By on January 16, 2017

traffic gridlock

A great philosopher once said that you can’t start a fire without a spark, followed by something about rhythmic movements in unlit spaces.

Well, if there’s a war brewing against autonomous technology and self-driving vehicles, the flashpoint might have occurred in New York — City and State — last week. A large trade group and labor union joined forces in denouncing the driverless scourge headed their way, with one of the groups angling for a 50-year-ban on the automotive heathens.

The Upstate Transportation Association, which represents private passenger transportation companies in the state, sees self-driving vehicles as an existential threat to its members’ livelihoods. It wants protection — ideally, five decades’ worth.

Just last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the green light to ride-sharing services operating outside of New York City. Those services, be it Lyft or Uber, will be regulated by the state, rather than local governments.  While both the UTA and Independent Drivers Guild, which represents for-hire drivers in NYC, are okay with ride-sharing, both are concerned about what that could bring.

Large ride-sharing companies just happen to be strong proponents of autonomous driving technology, and self-driving pilot projects are already springing up in cities like Pittsburgh and San Francisco. For some opponents, the companies are a Trojan Horse hiding hordes of robotic job killers. This, despite Uber promising the creation of 13,000 jobs in upstate New York.

“It doesn’t do anything for the local economy to have driverless cars,” UTA president John Tomassi told CNN. “I’m sure there’s a little bit of job creation, but nothing that will match the number of jobs lost.”

Cuomo hasn’t voiced a stance on self-driving vehicles, but the existing legislation “protecting” human-guided vehicles is full of holes. The IDG wants New York City to enforce state laws requiring the operator of a vehicle to keep one hand on the steering wheel. Still, because the law was crafted before autonomous technology, it might only apply to vehicles without self-driving capabilities.

The brewing war could fizzle overnight in the face of legal challenges from automakers and ride-sharing companies.

[Image: joiseyshowaa/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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62 Comments on “A War Against Self-Driving Cars Just Kicked Off in New York, But It Could Turn into Grenada...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    “the driverless scourge”

    You say scourge, I say panacea.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Seriously. One of my most hated activities is driving around rush hour NYC.

      I’ve had NYC cabbies who stared at their phones the entire drive; who had a laptop open in the passenger seat showing a movie; and another who refused to use GPS when lost. Bring on the AVs already!

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Absolutely. JonnieCab can’t get here soon enough. Taxis are by far the WORST offender for breaking random traffic and parking laws.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Love to see how a driverless Uber car will fair in NYC rush hour traffic with the well know cabbie cut off at every block, and watch the bike messages and the pot holes the size of a smart car.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, what do some car makers think. Take for instance Faraday Future’s new FF91, that measures 5.3 by 2.3 meters and weighs around 3 metric tons. Does FF really expect that behemoth to steer itself through dense city traffic without endangering other, less massive road users?

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        I predict that in heavy traffic (and especially with pedestrians and cyclists) these autonomous cars will be so “timid” that they won’t make any forward progress. In less congested areas they’ll probably work OK and only slow down the flow of traffic a little.

        One problem will be how they follow all traffic laws completely. Here you’d get honked at and then passed on a double-solid yellow for perfectly obeying all traffic laws… complete stop a stopsigns, never exceeding speed limit, slowing down to suggested speed on curves, waiting for crosswalk to completely clear of pedestrians, etc.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’d be more worried about the trucking industry (and warehousing), which is currently an absolutely massive employer, and one of the businesses that hasn’t cratered in the era of offshored manufacturing: all those Chinese/Mexican/etc goods need to be moved around. My next door neighbor is a trucker, and I have truckers in the family on my fiance’s side. There are also truckers on my family’s side in Russia, but no worries of autonomous stuff there LOL

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The last-leg delivery side will last a while, but OTR will be almost entirely automated in a generation or so. Robots don’t need to rest.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Typically, goods are shipped long haul across the US to big logistics centers which are located just off major highways near large cities or ports or airports. This work can switch to AV very soon.

        It will have a meaningful impact on employment for truckers. Smart ones should be thinking today about what skills they need to start building for the job they’ll need in a few years.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          “skills they need to start building for the job they’ll need in a few years.”

          Like asking: “You got a laptop in the bag? Any liquids?”

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @vogo: One thing you might see first is “platooning” of trucks. A human aboard the lead truck with several autonomous trucks following behind. Much easier to do than navigating on city streets.

          http://newatlas.com/eu-truck-platooning-challenge-success/42714/

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’ve seen similar projections. Aside from a few jurisdictions, trucking is the majority employer in most states, and one of the few ones where you’re guaranteed a (relatively) decent income and (relatively) consistent hours without (relatively) much education.

      Automation of that industry will cause a lot of socioeconomic pain.

      Mind you, the kind of ideology that ) vows to bring back coal mining jobs, and b) opposes universal basic income is going to ignore this problem, or at least blame someone else for it.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “opposes universal basic income ”

        I absolutely do.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          I”m sure the 0.1% appreciates your support.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Take a look at the degeneration of culture that’s taken place in the microcosm of generational welfare-dependence here in the US. The folks pushing this nonsense that propose that all those idle folks will take up fine arts and make other contributions to society are in for a rude awakening. For what it’s worth my family came here with quite literally a $50 bill in hand and a big alpine backpack with most of our clothes in it. My dad took a $500 loan from a coworker for the first month, that was about it for “hand outs.” The model in rural Russia is much simpler than here: you want to eat, you better plant enough potatoes to last the winter. Having lived in a bad part of town fairly recently and observed the buying habits of many of those endowed with various kinds of financial/food aid (many are obese), things don’t look encouraging.

            I’m not saying that letting people starve in the streets is the way forward, but that a massive increase of these same programs will only further degrade society. Most decent people (I’d say the majority) would rather work than be on the dole. A modern CCC program where people work to maintain and build parks and infrastructure in exchange for reasonable pay is something I could get fully behind.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bikegoesbaa

            Do you have critical thinking skills?

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            “Most decent people (I’d say the majority) would rather work than be on the dole”

            Right. So why do you think they’re revert to lazy degenerates just because they are given the choice?

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          ‘gtemnykh” I understand your concern having escaped a totalitarian society. So capitalism seems much better than what you were born into.

          However the key to societal success is the ‘rule of law’ not the capitalist system. The ‘rule of law’ provides for checks and balances on the power of the state and prevents dictatorship. It also ensures that contracts are enforceable just protecting private property.

          As for guaranteed annual incomes, check the experiment conducted in the 1970’s in Dauphin Manitoba. Or what is now happening in Norway. The GIC has resulted in lower crime rates, far lower medical/healthcare costs, improved academic performance/school attendance and even allowed those with an entrepreneurial spirit to start up their own businesses.

          Implemented correctly it would even remove many layers of bureaucracy in the tax department, unemployment offices, welfare agencies and health care and even reduced policing costs. Thus the reduced costs could more than offset the cost of implementing a GIC.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            For what it’s worth Arthur, that Soviet system also made it a literal crime to be unemployed. No one got something for nothing. School children used to get into the back of a truck and drive out to the fields to help with the potato harvest which in turn helped their own school cafeteria. Hard work but a valuable lesson.

            Modern Russia’s system is more dictated by lack of funds, but it is not unreasonable. In smaller villages, families pay a lump sum for school lunches for the year. Families that can’t afford this like my uncle’s family have their kids do part time gardening work in the summer at the school and the fee is waived. Able bodied unemployed people who receive welfare (it isn’t much) are kept on a list, and when some sort of basic manual labor is needed in the village (street sweeping, painting something, etc) a local government representative will stop by their house and take them to work for the day. Alternatively job banks exist, and if a recipient of welfare rejects two offers for positions, they are cut off from benefits.

            All of this would be considered much too inhumane here in the US or elsewhere in the West. Good luck getting a middle schooler to work for a day in a potato field, the lawsuits would come hard and fast.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Farmer here: The reason we don’t have people willing to consider farm work isn’t because they’re lazy, it’s because there are actually skills required that can’t be taught in a day. Modern farming is less about work ethic and more about knowing how to work with technology (although of course work ethic is needed too).

            Your assertion that a middle schooler would be anything more than a liability in the middle of a modern farming operation is kind of a slap in the face, since it implies that any yokel off the street can pick up a hoe and be a farmer. If a job requires at least two years of post-secondary education, it is not unskilled labor.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve Biro

            The real question is, where are Americans going to work after everything is automated? Not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer. Where will the money come from to keep the economy – and society – going? Capitalism is relentless in its pursuit of cheaper labor and overall lower costs. But we’re now on the fringes of technology that could see capitalism choke on itself.

            If most jobs have been automated. – and remember that even fast-food operators have been threatening to automate – how will people earn the money to buy whatever it is that a capitalist wants to sell? We’ve all heard the term “creative destruction.” We’re seeing a lot of destruction in recent years but not too much creation – at least in terms of jobs. I’m not a socialist, but society has to protect itself.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Dr.Z, I’m not asserting anything, keep your face slapping to yourself.

            Working in a school garden, which TEACHES these kids important life skills they will probably need to apply in the future given their locale makes a ton of sense. Yes the collectivized farms of old that relied on mass manual labor are a thing of the past. I’m just speaking generally of a system that instills the concept of working for something to get something in return.

            I spent three summers in college working in a research corn field, none of the measurements or pollination setups could be handled by implements or remote measurements. So us undergrad students (as well as grad students and post-docs) had to spend our days walking the rows doing our measurements and other work. Oppressive humidity between corn rows that stifled any breeze, corn pollen that would land on sweaty skin and start to try to pollinate skin pores. We set up center pivot irrigation setups hauling around 30 ft aluminum pipes that got burning hot in the sun, I’ll never forget the relief of cooling off under swamp-smelling mist once the lines pressurized and the sprinkler came on. Hard work that paid crap money compared to some lucky friends that landed nice internships, but it made memories for a lifetime.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @gtemnykh: I have for various reasons, let’s say ‘considerable’ understanding of the Soviet system. And a great deal of respect for those who escaped it.

            And it was not how our media and politicians portrayed it during the Cold War. Their educational system was in many respects far superior to ours.There was a shortage of consumer choice but enough staples. As for working, you probably know the phrase ‘we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”.

            But the Soviet Union despite its constitution was not subject to the ‘rule of law’. For example the courts were not independent.

            As for dysfunction in the American system, there are a number of problems. Bureaucrats ensure their jobs by ensuring that there are a plethora of people that they have to ‘care for’. Eliminating all these government agencies and the need for people to constantly appear at government agencies by implementing a GIC would remove the barriers that bureaucrats present.

            Another problem is the criminal justice system in the USA. Since so many have criminal records and too many American employers conduct criminal background checks, you have doomed a great many to permanent unemployment.

            Finally for too many continuing education is unobtainable. A GIC would allow them to continue their education, be it in a trade school or other post-secondary institution. And not the private ones that prey on the under-educated.

            Often the reason that those using social welfare (food stamps) are obese is because processed food is cheaper than fresh. And processed food and high sugar food and high carb food allows them to feel fuller, because they often cannot afford protein which serves as an appetite suppressant.

            Finally a GIC would allow those collecting it to make better and/or longer term decisions and purchases.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Building on that second-to-last paragraph: Pound for pound, processed food isn’t cheaper than fresh, since it’s a value-added commodity, but it lasts much, much longer on the shelf, which is more desirable. And there often is protein of some kind, but it’s low-quality and high-sodium, which is a problem in and of itself.

          • 0 avatar

            I think this thread may have drifted away from the subject matter in this story.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Dr.Z; I wish a healthy diet was less expensive (sorry I have corrected my original posting) however here are links to a number of studies, articles, etc including one from Harvard that demonstrate that a healthy diet is more expensive than one made from processed foods/an unhealthy diet.

            And then there is how markets price their goods. A study in once demonstrated that lower priced staples such as ground hamburger were priced higher in the ‘poor’ neighbourhoods than in the richer ones, thus maximizing the store’s profits.

            https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/healthy-vs-unhealthy-diet-costs-1-50-more/

            http://news.nationalpost.com/health/a-healthy-diet-costs-2000-a-year-more-than-an-unhealthy-one-for-average-family-of-four-harvard-study

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/eating-healthy-vs-unhealthy_n_4383633.html

            http://www.newsweek.com/healthy-food-more-expensive-unhealthy-food-study-276161

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “Often the reason that those using social welfare (food stamps) are obese is because processed food is cheaper than fresh. And processed food and high sugar food and high carb food allows them to feel fuller, because they often cannot afford protein which serves as an appetite suppressant.”

            I can only fall back on my own experiences growing up here in the US, but we never had soda, chips, or other junk in the house, it was deemed a decadence. You can buy a bag of potatoes for the price of a bag of chips. Canned tuna is a cheap protein source, as is peanut butter, as well as ground beef bought in bulk. We had a lot of potatoes prepared different ways, soups, baked goods from scratch. We bought ground beef and pork on sale. The only time we got McD’s was on the few family road trips we took to the Adirondacks in the summer (a $1 mcdouble is a very cheap source of protein btw), and it was a big treat. The key thing here is my tireless mother who did all of said cooking, while working part time (later full time), the other key factor was that I had a father that was the primary breadwinner, spreading parental/household responsibilities among two people.

            I think it is both a lack of education and lack of energy for the single mothers that make up a large demographic of those on food-assistance. When they have to do everything by themselves to keep their kids clothed, fed, in school, etc without a father in the picture, I personally cannot blame them for resorting to cheap/easy meals rather than cooking something affordable and healthy from scratch. Still, even with unhealthy foods, the vast quantity of it that is consumed points to just how good even our poor have it, on a global scale. We have folks suing McDonalds for offering food that is too-affordable and too tasty to the poor.

            My 27 year old cousin in rural Siberia who’s married with a baby daughter to take care of, has an entire back yard full of potatoes and other produce that his 24 year old wife tends to, and does all the canning and other prep work. They’re in a tight spot, he’s off driving trains across Central/Eastern Siberia, she has to hold the fort down. Baby in a stroller with a mosquito net over it set up next to the garden, and she’s toiling away weeding. Not many “strong independent women” here in the US could manage that feat. We’re very far removed from this in the US, as evidenced by our obese welfare class, and on the whole should consider ourselves lucky.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            gtemnykh, I believe that you have indeed identified the key issues: i) Single parent families, leaving the sole parent to tired/busy to cook from scratch, sew, etc , ii) the lack of land for private/personal gardens particularly in urban ‘slums’. In Toronto we have experimented with community gardens (much like in England) on hydro right of ways, etc and they have been extremely successful, iii) the lack of role models/family knowledge/history about rural roots. Families who have been urbanized for generations working blue collar jobs have little awareness of gardening or even where their food comes from, iv) advertising which creates a demand for these products and makes viewers believe that everyone is consuming them, v) a declining educational system. Sure wish that they would re-introduce Home Economics as a mandatory course in public schools. One of my aunts had a degree in Home Ec and the ways that she could stretch a dollar were incredible.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Are we really anywhere near seeing robot cars driving around everywhere or do I just have my head in the sand?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Ten years ago, it was goofy Mercedes and Volvo test videos. 20 years ago it was “bury giant cables in the road for the cars to follow”.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Yes, we’re pretty near it. The kind of computing power required to do this, the sensors needed to feed it and the infrastructure to upgrade the algorithms are both cheap and widely available.

      I carry around, in my backpack, a healthy fraction of the computing power of my whole datacentre a decade ago. If I had a more modern GPU, the gap would be much, much wider. It’s connected to the internet by a link that would shame a T-3, which itself is driven through a cellphone that contains a camera that would shame the sensors in many a commercial camera.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        “We”‘re still ways off replacement for human drivers in a fully generalized environment. Limited ones like highway travel, things are getting closer. And over time, the limits will widen.

        But for all of processing power’s exponential growth, the complexity of piloting an autonomous getaway car in a dense, rapidly changing urban environment, being pursued by cars and helicopters shooting at it (as in, can’t just aggressively freeze and cease at the slightest confusion and uncertainty), is likely so many orders of magnitude greater than staying within Highway 80 lanemarkings, that going from one to the other will still take quite some time.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Not really.

      Private vehicle replacement – what everyone means when they get excited about breathless tech articles – is probably at least thirty years away. For various reasons, full autonomy has to mean *full* full autonomy, because you can’t just transfer to humans when the going gets rough. If you try that, you end up with humans who aren’t paying attention having to take over at the worst possible moment, and only in the worst conditions. Bad idea.

      So that leaves full autonomy. But for general use – replacing your normal car – that’s insanely, absurdly difficult. We’re still at a point where autonomous cars need lane markings to work correctly. No self-driving car on the market or on the drawing board could get within a mile of my house, let alone get down my driveway. No vehicle on the market or planned could get me to the racetrack for a Chump event, and nobody doing the development has even TRIED to figure out a way I could tell that car to park next to the ’71 Astro in the paddock. What’s a paddock? What’s an Astro? What’s “next to”?

      Now, replacement of address-to-address vehicles, like certain categories of shipping or livery, is more realistic. But there are still huge, huge obstacles to overcome in terms of construction awareness, bad weather performance, etc.

      I’d guess we *might* see very-restricted autonomous vehicle usage in ten years or so – airport shuttles, maybe some interstate shipping depot-to-depot. But the unexpected event (construction, accidents) problems, the weather problems (night time, rain, snow), the last-mile problems (how to define a target destination that isn’t just a street address; how to understand where to park) are so bad that nobody’s even talking about them, let alone announcing that they’ve been solved.

      And solved they must be, all of them, and all of them essentially perfectly. And solving them will require not just improvements in sensor type, but AI that has a broad understanding of traffic context, surroundings beyond just lane markings, etc.

      Right now autonomous vehicles are the equivalent of household robots that navigate by walking around with their hands out in front of them. That might be good enough to trick some people into thinking you’ve got something smart, but it’s orders of magnitude away from something that can stroll into the kitchen and grab you a Coors.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @perisoft: Lots of specialized areas that need work. I’m trying to focus on intuition. Basically trying to predict what will happen in traffic in order to give a vehicle more time to react to a situation. Had a situation happen today (all captured on video) that is a good example. I was on a ramp and just past the merge point. I hear car running at high rpm to my rear soon followed by blind-spot warning beeps. It was a Honda Element passing just to my right on the shoulder. He passed me and was halfway past the car in front of me. The shoulder was rapidly narrowing so with a curb and guard-rail coming up. As a human, I knew he was either going to cut off the car in front of me or hit the guardrail and curb. I hit the brakes to slow down and help avoid what was going to happen. Sure enough, he cut off the car in front of me causing her to hit the brakes and swerve.

        Everything captured on video for research purposes. At some point, I’ll use this video along with others to help develop a system that can anticipate problems similar to a human driver. I think a system like this is critical to building true autonomous cars. Just reacting to problems isn’t good enough. These systems need to anticipate problems.

        • 0 avatar
          raffi14

          Self-driving cars are simply not going to have “intuition”, and you don’t need it. They’re going to just stay in their lane and follow the rules. There will be accidents, but it will be an order of magnitude safer than manual driving.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Is there a brave new world of self-operating machines about to dawn or is it an anti-utopia of machines displacing the poor while the rich thrive? Both, I suspect: If you’re financially secure, it will be the first; if not, the second. For a preview, take a look at “Player Piano”, Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel (published 1952). It’s not pretty.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      alexndr,
      Interesting question. In our economic history, there has usually been another form of work that became available as other forms declined. 85% of workers were in agriculture before the 1880’s and as that became automated, factories offered jobs. And then they declined, and people flooded into offices for work.

      But what now? Will there be new forms of work, or do we as a country need to start thinking about alternatives for income? I think this is the most dynamic aspect of economic research today, and am very curious to see how it turns out.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Have you ever heard of Sam Harris? If not, listen to some of his podcasts on AI. He has some fascinating insight on the future. He sees a world where basically no work will be done by man and we’ll have to find other ways to occupy our time. Sounds crazy, but give a listen to his podcast. It’s seriously interesting stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          alexndr333

          “We’ll have to find other ways to occupy our time” An interesting notion. I wonder what underlying values will be teased out of humankind under the no-work environment. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” (Proverbs) or “Leisure is the mother of Philosophy”. (Thomas Hobbes). Whatever happens, I suspect the ancient Roman Ovid said it best: “In our leisure we reveal what kind of people we are.” At the end of it all, I believe an ill-educated populace will not do well without work assigned by others.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Whatever happens, I don’t think anyone will go to the poorhouse from investing in lube manufacturers.

          • 0 avatar
            DukeGanote

            Money doesn’t change your personality, it just amplifies it. Hence the popularity and personalities of The Jerry Springer Show, and the Hillbilly Elegy.
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2016/12/21/daily-202-why-the-author-of-hillbilly-elegy-is-moving-home-to-ohio/5859da6ee9b69b36fcfeaf48/

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “But what now?”

        The Matrix

  • avatar
    gasser

    In my book, there is no premium for the services of a driver. I echo the distracted driving techniques of NYC cabbies which were noted above. As far as the yellow cabs in NYC, I have found Uber/Lyft to be cleaner, newer and the drivers more pleasant. Even those drivers aren’t perfect. They know nothing more of the area than Waze or Goggle Maps can tell me. More than once, I’ve been dropped at a hotel complex or an office complex, where I was still blocks from my address, but their phone app said this was the spot.
    If you can’t perform the job better, or as good as a robot, why would I pay you a premium for your services???
    The Pony Express, railroads, 8 track stereo, horse carriages, ice boxes, giant catalogs etc, all got displaced by newer technologies. It won’t end anytime soon.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “A great philosopher once said that you can’t start a fire without a spark, followed by something about rhythmic movements in unlit spaces.”

    Bravo.

  • avatar

    Luddites!

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    “It doesn’t do anything for the local economy to have driverless cars”

    Well, if there’s no value in them then you don’t have to worry about customers using them. Problem solved.

    But I suspect “the local economy” will find a lot of benefit from getting around an established monopoly and paying less for a superior service, as they currently are with Uber.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      well done.

    • 0 avatar
      cirats

      So I guess that means WalMarts are great for local economies as well?

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Basically yes.

        It appears as though the people who make up “the local economy” find Wal-marts to be valuable. This is why they shop there.

        All the mom and pop places that Wal-mart puts out of business wind up that way because Wal-mart does a better job of serving the needs and wants of “the local economy”.

        • 0 avatar
          orenwolf

          “All the mom and pop places that Wal-mart puts out of business wind up that way because Wal-mart does a better job of serving the needs and wants of “the local economy”.”

          That is, of course. Absolutely true. Wal-mart offers better selection and value than smaller providers could hope to. They do this, though, by lowering wages – both for their own employees, the employees of suppliers, and by using foreign labour and supply to fill their shelves.

          This is great news for the lower class (they can afford stuff), and terrible news for them too (they’re most likely to be working at wal-mart making those poverty wages), but the question them becomes, for the middle class that shops there and has more disposable income, is it in fact better to *support* a place like Wal-Mart, or instead spend more to support local (or even national or continental) manufacturers who offer better wages and local jobs?

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            Sure, nothing is an unmitigated good; to include big box stores or the potential for autonomous cabs.

            But it’s ridiculous to claim that something that people freely choose to use because it improves their life “doesn’t do anything for the local economy”.

            Yes, there will be some losers with auto cabs; especially cab drivers.

            There will also be some winners; pretty much everybody else.

            That’s OK.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In the short term, shopping at Walmart is beneficial for them as it lowers their initial shopping costs.

            In the long run it hurts them as it eliminates competition in the marketplace and centralizes power in large global corporations which have no loyalty to their local communities. And eventually results in less overall employment in their region and greater income disparity.

            Once corporations started focusing on quarterly results and executive compensation was tied to that and stock options, any commitment to long term planning largely disappeared.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    Ah yes New York. Still denying not only the future but the past too.

    Uber,Lyft and the others can sway these pea brains by selling the thought that these fully automated vehicles will reduce the dreaded Co2. That and a few fat campaign checks will have the driver-less cars and trucks on the road before they are even ready. Right now it is the protected industries that are paying to play. We all know that those who write the biggest checks get what they want.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      walleyeman,
      I think you are confusing AVs with EVs. I haven’t seen anyone claiming that automated vehicles (AVs) will reduce CO2. Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the other hand…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        There have been discussions about AVs reducing emissions by virtue of better traffic-flow management, especially in scenarios where cars can communicate with each other as well as with some kind of overarching traffic-management system.

        The theory is that you could have more vehicles moving faster in a given stretch of road without congestion or accidents, and, in cities, without the need for traffic lights.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          Yeah, I’ve seen videos of wonderful city autonomous traffic, with cars streaming interlocked through intersections in a constant stream. One presumes that in these locales, pedestrians will either be confined to their current block or hail a self-driving Uber to cross the street.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Thanks, psar,
          In theory I get it, but I feel like we’re a couple of decades from that vision. There are so many mouth breathers we’d have to get off the road first.

  • avatar

    Somebody has to:

    Write the code for the robots
    Maintain the robots
    Maintain the vehicles
    Manufacture spares for the vehicles
    Maintain the satellites
    Manage payment and accounts
    Advertise these services
    Provide legal and tax advice to the companies

    Jobs.


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  • Jeff S: I had 2 cars that rusted–one on the bottom of the fire wall and another where the unibody was attached...
  • WildcatMatt: Dad picked up a used ’68 Beetle to weather OPEC II, one with the “AutoStick” so Mom...
  • salmonmigration: Is this a time traveler from the distant past?? The first-gen Tacoma that had that issue stopped...
  • jh26036: You miss the best part then, putting quality miles on a car you just bought. These big sedans eat up miles...

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