QOTD: Should The Waymo Dude Have a Driver's License?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
qotd should the waymo dude have a driver s license

Anybody who has ever had me as a trackday instructor has heard me repeat it over and over again: driving a car quickly and well is a teachable skill. I can take pretty much any healthy, competent adult and get them to within five or six seconds a lap of what Fernando Alonso could do in, say, a Civic Si. That’s why I fell in love with racing cars; after 20 years of competing in various cycling disciplines and being continually punished for everything from my torso length (too much) to my number of functioning anterior cruciate ligaments (one less than optimal) I was all like, “Wait, you mean that all I have to do is move my hands slowly and not be a wuss about corner entry speed?”

True, at the very upper echelons of the sport there are some non-negotiable requirements for physical size, strength, and endurance. In general, however, driving is pretty easy. My eight-year-old son can flick his kart into a nice drift at 45 miles per hour and then thread through a space that is just inches wider than his vehicle. He thinks hitting a baseball is harder than driving a go-kart, and I agree. His stepmother went from not knowing what a Miata was to winning a race in one across the space of 18 months. You get the idea.

Yet there is a species of creature that is generally unable to match my eight-year-old son or 30-something wife for either courage or competence, and that species is called the “modern millennial male.” In the case of Vahid Kazemi, this species is able to get a doctorate in “computer vision learning” but he can’t operate a RAV4 or whatever without pissing himself.

How do you solve a problem like Vahid?

You can read Alex Roy’s takedown of this dude at The Drive, but Alex focuses on Vahid’s inability to understand the subtle distinctions between levels of autonomous driving. I’d like to take a different, and possibly more controversial, tack.

What I want to suggest here is that ol’ Vahid is exactly what you get when you shelter young men and prevent them from ever “seeing the elephant” in the entire course of their pampered little lives. The same might be true for young ladies, but I don’t know because I’m not a young lady and I don’t have any daughters. That’s beyond my area of expertise. But what I can tell you is that if you get into your 20s without being to handle a plain-Jane passenger car in ordinary traffic, and you are not a native New Yorker, I’m going to make a few assumptions about what kind of man you are.

In my opinion, a man who is old enough to get his PhD should be able to drive a car, ride a motorcycle, understand most basic types of machinery, operate a firearm, calculate a tip, handle a confrontation with another man whether through diplomacy or force as required, and take a woman on a date (if that’s his bag, baby) without finishing the night either alone or under investigation for harassment. I’m not saying that you have to engage in the sort of nature-Zoolander cosplay that made former Jalopnik writer Wes Siler a laughingstock. It’s THE CURRENT YEAR and I doubt that any of us will be forced to subsistence hunt in the near future. But young men should be encouraged to learn and develop the skills they will need to be something other than helpless outside of Park Slope or Mountain View.

Were I Vahid’s father, I’d slap him across the face for deciding that the vast majority of humanity isn’t fit to drive a car just because he can’t handle the task. That way lies the dictatorship of the proletariat. And then I’d slap myself across the face for raising someone like that, because the faults of a son have to be traced to a father. End of rant. And it’s not helpful because I’m not Vahid’s father and I don’t know who Vahid’s father is. So, I repeat, and I implore you, dear reader:

How do you solve a problem like Vahid?

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2 of 117 comments
  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Dec 09, 2017

    All the guy needed to do to make his tweet inoffensive to competent drivers who want to maintain the freedom to pilot themselves in the future would be to change his last line to "Some humans aren't designed to drive cars!" That bit of self-deprecation would have been enough to believe that he was joking, or at least that he recognizes his relative incompetence is not universal.

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on May 30, 2018

    This very much reminds me about the LJ entry of Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, where he complained about UI of cars. He really wanted an indicator that showed the steering angle.

  • Analoggrotto By the time any of Hyundai's Japanese competitors were this size and age, they produced iconic vehicles which are now highly desirable and going for good money used. But Hyundai/Kia have nothing to this point that anyone will care about in the future. Those 20k over MSRP Tellurides? Worn out junk sitting at the used car lot, worn beyond their actual age. Hyundai/Kia has not had anything comparable to the significance of CVCC, 240Z, Supra, Celica, AE86, RX-(7), 2000GT, Skyline, GT-R, WRX, Evo, Preludio, CRX, Si, Land Cruiser, NSX etc. All of this in those years where Detroiters and Teutonic prejudiced elitists were openly bashing the Japanese with racist derogatory language. Tiger Woods running off the road in a Genesis didn't open up a moment, and the Genesis Sedan featuring in Inception didn't matter any more than the Lincoln MKS showing up for a moment in Dark Knight. Hyundai/Kia are too busy attempting to re-invent others' history for themselves. But hey, they have to start somewhere and the N74 is very cool looking. Hyundai/Kia's biggest fans are auto Journalists who for almost 2 decades have been hyping them up to deafening volumes contributing further distrust in any media.
  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)