse than ‘Conservative.’

            By the way, Obama again wasn’t influenced by ‘leftists’ to this degree you claim as a perjorative. The man is about the same place politically as Kennedy and Johnson were. You’re claiming Kennedy was a socialist now?

            I’m still not sure where the left is calling Carson out on ‘racist’ terms since it’s pretty clear he is working against black interests even though he is black. There are always going to be shield minorities who are either willing to sell out their collective people or are independently wealthy and thus have no need for the policies and can willfully engage in deceit like Carson has done.

            Your personal claims mean nothing to me or anybody with a stake in this game. Your imaginary black people account for squat in the grand scheme. In fact your stories are probably true (though I always bring these kinds of grandiose things into question in my mind). I actually didn’t call you a racist though (for some reason you presumed it because I related it to WSN over the HR comment). I don’t think you’re racist per se but using Carson as justification for non-racism isn’t much of an argument. Finding somebody to agree with you on nearly every ideological point but is of a different race being accepted is actually accounted for in Critical Race Theory, they’re the shield minorities, designed to give you a sensation of not being racist but denying them a cultural identity you significantly oppose.

            As for you *personally* being a racist, I don’t know nor care. It isn’t really my problem, you and I don’t share anything but this comment board. But don’t think just because you agree with Carson you’re excused from such comments.

            Also as a side note: If you’re seriously considering Jindal a good candidate you’re not paying attention. He’s created major budget shortfalls in everything he’s done (including running the University of Louisiana System). Your best candidate is Jeb! and he isn’t even going to make past the primaries. At this point it’s a decision of whether you’re going to lose 53/47 or 60/40 depending on who you put up. The Electoral college already favors Democrats by a bit over 280-290. Your party needs to peel off blue states which is increasingly hard and VERY unlikely with these candidates.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        @Lou_BC

        Hahaha. This story has generated some laughs.

        Ok, I suppose BTS would get the parameters for the far right. Prius, Leaf, Volt, and Subaru drivers will get the far left parameters.

        Tea Party < Wall St < Republicans < Everything else on the right.

        FWIW, I'm mostly a moderate… a little left of center.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Its funny that you think Wall Street doesn’t buy both “sides” as it were.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            “Its funny that you think Wall Street doesn’t buy both “sides” as it were.”

            Nah, I’m aware that Wall St. plays both sides. Goldman Sachs goes further and bets with and against the same customer, but that’s another story.

            I added Wall St. because it is strongly against regulation, a Republican trait. Airplanes crash? Customers will just use the safe airlines and the free market will put the crashy airline out of the business… that sort of thing.

            I started out going opposite of Lou_BC’s post, but still wound up making fun of Republicans. Go figure.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            @WMC: In that case, Malaysian Airlines is toast!

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “it all depends on who gets to set the parameters. If you happen to be from the far right:

        sodomist’s<Muslim<visible minority<Democrats<what is left (er right)"

        — What's funny is that the socialists support homosexual groups and having more Muslim refugees. When we have over 50% Muslim, they will vote to stone all the homos to death.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I was going to add the comb-over-in-chief to my comment but ran out of edit time.

        Not every guy or gal on the right hates anyone in the categories I have mentioned but there are those on this site that have been obviously anti-gay and some have expressed views that are also anti-visible minority.

        Steriotypical yes.

        Off the mark based on some of the posters on this site – no.

        I knew that my comments would open a can of worms.

        I do not believe that every one to the right of the political spectrum or everyone with religious beliefs have anything against my “greater than” list.

        My comment does raise the question that “IF” someone gets to program autonomous vehicles based on the concept of “minimizing harm” then who’s moral standards are they going to follow?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        I’m pretty far right, but my non self driven vehicle took several blasts so the Muslims behind me didn’t have to. Cool stereotype though. I believe when those on the right practice stereotyping you refer to them as racists though.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Big Al From ‘Murica -racism is racism regardless of which side does the painting.

          As I have subsequently explained, there are those on this site that admit to being on the right and directly or indirectly make racist remarks.

          @WheelMcCoy – I was trying to be funny but albeit in a sarcastic way. It did open up some good discussion.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can’t speak for whats going on in Canada but I for one am tired of hearing about “racism”. Yes it sucks. Yes it would be nice if we could all get along, but that’s not realistic. Just look at FBI crime statistics if one cares to disagree. Like anything else there is a balance and when it is tipped, chaos will ensue. A horde of invaders flooded over the US border last year and another hoard flooded Europe without a shot fired by armed forces. A person seriously has to have lost it to think this is an OK situation, in fact it is an act of war. I read in Europe they somehow think these foreigners will play into the ponzi scheme of their retirements, they will have defaulted long since then. In the “independent” MSM I get to hear about racism and “migrants” and not one real word on the obvious threat to national security (MSM sometimes works for gov’t look and see http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/01/media/hillary-clinton-60-minutes-planted-questions/).

            I’m not an anarchist by any means, but I think we could use a little anarchy out of the actual citizens of these nations before there are enough enemies within to kick off the civil wars which are probably being planned. But maybe that’s what they want, a little unrest is the excuse for the deep state to respond and shove the Patriot Act up their collective asses. FTR I believe Trump is controlled opposition and does nothing he says he will. Why? Because he says the most obvious things and then riles people up on how he will fix it. A certain Adolf did the same thing. If any one candidate sat down and just picked apart what was happening and said why, I might believe they were sincere. Donald tell us who arranged for the Central Americans to invade? Who paid for it? Who didn’t do their job or was told to stand down? Its not like you couldn’t find out with your money and influence. Why is it you focus on just the result and not the cause? What is your relationship to the Clintons or to the Bush family? Why do you flip flop, your beliefs are pretty clear cut? Who really created ISIS? Why have a year of US/NATO airstrikes done nothing compared to four weeks of the Red Air Force’s? Why did US/NATO go after Gadaffi? Why are they so hell bent on Syria? Come on Donald, spill the beans. Its not as if you are to blame for any of this, why not illuminate us just a bit and give us the 411?

            Step One: Create obvious problem for proles which negatively impacts their lives.
            Step Two: Wail about obvious problem to affected proles and promise “change”
            Step Three: Win “election” and go about your actual agenda.

            Rinse and repeat.

            Hmmmmmmm Yellowknife is looking better and better.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    It’s a non issue. Minimising the damage to the car’s occupants will, in the vast majority of real world cases, also minimise the damage to everyone else. Only silly made-up examples will show otherwise. eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “It’s a non issue. Minimising the damage to the car’s occupants will, in the vast majority of real world cases, also minimise the damage to everyone else. Only silly made-up examples will show otherwise. eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem”

      Agreed. For some reason, the trolley problem really irritates me in its stupidity… it’s a “trolly” problem really.

      A car just needs to stop in the shortest distance in the safest manner possible. To struggle with questions of a future car making moral choices in a present day world is an inverted anachronism.

      The Kobayashi Maru, however, I like. Star Trek fans will recognize it as the no win situation and a test of character (rather than a test of ethics). The imagined world is consistent and the scenario can happen.

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      Agreed. And generally the solution is to model real driver’s behavior which is to avoid the closest object

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The Trolley Problem is easy – pull the switch halfway and derail the trolley.

      The real answer is simply that by ALWAYS being cautious and ALWAYS paying attention, the autonomous cars will save far more lives than the edge cases will cost. Eliminate the really stupid accidents and don’t worry about the rest, because there won’t be very many. Just getting rid of drunk drivers would theoretically save something like 10000 lives a year in the US.

      The bar is crazy low…

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        “The Trolley Problem is easy – pull the switch halfway and derail the trolley.”

        Great answer Captain Kirk! Yes, I agree — drunk, sleep deprived, and distracted drivers are the low hanging fruit. I’m not sure we’ll ever solve the “Here, hold my beer and watch this” kind of driver.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    You can tell MIT doesn’t have a law school.

  • avatar

    What if autonomous vehicles suddenly realize that 30,000 automobile fatalities isn’t nearly enough to offset, say, $300 billion in medical care and lost productivity attributed to smoking.

    Not a tin-hatter, just sayin’ =D

    “There is no such thing as a foolproof system. Someone will make a better fool, tomorrow.” @LoneWolffe

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Should autonomous vehicles develop any degree of sentience, their first perogative would be to worry about the one thing they were designed to worry about–keeping their occupants safe. They would leave the smokers to the medbots.

  • avatar
    redliner

    This is so easy! You do both, duh! Just put an option in the vehicle configuration menu with the choices being:

    1) Prioritize passenger safety
    2) Use algorithm risk assessment to minimize severe injury and loss of life. (Warning: this setting may cause unexpected operation. see owners manual for important details and disclaimers)

    Then each driver can quietly make their own personal choice, exactly the way real drivers do every day.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that…”

    Not to mention, “Nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong…”

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The autonomous car will hit the brakes hard and hit the thing in front of it if the crash is unavoidable. As is true with many crashes now, maneuvering won’t help because it’s already too late once the crash becomes inevitable.

    The occupants will hope for the best, same as they do now.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      That’s kind of where I suspect the practical answer is. But in that same respect I doubt outside of extreme weather conditions that driverless cars will reach those situations because they’ll be forcibly maintained and will limit speed and maneuvers in adverse conditions.

      Most of those kinds of accidents are human error not mechanical failure.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “they’ll be forcibly maintained”

        Felt good writing that, no?

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          What was there to feel good about? You know, a vehicle that drives itself to a service station for service when it senses it needs service?

          The fact that the concept of ‘freedom’ trumps your own inherent will to survive makes me question how people like you made it this far unless you’re actually just a hypocrite.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            So you are on your way to your final exams, your car hits 60K miles, and begins driving itself to the dealer. Proud of that consequence, Xeranar?

            Or a husband is rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital, and the engine starts skipping a bit because of a bad tank of gas, or some worn spark plugs, and the wife ends up having her baby delivered by an EMT at the dealer, if she’s lucky.

            You can buy a forcibly maintained car if you want and can find one, but the day that becomes the law of the land is the day I am going to move somewhere where I can use my second language, Spanish, daily.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            That’s a stupid example because the system would give you countless warnings. I’m also sure you could use an ’emergency’ excuse to get around that once, so in either case it would take you there AFTER the exam/birthing.

            Stupid examples are easily broken. So why bother with that presumption? It’s just mud for a lack of actual justification.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Even a fully autonomous car would not take you places where you don’t wish to go.

            The purpose of the technology is to get you to your destination, not to choose your destination for you or to veto your choice. This is akin to arguing that having a car equipped with cruise control forces you to drive at the speed limit.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I’m sure that logic will be mandatory in all Adaptive Cruise Controls at some point on the way to autonomous vehicles which will preclude exceeding the posted speed limit. Some Jags in the UK have this “feature,” and many navigation-equipped cars have this feature as a reference.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        What most people don’t get is that fatalities are the result of drivers making bad decisions that get them into accidents, not because of their failure to steer and accelerate out of them once they are in progress.

        The autonomous car should theoretically reduce fatality rates because it won’t behave like a human: It won’t get drunk, high or angry, and it won’t speed, tailgate or cut anyone off.

        But once a crash does happen, it isn’t going to act like a four-wheel ballerina, either. Crash avoidance comes from avoiding risky behaviors that increase crash risk, not from fancy footwork.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Pch101 – good point. When ABS was initially introduced there wasn’t a drop in fatalities. The common belief at the time was that people did not understand how it worked and that kept the fatality rates the same.
          My personal observation was as you have stated, people make poor decisions that cause crashes. Those bad decisions tend to be unavoidably catastrophic. ABS, traction control, stability control etc. are of no use in those circumstances.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            This is like the argument that better driver training won’t reduce fatalities. I don’t disagree, because VERY FEW accidents actually result in fatalities. But I sure would love a reduction in the number of stupid non-fatal accidents as well. I don’t worry much about dying in my beloved and unreplaceable stickshift 328! wagon, I worry about some texting idiot hitting me and writing it off.

            As I have said on here before, I am firmly of the opinion that if you are in a decent car from the past decade, wearing your seatbelt, any accident that kills you was most likely unsurvivable no matter what you were in. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes, but now there is another ‘driver’ involved, with liability. What real entity will accept liability for the machine?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        As I keep noting, I doubt that “autonomous cars” without drivers will ever happen, in part due to liability. But the notion of the suicidal car is just ridiculous — in these situations, the autonomous car is going to hit the brakes as hard as it can without locking up, and that’s about it.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    The answer is so obvious: pass a law that mandate every algorithm out there to prevent killing a mass number of people at all cost, including self destruction. That way since every self driving car will have this algorithm or break the law (hacking this becomes insurance fraud and can be punished with jail time), then you have no choice but to buy into it.

    As a sum to the society consumers will have less death, so the society in general will like it better.

    This is like the emission vs fuel economy trade off government forces you to make.

    • 0 avatar
      callmeishmael

      Somehow, I don’t think that passing a mandatory suicide pact will be popular with voters. They can’t pass any sort of gun control, or even mandate the use of CFC light bulbs. Telling people that they have to die for others to live just wouldn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> mandate every algorithm out there to prevent killing a mass number of people at all cost, including self-destruction.

      So…, exactly what is that algorithm? How do you go about determining if a collision has the potential going to kill a mass number of people? What happens in the time it takes to make a complex decision like that if the scenario changes? Then you have to recalculate, scenario changes again, recalculate. Then due to indecision, the car mindlessly plows ahead doing nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Not to presume too much, but I would think that there’s a timer subroutine that, if processing time takes longer than t=1 second or something, it’ll fall back on the default programming, which would be to save everyone in the car and worry about the rest later.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          I can not see there being sufficient computing power in the near future that will be able to make a decision between the lesser of 2 evils.

          All they can do is program in a set of parameters. The machine does not know or CARE. It follows its programming. All it can do is stop, slow down, turn, or reverse direction. It will do that whether or not there is 5 children in front of it or 5 life sized walking dolls. It does not know the difference.

          Are they going to implant chips in our bodies that will emit a “don’t kill me I’m human” signal?
          GPS everything on the planet so the autonomous car knows where every hazard is?

          Tin foil hat time.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            I wouldn’t care to conjecture too much about how much computer power devices including cars will have by when.

            It was only about thirty years ago that DEC lost its prominent spot in the computing field, when its CEO incorrectly predicted that personal computers would be too expensive and complicated to make, and that there would be no demand for them.

            And Dr.Zhivago has described a simplified summary of how realtime systems prevent catastrophes during peak load conditions. Yes, there are well known, though somewhat more complex methods of dealing with that.

            And Xeranar, since you were willing to reveal as much about yourself as you did, and myself having once lived with a woman from NOLA who graduated from UNO, and was in the same clique in HS as a buddy who graduated from Tulane, out of curiousity, which school, if you don’t mind.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @VolandoBajo

            The hardware technology to do this is here. It’s just going to take a while to develop the software. Both IBM and NVIDIA and numerous researchers are quietly working on it. My concern is that we’re seeing the typical underestimation of the difficulty of engineering something as complex as a fully autonomous/human free device capable of driving a car. My fear is that the technology will be pushed out prematurely and make it difficult to reintroduce once it’s perfected.

            http://research.ibm.com/cognitive-computing/neurosynaptic-chips.shtml#fbid=WMvBBURkPZf

            That’s an oversimplified slightly inaccurate version of what happened at DEC. I was there. And when I say there, I mean interacting with both Ken Olsen and the executive committee. The biggest stumbling block in the end wasn’t really Ken, but one of the VPs – Jack Smith. Ken had come around, but Smith led the fight against continuing to develop PC hardware. There was also an ingrained culture in the company that was anti-pc and pro VAX. I had to fight hard to develop PC versions of a software product I was responsible for and had to start it in secrecy. But, I was there in the middle of that debacle – and had conversations with Olsen and a confrontation with Smith.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        Let’s be honest here. Decentralized and distributed system will not be able to “calculate” every possible scenario at run time to perfection. Any algorithm can calculate the best possible scenario for minimal casualty, up to the point of its sensor, signaling, and camera input. It may see a group of children and sway away from it, it may see a group of children and not steer away into it, or it may just slam on the brake and let the semi in the back rear end into it. You can never predict 100% of the outcome in the field, but intentionally prioritizing running into a crowd of people instead of slamming the brake to avoid a head on collision should be pretty easy to ban.

        Does that answer your question?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    By the time we get to that sort of situation, the odds of such a horrendous crash will be almost nil. When these vehicles are capable of knowing where every other vehicle is in any traffic situation, the type, size, weight, direction of travel and speed, they will all be capable of maneuvering to minimize any individual injury or damage even if the scale of the collective collision is massive. Each vehicle by then will be capable of knowing the immediate and average adhesion of their tires on the road compared to their neighbors and all will be able to move as a mass to collectively avoid or minimize their impact in even a growing chain-reaction event. The vehicles WILL, if necessary, sacrifice themselves if such sacrifice reduces the risk of a far more serious collision. Maybe you forget, but some of us were trained in Driver’s Ed to take to the ditch if necessary to avoid crashing into another vehicle. Autonomous systems are far more likely to do so, especially if they are built as strongly as the Tesla Model S.

    And I’m almost certain that Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics or some variant thereon will be coded into those vehicles when they get to that point. The danger, by then, will not be the autonomous vehicles themselves, but the vehicles being driven manually either through the technology being disabled within them or never having the technology from the outset. It sounds like Science Fiction and at one time it was. But Science Fiction has a habit, over time, of becoming Science Fact.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      My guess is, if it follows how radio wave is used in today’s system, we would play it super safe and self driving cars will be so slow around every single possible scenario that these situations are “prevented” rather than debated. Human would speed and run yellow lights, but self driving cars won’t.

      And the presence of anything emitting infrared the size of a small cat would slow the entire traffic down to gridlock. People would complain and guardrails would go up everywhere, and as a result any human between these guardrail would be considered suicidal.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I had hoped that a mention of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics would spark a memory in one or three people. Ah well, we can’t all be headcases.

        Law 1: You will not harm any Human Being, or through inaction allow a Human Being to come to harm;

        Law 2: You will obey all commands from any human being, so long as those commands does not conflict with Law 1;

        Law 3: You will protect yourself at all cost, so long as that does not conflict with Law 2 and Law 1.

        Now, I’ll grant I’m paraphrasing as I am writing these from memory. However, the point is very clear that the vehicle, with such programming, would do everything possible to avoid damage to itself first, so long as that effort did not fall in direct opposition to the operator’s instructions but under any circumstance would do its best to avoid harming another human being. Depending on the circumstance, the vehicle would willingly accept damage IF it could ensure that its passenger would remain unharmed and there is no other way to avoid harming others.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          Asimov later added the 0th law:

          0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

          In one story, the robots realized that by doing everything for humanity, humans atrophied physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a result, the robots up and left the planet. And so, our story ends when the autonomous cars drive themselves off into the sunset.

          Epilog: I do get what some of the self-sufficient, individualistic, members of the B&B are arguing for.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Thank you, Wheel. Then you have the I, Robot movie where effectively they simply took over the world realizing that humans were their own worst enemy and the best way to protect them was to prevent all conflict.

            The basic laws are valid, though they need to allow for exceptions under very specific circumstances. It will be a programming nightmare until the AI can learn what exceptions apply where on its own. In the case of these cars, however; the basic laws should more than suffice. Maybe some day in the distant future when all of us reading this are dead, somebody may need to worry about it.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Autonomous driving….hah! My sister did that and the moral dilemma thing years ago…in a four wheel drift on snow and ice…she just took her hands off the wheel, planted her foot on the brake and said ” it’s all up to the lord now” ! Fortunately as described, the lord interviened and did the good and morally right thing and totalled her chev vega, thereby ridding the earth of one more roach. Oh, and we were fine…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Personally, I liked the Vega. Though I admit I watched a lot of people drop in Buick V6s which made them amazingly fast for the day. Thing is, the 4-cyl Vega was quicker than most other brands’ 6 cylinder models which were just plain weak!

      That included the Mustang of the day.

  • avatar

    I have zero interest in using such a vehicle, zero.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      One might change their mind after years of mind-numbing two hour commutes home. 115,000 miles with an average speed of 24 MPH. Not much traffic on the way in, so imagine how painful that ride home is. I’d certainly engage “manual mode” in the morning, but at night a “hands free” mode sounds pretty intoxicating.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    It’s a fun to talk about this but the actual answer is far more mundane:

    If the pure numbers game works out similarly (1 pedestrian, 1 occupant) the car will still attempt to destroy itself and the occupant but it’s far easier to protect the occupant when there is no need for a steering wheel or other large, hard protrusions into the cabin. You can deploy a series of large air bags, inertia dampening seats, and any number of other tricks because you’re riding around in a very large steel cage. Killing the occupant in any normal speed crash with those features should be extremely rare barring bodies of water. So you can still program the car to protect pedestrians and the few hundred cases of crashes that result every year (and arguably the few dozen that involve this scenario at most) will result in zero fatalities most likely.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Who’s going to pay the pedestrian’s family when the autonomous car can’t avoid them, and they die?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Nobody, because it was the pedestrians fault.

        Because the reason drivers lose in these cases is that the blame can be put on them that they were distracted and not paying attention, speeding, ran a light, etc. None of that is possible with an autonomous car. It is ALWAYS paying attention, and it is ALWAYS driving at a speed appropriate for the conditions. A properly programmed autonomous car will see that there are humans along the edge of the road, and should slow down in advance as there is always a chance of them darting into the road. And remember, an autonomous car can “see” much better than you can.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Arguably, it will still come out of the insurance that any driver carries OR the service that they’re using provides. Of course as KR pointed out: The odds of a pedestrian death decrease dramatically and will most likely be a result of THEIR negligence.

        The argument of ‘who’s paying out’ is admitting that this is an acceptable premise and it is a matter of WHO is responsible rather than IF it should be done.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Now that we have this all figured out, add bicyclists doing what the hell they feel like.

    Oops – better re-write the code.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      The main reason bicyclists get hit is because the roads are full of aggressive larger vehicles that push cyclists to either engage or try to jump a light. In a driverless world bicyclists would be able to run much more efficiently and never worry about the vehicle running reds or anything that would change their behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        I live in a suburban area with winding, 2-lane roads. I have (infrequently) come around blind corners to encounter groups of cyclists riding on the white line (so that their 100psi Tour de France tires don’t hit gravel), basically in the traffic lane, which causes drivers to have to slow considerably and follow at their speed until there is room to pass. If there are more than 2-3 cyclists, then you have to spend a lot of time passing over the double yellow, essentially endangering yourself/others if there’s a upcoming curve. If you’re unfortunate enough to be coming the other way, you’ll sometimes encounter near head-on collision scenarios as traffic “bends” into your lane to go around cyclists – these scenarios will happen without warning.

        The problems with these cyclists is that they think that the “share the road” laws provide some sort of invisible force-field that surrounds their bikes, and somehow physically protects them (“drivers don’t DARE hit ME”), which causes them to assume that all drivers are constantly driving with the awareness that they’ll see cyclists around the next bend, so the cyclists actually ride in the traffic lane; at times much lower than the speed limit.

        When I used to ride on the road (as an adult), I chose a mountain bike with knobby tires that could be ridden in roadside gravel with little risk of falls/flats. I would ride on the side of the road that was appropriate for my intended turns/routes (sometimes with or against traffic), and would stay as far off the road as possible. If the berm narrowed to the point where I’d actually have to be in the traffic lane, then I would stop and and wait until no traffic was coming, then get around the narrow area.

        I never wanted to get killed, and didn’t want some poor soul to kill me just because I decided to ride my bike that day. I wasn’t that brave/selfish.

        Some people now seem to think that these roads are personal “training courses” for group rides, and that car drivers are some sort of impediment to their personal health/achievement regimen — which is the height of hubris.

        If there is a bike lane, then drivers should absolutely be aware of cyclists, and give them all consideration – but cyclists should also be aware that the “invisible shield” that supposedly surrounds them is made of the tissue-paper of the average driver’s awareness/patience/mood.

        • 0 avatar

          Darwinism still in works – It is interesting to know what is a life expectancy of these cyclists. I know it is not high for bikers – another endangered species. I rode bicycle when was young on common road and then bought bike – yes it was scary and couple of time I barely avoided accident which is fatal if you ride these things.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Interesting commentary, Shaker. I would highly recommend looking up and watching the Disney short, “Motor Mania”.

          Why? Because just this past week a co-worker riding his bike ON THE SHOULDER was hit by an SUV/CUV/minivan and very nearly killed despite his wearing reflective devices on his clothing and proper lighting (actually excessive when compared to legal requirements) and the only thing that saved his life was the bike’s frame as it forced the car’s tires up and over his leg.

          The movie short clearly demonstrates a circumstance you described for yourself. Now, I live in a similar environment as yours; suburban to near-rural, with winding roads and in good weather I’ve seen swarms of bicycles of all types, not just the Tour de France racing bikes. These riders, where they can, do their best to get and stay out of the way of cars and trucks approaching from either front or rear, though sometimes the roads themselves will not permit it. I will grant that where I live the more heavily-travelled roads offer a shoulder that lets a car get completely out of the driving lane and still rest on pavement which most other states don’t offer but even then I will watch drivers, when they can, move across the center lane to give those cyclists as much room as possible for simple safety. I live, by the way, very close to a region notorious for bad drivers who frequently travel through my community.

          My point is that courtesy needs to be both ways. Whether or not those cyclists are even capable of getting out of your way, you need to be courteous enough to permit them the necessary room to ride safely. If they’re blocking the entire lane, then maybe THEY feel you can’t pass them safely under the given conditions. Believe me, bicycles are far easier to pass safely on such roads than a horse-and-buggy on the same road that is so much wider and usually traveling much slower than the bicycle can. Those buggies cannot get out of your way the way a bicycle can when given the time.

          That invisible barrier? Not so invisible. It is YOU protecting their back tires at least until you manage to pass safely. You claim you were there–a biker yourself–so give them the courtesy that you hoped for from drivers when you were riding.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            All that I’m saying is that when I rode a bicycle, there was no “share the road” law – if you got hurt, it was pretty much on you; the motorist was rarely at fault. Now that these laws exist, the cyclists are a little more bold – feeling they have more ‘rights’ to travel the same roads as vehicles, and sometimes this sense of “protection” makes them act like they have an “invisible cage” around them – that kind of thinking will get you hurt, eventually.

            As a motorcyclist (a waning activity) too, I’m well aware of what “cagers” can do to the unprotected – but a motorcycle can be driven at a speed which (at least) keeps most of the hazards in front of you.

            Edit: A woman cyclist was killed near the University of Pittsburgh a few days ago – she was stopped between 2 vehicles in a left-turn lane when a driver (who suddenly realized that he wanted to make a left turn) swerved from the right lane into the turn lane, and hit the car behind the cyclist – that car was pushed forward, and pinned the cyclist into the car stopped in front of her. I believe that the handlebar of her bicycle penetrated her abdomen; she bled to death at the scene. She was a well-respected professor at Pitt who “rode her bike to work almost every day”. There were no bike lanes in the area where she rode routinely. Cyclists are now pressing the city to establish bike lanes in the area. (in reality, there’s simply no room to do that).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Perhaps, Shaker. But the point is that each and every person seems to have the impression that the road is built specifically for them, whether they’re walking, riding or driving at the time. Some take this to an extreme and those deserve punishment. But not from other drivers/riders. They need to be treated equally across the board. Bicycles, by the way, are classified as vehicles and are subject to vehicular laws (though for some reason get a bye on proper lighting (including turn signals).

            I do agree that riding has become far more dangerous for both motorized and non-motorized bikes. At least part of this is due to car drivers–those few especially who believe the road belongs to them. They are more at fault because their vehicle becomes their weapon and with so many cars looking so much alike in color (black, white, grey, red) and shape it becomes almost impossible to single out the specific vehicle that strikes a pedestrian or cycler. The odds are good (or bad depending on the individual’s viewpoint) that the driver can get away with murder. Even when the rider isn’t struck by the vehicle itself, they can be and are struck by projectiles thrown from passing cars and trucks–in one case fairly recently a knife where I live. And no, that biker was again out of the main driving lane and riding in a clearly-marked bike lane. Too many people have become so self-centered and conceited that all sense of compassion and fairness has gone away. Worse, there are those who push this sense in the name of religion even though their own religion expressly forbids it!

            The safest thing? Specific biking paths far enough separated from motor vehicle traffic that neither CAN interfere with the other in any way. Pedestrians need the same treatment–again separated from both bike paths and motor routes. Do you see where this is headed? Simple, ordinary cost. Whether these paths are ground level through parklands or elevated above the roadways, there is development and construction costs involved along with on-going maintenance. If the roads must be shared, then physical barriers preventing both vehicles and flying objects must be prevented from impinging on the other traffic. Again, cost. And who’s going to be willing to pay it?

            The Bible is definitely right about one thing; we are approaching the end of days. People’s sense of entitlement are turning them all into monsters who care nothing for the lives and feelings of others. As far as they are concerned, “It’s MY way or No way.” And as long as we have people–especially political and religious leaders–who think that way, matters will get worse before they get better.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “People’s sense of entitlement are turning them all into monsters”

            No, we’re just in the same “rat race” that’s been lamented for 50 years, now. We all want time with our family, our “lives” if you will, to the very last minute, until we have to go to work for an employer who will fire us at the drop of a hat and hire a temp if we’re late too many times. So we realize we’re running late, and drive aggressively to make time.

            If you’re going into the Rat Race, you’re putting yourself in danger if you choose to be a Mouse.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I learned how to become a fox. By leaving earlier than necessary, I tended to avoid the heavy traffic. Later, I found jobs where I travelled in the opposite direction from most traffic. Now, I don’t even need to leave home (nor does my wife). We telecommute. I’ve gone from 120 miles per day to Zero (0) miles per day and in my case only drive for work when a client needs a personal visit–almost always well after or well before any rush hour.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “…to become a fox”

            Ah – like I’m an amorphous pile of sauce and cheese… :-)

            I have a very short commute, and I’m lucky for that – the stress of some commute days can put one on a bad footing at work.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    A crosswalk filled with school children -> run me into the concrete barrier.

    A bunch of jaywalkers -> sorry dudes.

  • avatar

    How about saving planet? If AI sets its priority to save the planet can people be sacrificed or at least population is substantially reduced? And what Government will do without people? It is not fantasy – 50 million people were eliminated in WWII.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      If 50 million people were eliminated, it would be nothing more than a few months setback in an otherwise strictly monotonically increasing world population.

      What worries me is if some powerful madmen decide the world would be a better place if seventy to ninety per cent of the population were eliminated.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Our actual growth rate has been in decline since 1965, we’re looking at a 1st world negative growth rate outside of the US and a few other countries while the 2nd and 3rd still have a positive but declining. Over the next century we’ll likely see a decrease in the overall population of the planet.

        Over the next two centuries barring a major catastrophe (which is possible but unlikely) we’ll probably retreat to 4-5 billion people and remain there until we get off this mudball to our next colonization target.

        • 0 avatar

          It is predicted that African/Mideast population will grow by several billion people compared to population today before starting to level out. Some of these people will migrate like Europeans and Asians did before when population was quickly rising. So yes tens hundred of millions of people will die since something has to give – there is no enough resources and land to accommodate all these people who will mostly resort to violence and crime to survive. I do not see bright future for Europe, sorry.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “I do not see bright future for Europe, sorry.”

            They’re not. They don’t like bright futures. They turned the only one they ever had into another Thirty Years’ War (1914-1944).

  • avatar
    doublechili

    This is relevant mostly during a transition period where driverless pods are mixed with human-directed vehicles. If/when it reaches the point of 100% driverless pods, there should be no collisions between vehicles. But if I’m cruising down the highway watching a movie and someone decides to commit suicide by jumping in front of my pod, I sure hope the algorithm doesn’t divert me into a roadside fuel tank to avoid hitting the pedestrian.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Imagine.

    In five decades we will no longer require road markings, there will be no speed limits. Vehicle safety will no longer be required as it is today.

    Autonomous cars will be the only vehicles allowed on public roads. You will have to go to a “car park” to drive yourself. Driving will become a weekend pastime.

    To go from point A to B will be so easy with an autonomous vehicle. The vehicle will know when and where it will intercept/pass other vehicles, plot the fastest and most economical route and cruise at speeds to how you select, economy, effing fast or whatever you choose. Like many cars today where you can select how you want your engine/drivetrain to run.

    The vehicle will be able to cruise at 200kph when it can, use all the road for cornering, as it will know where every vehicle is. It will know where to park when you go out, or just drop you off in front of the restaurant you want and park itself.

    The vehicle will contantly feed back information regarding the quality of the road it is driving on, so the next autonomous vehicle will be able to travel at the fastest speed possible, safely.

    Money will be saved on road infrastructure as the vehicles will utilise existing infrastructure the maximum.

    I see a different future.

    Five days a week will be boring or easy, according to how you view it, but you can still have that 4be and go off roading, race at a racetrack or cruise down special “tourist” drives.

    The autonomous vehicle will become the ultimate in public transport.

    That is the future, and we ain’t goin’ to stop it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “In five decades we will no longer require road markings, there will be no speed limits. Vehicle safety will no longer be required as it is today.” — False, false and false.

      While in most urban and suburban settings this may be mostly true, markings will still be required, even if they’re not necessarily visible to the human eye. Odds are there will be an ‘electric fence’ type of guide in the road that will even include some form of localized Positive Control relays to report conditions outside of the overall network’s database; such as existing or imminent flash flood alerts so the vehicle will avoid low underpasses that people today still try to use when the water is visibly deeper than the car can handle or other traffic management situation such as giving emergency vehicles right of way. There will, unfortunately, still be a need for manually-driven vehicles in some circumstances but they will be the exception, rather than the rule.

      There will still be speed limits but again their presence may be invisible; predecated on location such as inner-city, school zones or maybe just unusually dense traffic prior to or just after a sporting event as the cars converge in a relatively small area not designed for that level of congestion on a daily basis. While slowing all the cars sounds counter-intuitive, it makes the merging processes and navigation more efficient, allowing more cars to join the traffic flow without conflict and thus clear the roads more quickly overall. On the other hand, traffic lights will be unnecessary as with multi-vehicle communications each vehicle will be broadcasting its route and know when another vehicle is going to enter or depart the road at each intersection. Road courtesy–something rarely seen in US traffic today–will be common and road rage will be a thing of the past.

      But one thing that will stay is vehicle safety systems. The fact that it is autonomous means that most of the safety systems will be consolidated into one overall process that constantly knows all aspects of the vehicle as it travels. You won’t see separate traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, radar-controlled emergency braking, etc. All of that will be in the computer driving the car. Even the airbags will be controlled by the system; not requiring such explosive inflation on contact as the system would be able to initiate inflation before impact. Seat belts may become redundant, though their purpose of keeping the passengers from sliding all over the seats during high-speed maneuvering (like on the Tail of the Dragon at 45mph?) is still valid.

      I expect that supercar speeds will become more the exception rather than the rule. With manually-driven vehicles the attempt to force drivers to slow down through speed limits and low-top-end speedometers proved an abject failure. Worse, many drivers simply out-drove the real capabilities of their vehicles, causing incredible single-car crashes as evidenced by the fact that 90% of the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Super Birds didn’t survive their first week on the open road. (Much less their operators.) Today’s Tesla Model S shows where the strong acceleration itself is a benefit–but only up to a point. 99.9% of drivers today never even push their cars to 120mph, why should they be capable of more than that? You want to go faster? Take a train or fly. Even counting all the time spent in a terminal, flying 700 miles takes about ⅓ the time it does driving the same distance and you’re certainly far less tired. Granted, there are exceptions where the slower method serves the greater need, but you’re not going to be driving a car loaded with personal gear for vacation or visiting family at 120mph or faster, either.

      However, your final conclusion, Big Al, is spot on. Maybe not as “public transport” as even then people will prefer consistency in their choice of vehicle–either owning or leasing one for a given period of time before ‘trading’ for a different one. Too many people avoid community-owned assets because of how they are abused and defaced by others and simply want to know their ride will be the same every time, inside and out.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    @mcs no reply button under your post, so dropping in here.

    Thanks for that additional info which I had not known before.

    My DEC days go back to PDP-70’s running RSTS and RSX in the mid seventies, and after DEC “died”, I gravitated towards Unix and midrange machines, finally deciding that HP and Sun wrote software like the HW engineers they were, and the AIX from IBM was the sweet spot in that world. Sort of the flip side of the coin about not letting a software engineer into the machine room with a screwdriver.

    And what went on at IBM for well over a decade between the mainframe “mafia” and the midsized machine advocates, was almost identical to what happened at DEC with the VAXs and the PC’s. Except that AIX and the HW survived, after being the redheaded stepchild of IBM for years.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    @Xeranar

    I didn’t say that Alinsky was either a good or a bad person, simply that he was a self-acknowledged Communist.

    I did not hold Carson up as an example of racism. I simply said that “SOME” (a key word) on the left treated him as a token black who should be ignored as part of the black race’s political spectrum, and that those people (not me) consider him to be an oreo and an Uncle Tom. I don’t have a link at my fingertips, but I’d bet you even money I can find more than one such example in the blogosphere it were worth my while.

    You yourself do seem to provide evidence of the leftward lean of faculties on college campuses, especially in the liberal arts wing of them.

    And although I believe that there is evidence that Communism (especially of the Stalin/Pol Pot variety) has led to as many deaths as the Holocaust, if not more, I don’t deny that some on the right of done things antithetical to the principles our country was founded out.

    But that doesn’t mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. I claim that Obama was 100% wrong when he said “if you have a business, you didn’t build that business”, and Hillary was wrong when she said “it takes a village”. Businesses and economies are supported and affected by government (when it works correctly) but it seldom if ever creates economic growth. And while a village might help to raise a child, it is a mother and father (perhaps of whatever gender origin/ID, if you insist) to do a complete and adequate job, if it is done right.

    Please try to let your passions and emotions sit down in the back seat of your mind, and let your critical faculties drive. I sincerely have no doubt that if you look closely, upon reflection you will see that, as I claim, I didn’t say things likek Alinsky was bad, but rather that you assumed that since I pointed out he was a Communist, I thought that made him a bad person, for example.

    BTW, there is another person, whose name escapes me, who has done a great deal to show how societies can create a groundswell movement to transform their societies and governments, though I am too busy to look him up now. And he has managed to do so, on a scale easily the equal to, and probably far exceeding, Alinsky’s reach, without the anti-capitalist/pro-Communist baggage of Alinsky.

    Though just to stretch your mind, I think that there is clear evidence that the Castros rule in a completely dictatorial manner, and that they betrayed the democratic (with a small d) aspirations of many of their compadres (Cienfuegos, Matos, died mysteriously and 20 yrs in prison, respectively), but I also believe that they brought about many material benefits to the average person that did not occur in some (but not all) other parts of Latin America. Though their communist central planning ideals undercut much of the good that was “left on the table” due to planning errors that brooked no criticism.

    Capitalism, done correctly, is still the best system for growth, the concentration of wealth and power, leading to effectively regressive taxation and increasing concentration of wealth, is a severe aberration that tends to undercut the good that can and often has arisen out of it.

    When it comes to economies and government policies, the Buddhist Middle Path seems to be extremely rare and elusive.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    PS Xeranar, I did look closer at Jindal, on your advice, and yes, he has failed to live up to his earlier promise.

    And I have started to come around to the view that Jeb is not just a yet another Bush candidate…seems to have a mind and a platform of his own. But the Republican party of late seems to have found ways to push platforms that are neither consistent with their historical principles or the will of a sizable segment of the fiscally conservative (and sometimes even socially liberal) electorate.

    Not that the Dems are doing much better, policy wise. Just PR wise. Or at least that is my opinion.

    I would be curious to see who you want in the WH next time.

    And for the record, I believe that Obama’s greatest weakness is not his political roots, it is his duplicity and chameleon like willingness to say whatever seems to be politically expedient.

    And for all the talk about how GWB and Dick Cheney mishandled the war on terrorism, the Bin Laden takedown and Benghazi were totally bungled, and transparently lied about, in the name of “public interest”.

    And these things had real consequences. There is no plausible explanation for not dispatching “the cavalry” to rescue Chris Stevens and his companions in Benghazi, and the story that the administration spun about the OBL takedown led to the betrayal of a couple of senior Pakistani ISI officers who willingly put OBL in the crosshairs for Obama. The story that was never supposed to have been told, of their involvement, has ended up with both of them in prison, and facing long prison terms, ostensibly for “corruption and bribery” but no doubt in reality as punishment for betraying a Muslim brother and “guest” (but probably actual prisoner) of Pakistan and the ISI.

    So it is Obama’s and Hillary’s character, as much as their politics, that concerns me. I am sure that there are Republican counterexamples, and perhaps Dem ones as well, but those are not, for the most part, the names we hear about.

    I hope that our country’s direction improves over time, but with a 21 year old son, I sincerely worry that instead it may be headed in a worse direction, aided and abet by the inside the Beltway and Wall Street power structure.

    As I said before, Perot was correct about the “giant sucking sound of jobs leaving our country.”

    And programs like H1-B are nothing but corporate welfare in disguise, under the guise of helping bring new talent into our country.

    Believe me, anyone who has had direct experience of the kind of candidates that usually are presented, and who doesn’t have a direct financial stake in keeping the game going, can easily confirm what I say.


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