In 2014, as publications and automakers began making greater noise about autonomous vehicles, researchers at MIT’s Media Lab issued some questions to the public. The institute’s Moral Machines experiment offered up a series of scenarios in which a self-driving car that has lost its brakes has to hit one of two targets, then asked the respondents which of the two targets they’d prefer to see the car hit.
Four years later, the results are in. If our future vehicles are to drive themselves, they’ll need to have moral choices programmed into their AI-controlled accident avoidance systems. And now we know exactly who the public would like to see fall under the wheels of these cars.
However, there’s a problem: agreement on who to sacrifice differs greatly from country to country.
Volkswagen AG suspended chief lobbyist Thomas Steg on Tuesday as its “first consequences as a result of animal tests.” If you’ll recall, German automakers were faulted with funding experiments on monkeys (and also people) that haven’t gone over well in the media. Both Daimler and VW say they will conduct investigations to get to the bottom of how something like this could have happened.
At its meeting today, Volkswagen Group’s Board of Management accepted a proposal made by Steg, who heads external relations and sustainability, that he be suspended until a full investigation is completed.
“We are currently in the process of investigating the work of the EUGT, which was dissolved in 2017, and drawing all the necessary consequences. Mr. Steg has declared that he will assume full responsibility. I respect his decision,” said Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller in a statement.
Here at TTAC, it’s been a tradition of sorts to call out poor examples of car reviews. In fact, we’ve done it so often over the years that I wondered if doing it again would be overkill. There’s such a multitude of miserably bad car reviewers on the minor car blogs of the Internet that it hardly seemed worth pointing out yet another case.
Well, I did wonder that. Then I read some reviews by Tim Esterdahl of Car Revs Daily. I wondered no longer.
The meme is called I Hope Senpai Will Notice Me, and it commonly refers to a situation in which someone hopes desperately to catch the attention (no matter how temporary that attention might be) of a romantic interest and/or social superior.
When it happens in the auto industry, it usually comes in the form of an auto industry alpha male temporarily deigning to notice one of our many beta/omega/is-there-something-worse-than-omega-cause-if-so-that-word-applies automotive journalists.
I inadvertently participated in a “Senpai, Notice Me!” moment of my own when I agreed to face Bob Lutz in the CTS-V Challenge. Robert Farago told me not to attend. He’d correctly diagnosed the event as one in which auto journos would crawl on their hands and knees to lick the spittle dripping from Bob Lutz’s super-alpha chin; in particular, I remember the odd shudder of ecstatic, erotic joy that visibly wiggled through Wes Siler’s body when Bob turned to him and offhandedly said, “Hi, Wes.”
[Editor’s note: This article was originally posted with the title “ Why Are We Given A New Car To Drive Each Week? And How? GCBC’s Background, Ethics, And Methods Explained” on GoodCarBadCar on March 28, 2016. I asked Tim if we could repost it here because, whether he knows it or not, he’s one of the very few people in this business you should aspire to be if you want to become an automotive journalist. It is reposted here with his permission and for your education. —MS]
Of the 6200+ posts on GoodCarBadCar, only 3 percent are car reviews. In February 2016, for example, we published five reviews on GCBC plus 66 other articles, not to mention another eight submissions at The Truth About Cars and six more at Autofocus.ca.
Yet it is with increasing frequency that the people with whom I have personal contact — whether in conversation at visiting hours for a funeral, in emails from long-time readers, when questioned by soon-to-be car buyers — clearly believe that the bulk of my work revolves around driving fast cars down twisty roads.
In one of the many private automotive journalist groups on Facebook (from which I’ll most certainly be banned later today), there was a comment posted recently from a car reviewer bemoaning his lack of a press car in the near future.
“I have to go four days without a press car. My life is basically on hold,” said our dear reviewer. “What am I supposed to do?”
This is the sad reality for most “car reviewers”. Their personal brands are so strictly defined that they can’t write about anything other than how many cup holders are in the newest Maibatsu Monstrosity.
But then it got worse. From another reviewer: “I have no personal vehicle so when my inevitable lag in press cars happens, I’ll be lost.”
I’m sorry — you don’t own a car? Say what?
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 … “
Though General Motors gave 15 of its employees the ax over their part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in the National Press Club Monday that no one in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was fired or disciplined over their part of the recall and subsequent fallout.
If you saw the video above on Autoblog, accompanied by some tired prose suggesting that you summon some enthusiasm for this, the latest automotive promotion, would you think twice? You might if you knew the person who posted the story, and knew they were being paid to promote said promotion. But how does one actually get an inside look at the gritty world of automotive PR payola? How do you break through the great wall of… what’s that, Jalopnik?
Today, Autoblog writer Jeff Glucker wrote about Nissan’s Britney Spears contest. Trouble is, he’s working for the agency that’s running it.
Earlier this week, [then-Autoblog Associate Editor Jeff] Glucker sent out an e-mail solicitation to several of his contacts in the automotive website world, asking for help promoting a new campaign for the Nissan Versa:
I am working with third-party agency that’s assisting Nissan with a new campaign for the Versa. No, I didn’t lose my job or anything – this is just some side contracting work so I can buy a second iPad or golden shift-knob for my car.
Oh right, you just have to open your eyes.
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- Inside Looking Out The next 4Runner will be BEV.
- The Oracle This is a proper Italian red sauce turd.
- Carson D This isn't a notice of a wait time for 4Runner fans. This is a deadline for the opportunity to buy one new before they're gone. Whatever comes next, there is no possible way that it will be as good at doing 4Runner things as what is available today.
- Bkojote There's a lot "just right" with the current 4Runner, and having spent time in more contemporary equivalents for road trips, I completely understand why they sell a ton of these.Here's some topics that aren't super common among 4runner owners - excessive carbon buildup in the engine after 40,000 miles (Audi/VW), bent valves (Bronco) , failed oil coolers (Jeep), cracked engine blocks (Jeep), dead vehicles from OTA updates (Chevy Colorado), being stranded due to opening the door too many times (Defender), malfunctioning engine sensors (Defender, VW), dead batteries due to electrical system malfunctions (Jeep), unusable defoggers (Jeep), waiting for seat heaters to boot up (Subaru), randomly catching fire (Kia/Hyundai), crappy build quality (Ford, Tesla).The interior feels solid and rattle free, and everything feels substantial in the way a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Kia Telluride does not. 14 year run means accessories are plentiful and well sorted. The control inputs from the radio to heated seats to climate control work better than 99% of the cars you can buy new at this point and are dead simple and ergonomically satisfying. Even dynamically (I drove a model with the KDSS system to be fair) it is a surprisingly composed vehicle on mountain roads- it's far more civilized than a Bronco or Wrangler, and hell, it was far more pleasant than the past two peastant-grade Benz crapmobiles I've been in.So I get it- car journalist rags whine about how overly complicated and tech-heavy modern vehicles are while their substance is cost cut, but here's the literal definition of 'don't fix it if it aint broken.' . It's a trusty Ford Econoline in a world of craptastic Ram ProMasters.
- Frank Sounds like they dont want to debut it at the same time as the new Land Cruiser, which is probably smart. The new 'runner is ready to go I am told, so there's a reason for this delay.