Never mind the self-driving ones, where the hell is my flying car?
Why Self-Driving Cars Are NOT The Future
Technological hurdles aside, if we could develop the AI that makes self-driving cars as safe as human-driven cars, they’d still have quite a few other hurdles to overcome before going mainstream.
The biggest hurdle, perhaps, is the problem of liability.
Last week, a man in North Carolina was driving at night, following his GPS. The GPS led him to a bridge that the man couldn’t see was unfinished. He then drove off the bridge, crashed upside down in the river below and died. His GPS didn’t show that a portion of the bridge had been washed away – instead it went on mindlessly recommending it as the fastest route. After the man’s death, questions came up about who should be held responsible. Was it all the man’s fault? What about the fault of the city for not repairing the bridge? The state? The bridge manufacturer? What about the GPS technology that got it wrong? Should they pay out? It wasn’t clear where the fault lay and for that reason, all parties involved were vulnerable to lawsuits.
The list of liabilities continues to expand as well. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has only demanded more and more accountability from car manufacturers regarding auto safety regulations over the years. According to NHTSA (an arm of the Department of Transportation), all vehicles MUST include specific types of seatbelts, they MUST disclose the locations of where all their parts are assembled (via the Labeling Act), they MUST follow all cybersecurity restrictions, and if a new safety recall should arise, the manufacturer MUST fix them at their own expense. Today, about one in four vehicles on the road have an unresolved safety recall on them which has increased every year since the recall program’s inception.While some may say this is a good thing to have that much oversight around safety, it also does a lot to discourage manufacturers from sticking their necks out for potentially unsafe innovations.
The EPA is also squeezing vehicle manufacturers with new regulations – tightening its emission standards and adding restrictions that car manufacturers find increasingly difficult to abide by. As David Shepardson from Reuters said,
New rules [that] take effect in the 2023 model year… require a 28.3% reduction in vehicle emissions through 2026. The rules will be challenging for automakers to meet, especially for Detroit’s Big Three automakers. General Motors (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Chrysler-parent Stellantis NV (STLA.MI).
With all this red tape, automotive manufacturers are already feeling the weight of big brother pressing on their shoulders and would be reluctant to go all in on self-driving vehicles without all the safety concerns rigorously tested and approved to the point they can be sufficiently indemnified from lawsuits.
Perhaps in another country with a more authoritative government, the liability issues can be overcome.
Perhaps. But you can bet that, in a country with a LESS authoritative government whose citizenry was jealous enough of their liberty to see to it that their central government remained firmly within its Constitutional corral, we’d probably have workable autonomous and flying cars both by now. The lesson: bloated, meddlesome, too-powerful governments stifle creativity and innovation; capitalism and liberty encourages them, and rewards them richly. In Amerika v2.0, unless and until We The People have internalized that lesson fully and put its teachings into full effect, the day of the flying car can never dawn.
Just to be clear here, a GPS is nothing more than a map. It had nothing to do with the bridge being out and no barricade in place. And it was a private road, not state controlled.
I suspect had it been daylight the fellow would have seen what was not there. The owners of this property are in deep shit IMO. No excuse to have a road lead to a drop off and not have a permanent barricade.
All I demand is proof-of-concept:
1) Make self-driving trains a flawless reality first. FFS, trains only have three options: forward, backwards, and stop. If you can’t even do that right, you’ve got no earthly fucking business trying it with busses and passenger automobiles, let alone anything more complex, like ships and aircraft.
When there are zero train collisions after 10 years, you can then proceed to trying it with cars.
2) For the first year after introduction, require the entire corporate boards and executive leadership to ride around strapped to the bumpers, in 8-hour shifts, every day for a year, attached to their products. IDGAF if you stand behind your product, I want self-driving car sellers to get strapped in front of the motherf**kers in lieu of bumpers. They can wear raingear, and goggles, but no other PPE, or safety gear allowed. And driven 200K miles apiece, minimum, per person, in city traffic. If the outside ain’t that safe, the inside ain’t that safe either. Period.
3) Any corporation with more than a 10% casualty rate at the end of that year gets foreclosed, for cause, and the assets sold at auction.
Deal, or no deal.
“When there are zero train collisions after 10 years”
This is the wrong way to look at it. If the collisions/deaths were cut in half that would be an improvement. Reduction is the goal in that respect. The enemy of good enough is perfect. And perfect never happens. It’s used as an excuse to not make improvements.
Ask the families of the unlucky 50% in your example if they feel fortunate they were killed by a microchip instead of an idiot.
Then run it by a few jury pools.
“Good enough” isn’t.
Also, a brief review of Asimov’s Rules Of Robotics might be in order.
They are non-negotiable.
The total lack of interest in them by self-driving car proponents is why their schemes fail, and probably always will.
In theory, self-driving cars will work in practice.
In practice, self-driving cars only work in theory.
Hence “Strap the builders to the car bumpers for a year”.
It’s Darwinian perfection.
How about we ask the families of the 50% that are alive?
Jury’s award big $$$ because you spill coffee in your lap. That’s your argument?
“Good enough” is English for good enough. It is better than not good enough. Perfection is not achievable and is the enemy of good enough. No men landed and walked on the moon without understanding this concept.
As for Asimov, it’s fiction. Old fiction. But let’s just take the 1st of the three laws since it’s the only one applicable. Having a higher death rate because you refuse to allow the “robots” to drive the cars is the direct violation of the law since having the robots drive reduces the deaths.
IMHO we will all be doing a lot of walking soon