Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

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Robert66
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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Robert66 » April 8th, 2018, 3:32 pm

Thanks for the replies.

Despite a mainly positive view of AVs, it is apparent from several comments that my concerns, regarding the "rollout" of the technology, are well-grounded.
Alias wrote:
March 25th, 2018, 12:00 pm
Would you buy and/or use an AV? Why/why not?
Yes, if I could afford it.
I am 71, with failing eyesight and intermittent hearing problems. In a few years, I will not be competent or safe on the highway.
That means I have to give up my home in the country, or get someone else to drive me into town for medical appointments and supplies. An AV would assure me the freedom and independence I very much don't look forward to losing.
I strongly suspect that, after taxi and delivery fleet owners, the biggest market for these cars will be old people. And we are legion!
Good point, Alias. A future containing such a legion of drivers and their personal "freedom" machines does, however, sound rather like the current situation (too many vehicles, not enough freedom), and quite dystopian compared to the future which could be had, where private vehicles could be mostly replaced by mass transit and shared rides/vehicles. Such a possible would require foresight and planning, of course, and is therefore unlikely.
Alias wrote:
March 25th, 2018, 12:00 pm

I find it - not odd; I suppose all novelty is newsworthy - unfair to make such a production-number out of the single traffic fatality involving a robot car, while the media paid no attention to the 120 or so pedestrian fatalities involving human-driven cars on the same day.
At what point will it be fair to pay attention to the number of fatalities involving AVs? Should we wait for the number to rise past a certain threshold, or address the issues in the planning stages - like now? Can we be sure that pedestrian fatalities will decrease with the uptake of AVs? Whose assurances are we to rely on?
Alias wrote:
March 25th, 2018, 12:00 pm

I think there is a deep distrust of these cars. Irrational, of course, because, as you say, many autonomous features are taken for granted in mass market vehicles.
I think there ought to be a deep distrust of car-makers, and their supposed regulators. I'm thinking about VW here, but the point I originally tried to make was to do with the extremely slow, and incomplete, incorporation of available life-saving technology. eg Mercedes invented technology more than 20 years ago which would prevent rear-end collisions - how many cars have that today?
Alias wrote:
March 25th, 2018, 12:00 pm
People are leery and reporters, looking for a sensation, a controversy, an issue, exploit that suspicion: they jump on each setback in the testing process as if it were not a normal part of change (progress)
My suspicion is that while technological change is inevitable, market forces will (in the now-to-be-assumed absence of proper regulation) determine the way in which aspects of technological "progress" are adopted, ignored, or available to only a few.
Alias wrote:
March 25th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Yes, a whole class of jobs - millions of jobs - will disappear. That happens with every technological advance, and the societies of the near future will have to deal with it. Many other computerized and automated services and processes are so normal that people don't even notice their dependency. Not much of an outcry against automated bank-tellers these days.
They might even learn to reassign people now working at tedious, stressful, soul and health-killing jobs to rendering much-needed aid to their fellow human beings.
Another well-made point, Alias. Do you think the proportion of 'tedious, stressful, soul and health-killing jobs' is decreasing over time, though? Do you think there could be unemployed , or otherwise-employed, people out there who might like the sound of working as a bank teller?
Alias wrote:
March 25th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Once the traffic system is organized to accommodate all the automated public, private and rental transportation, cities will become a whole lot safer, cleaner and more pleasant. My grandchildren will wonder what the fuss was about.
Here we have the heart of the issue, the fuss that I think we should be dealing with. How exactly will the traffic system be organised? Who will ensure that 'cities will become a whole lot safer, cleaner and more pleasant'? How will the replacement, by those wealthy enough to afford it, of private conventional vehicles with AVs do anything to ensure such a rosy outcome?
LuckyR wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 4:00 am
No. Why would I pay extra for something that reduces my enjoyment of transportation and does the job less efficiently?
LuckyR wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 4:00 am
No. Why would I pay extra for something that reduces my enjoyment of transportation and does the job less efficiently?

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Robert66
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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Robert66 » April 8th, 2018, 3:59 pm

Having trouble with pasting quotes here - they stopped appearing in my text box.
LuckyR wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 4:00 am
No. Why would I pay extra for something that reduces my enjoyment of transportation and does the job less efficiently?
I would like in the future for all to enjoy efficient transportation - hmmm, sounds to me like a decent public transport system.
Greta wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 5:49 pm
I would love to have an AV. It would change my life. Aside from having the navigational skills of a jellyfish, I find modern traffic conditions with so many gigantic 4WD vehicles everywhere too intimidating to drive today. I do not understand why cars keep getting bigger as traffic becomes more intense.

In Rome, almost everyone drives tiny cars in response to heavy traffic. If they mostly had large cars the city would simply stop in gridlock. However, in Sydney almost everyone selfishly buys gigantic SUVs that exacerbate the heavy traffic issues and destroy visibility for other drivers, making driving unsafe unless one joins the "arms race" - or has an autonomous vehicle.
I sympathise, Greta, as a fellow Sydney-sider. But why would we assume that AVs will be smaller, or necessarily programmed such that traffic issues will be addressed?
Eduk wrote:
March 29th, 2018, 4:01 pm

The trolley problem in the real world is almost impossible so if the AI has been programmed right or wrong won't make any difference.
People won't get the choice of the selfish option.
I'm not sure what you mean, Eduk. Capitalism appears to operate precisely on the premise that sufficiently wealthy consumers (as opposed to all citizens) will have the choice of the "selfish option" thrust upon them at every conceivable opportunity. The irrational purchase and use of large vehicles is the "fashion", and is the selfish option par excellence.
LuckyR wrote:
March 31st, 2018, 1:24 am
The programmers aren't going to allow the car to break the speed limit as they would be liable and it would void any fancy contractual language they would make you sign to complete the purchase.
Interesting point, LuckyR. So why would the many drivers, who currently choose to exceed the speed limit when they see fit,purchase a vehicle which disallows such an "advantage"?
Greta wrote:
March 31st, 2018, 6:29 pm
... there will come a time when the organised flow of automated traffic will be immensely more efficient that the relatively chaotic situation on the reads at present.


Well that's a relief! Please elaborate, though - how is the current bunch of inept corporate patsies we laughingly refer to as government going to ensure such organisation?

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Greta » April 8th, 2018, 5:24 pm

Robert66 wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 3:59 pm
Greta wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 5:49 pm
I would love to have an AV. It would change my life. Aside from having the navigational skills of a jellyfish, I find modern traffic conditions with so many gigantic 4WD vehicles everywhere too intimidating to drive today. I do not understand why cars keep getting bigger as traffic becomes more intense.

In Rome, almost everyone drives tiny cars in response to heavy traffic. If they mostly had large cars the city would simply stop in gridlock. However, in Sydney almost everyone selfishly buys gigantic SUVs that exacerbate the heavy traffic issues and destroy visibility for other drivers, making driving unsafe unless one joins the "arms race" - or has an autonomous vehicle.
I sympathise, Greta, as a fellow Sydney-sider. But why would we assume that AVs will be smaller, or necessarily programmed such that traffic issues will be addressed?
It will be interesting to see. I can imagine how, over time, drivers may tire of their cumbersome, hard-to-park, petrol guzzlers and shift to smaller, more manoeuvrable vehicles like the Romans (Rome would surely die in a gridlock if not for all those small cars). However, I can also imagine a size arms war, where the "punishment" for having a small car is increased danger and almost no visibility. Even today, I would class almost half of all "cars" on the road in Sydney as trucks. Until people are taxed fairly for their impact on roads, visibility, parking space, traffic flow space, street widths, this race to the biggest may continue.
Greta wrote:
March 31st, 2018, 6:29 pm
... there will come a time when the organised flow of automated traffic will be immensely more efficient that the relatively chaotic situation on the reads at present.

Well that's a relief! Please elaborate, though - how is the current bunch of inept corporate patsies we laughingly refer to as government going to ensure such organisation?[/quote]

It may take some time, Robert, no doubt requiring a series of inept corporate patsies and their multinational masters to eventually work it out.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Alias » April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm

Robert66 wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 3:32 pm
Good point, Alias. A future containing such a legion of drivers and their personal "freedom" machines does, however, sound rather like the current situation
No, it's actually very different. Right now, a lot of people are driving who have failing faculties, psychological issues, substance problems, fatigue or just plain bad judgment. They are far more dangerous than an AV, but most of them don't realize it. Even the ones who do, even the ones who are filled with trepidation, can't give up their wheels now, because there is no realistic or affordable alternative. Not out here on the highway.
...the future which could be had, where private vehicles could be mostly replaced by mass transit and shared rides/vehicles. Such a possible would require foresight and planning, of course, and is therefore unlikely.
In cities, far from unlikely, it's almost certain. In the cities, many people have already given up private cars - they're expensive to insure and feed; difficult as well as expensive to park. But public transit in North America is mostly crap: slow, crowded, uncomfortable, inconvenient and expensive. Municipal governments can't afford really good transit systems, and working people can't afford to live near their jobs. Most cities have no adequate bicycle lanes, either.
Uber has picked up some of that custom, and will (contrary to the protestations of the moment) replace casual human drivers with automated cars. Very likely, taxi services, airports and municipalities will have on-demand autonomous ride service at reasonable rates. Call a car, go directly where you need to go - it knows the way and the rules; doesn't hesitate or go north on a southbound street; doesn't circle the block five times looking for a parking space - arrive, dismiss the car. No hassle. Far less congestion, with room for bikes and pedestrians.
At what point will it be fair to pay attention to the number of fatalities involving AVs?
Oddly, but not surprisingly re-framed.
Fairness is exactly what I was on about. Report the incidents accurately, in context and perspective - not sensationalized and misrepresented. Scare-mongering does not improve the manufacturers' performance, nor address the issue of design flaws - testing does that.
Can we be sure that pedestrian fatalities will decrease with the uptake of AVs?
Yes.
Whose assurances are we to rely on?
Not assurances; statistics. Compare the safety record of automated systems to human-controlled system in any arena.
Computers don't get drunk - that single factor alone will cut traffic fatalities by 1,233 in one year in the US alone.
I think there ought to be a deep distrust of car-makers, and their supposed regulators.
There always should have been better oversight of manufacturing in general. Manufacturers try to maximize profits, sometime by using shoddy material, sometime by rushing untested products to market. How does that pertain to AV's in particular, say as compared to exploding washing machines or runaway lawn tractors?
Do you think the proportion of 'tedious, stressful, soul and health-killing jobs' is decreasing over time, though?
Most jobs are like that, factory jobs are very much like that, and all jobs are decreasing.
Do you think there could be unemployed , or otherwise-employed, people out there who might like the sound of working as a bank teller?
It doesn't matter. Lots of unemployed people might like the sound of delivering milk or bread with a horse-drawn wagon, but they're still not coming back. Should the economy survive another 20 years, it will simply have to switch to GBI and people will have to find their own occupations.
How exactly will the traffic system be organised? Who will ensure that 'cities will become a whole lot safer, cleaner and more pleasant'?
City planners, architects, engineers. Skeptical as we may be of our own capabilities, cities have been organized by human beings, to accommodate whatever was new and better, for the last 6000 years. They'll do what they need to.
How will the replacement, by those wealthy enough to afford it, of private conventional vehicles with AVs do anything to ensure such a rosy outcome?
At first, just the wealthy will be a little safer, cleaner and quieter. Then it becomes mainstream - particularly, as mentioned above, as a cheaper replacement for taxis and adjunct to public transit. For example, on routes that are less frequented late at night, cities can't afford to run near-empty buses very frequently, so lone pedestrians going home from shift work or social calls have long waits on cold, dark streetcorners - and once they're on the bus, are still at some risk when disembarking. It would be good to take a robot car door-to-door.
And when all the robot cars are electric, the streets will be far more pleasant.
A novelty soon becomes affordable, then common, then normal.
That's what happened with every technological innovation.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Eduk » April 9th, 2018, 2:38 am

Everyone made some great points. But it turns out that whatever I said first was 100% right. I guess I'm just amazing.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Robert66 » April 13th, 2018, 4:36 pm

There is a tension between the rosy future you are expecting, Alias, and the urban realities you describe. I agree with what you write regarding the potential benefits of AV technology, and admire your optimism. As I first wrote, there COULD be great urban transformation incorporating AVs and the opportunities they could bring. But to expect that the same market forces which have brought to USA, Australia, and many parts of the world overcrowded roads, inadequate public transport, and complete disrespect for pedestrians, the poor and marginalised, will magic away these and many other problems of inequality exemplified by transportation, I think is crazy.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
In the cities, many people have already given up private cars
And many more have not and cannot. Who are they? The poor and marginalised, forced by market failure to drive on choked roads in order to serve the wealthy inner cities.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
Very likely, taxi services, airports and municipalities will have on-demand autonomous ride service at reasonable rates.
More likely that the extra choices to be made available to the wealthy will be denied to the very people most needing a choice. A ride service to come and pick me up from my outer-urban hovel so I can get to the mansion I clean in the city, at a reasonable rate? That does sound fabulous.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
Skeptical as we may be of our own capabilities, cities have been organized by human beings, to accommodate whatever was new and better, for the last 6000 years. They'll do what they need to.
My city is currently being organised by market forces, aided (rather than regulated) by dodgy government, to accommodate the new and better for the benefit of about 1% of the population. In the context of rapid population growth coupled with increasing urbanisation, what cities "will need to do" is to expel most of their populations, so that those who remain can continue to enjoy their planet-wrecking lifestyles. The proles outside the wall will have to make their own arrangements.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
There always should have been better oversight of manufacturing in general.
Well this is precisely the kind of thing we will hear in the future, in discussions about how well we implemented the wonderful technologies made available, and how we should have considered the social dimensions of what we have done.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Robert66 » April 13th, 2018, 4:38 pm

Eduk wrote:
April 9th, 2018, 2:38 am
Everyone made some great points. But it turns out that whatever I said first was 100% right. I guess I'm just amazing.
You are right, Eduk. You are amazing.

What were you talking about?

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Alias » April 13th, 2018, 5:45 pm

Robert66 wrote:
April 13th, 2018, 4:36 pm
There is a tension between the rosy future you are expecting, Alias, and the urban realities you describe.
I never said "rosy future". You did.
Typically, new technology benefits some, then many, then most.
I agree with what you write regarding the potential benefits of AV technology, and admire your optimism.
I'm not optimistic. I preface all prognostications with: "If".
As I first wrote, there COULD be great urban transformation incorporating AVs and the opportunities they could bring. But to expect that the same market forces which have brought to USA, Australia, and many parts of the world overcrowded roads, inadequate public transport, and complete disrespect for pedestrians, the poor and marginalised, will magic away these and many other problems of inequality exemplified by transportation, I think is crazy.
I don't think capitalism will "magic away" anything but itself. I do believe that whatever helps to take some human craziness out of transportation or production or transactions of any kind is a net gain in terms of preserving human life. Whether saving human lives is a good or bad thing in itself, I'm not in a position to judge.
[In the cities, many people have already given up private cars]
And many more have not and cannot. Who are they? The poor and marginalised, forced by market failure to drive on choked roads in order to serve the wealthy inner cities.
And many of those poor and marginalized can't afford private cars, skyrocketing insurance premiums, fuel prices, traffic fines or repairs. The inner cities are already ghettos of high-rise wealthy and burn-out poor, and it's not getting any better. Improve public transit. Improve housing. Whatever it takes. This is not down to who drives: people adjust to whatever conditions they're presented.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
[taxi services, airports and municipalities will have on-demand autonomous ride service at reasonable rates.]
More likely that the extra choices to be made available to the wealthy will be denied to the very people most needing a choice.
There are fewer and fewer wealthy, and they already have infinite choice. They won't make the transition worthwhile; it will only be cost-effective if it serves enough people.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
My city is currently being organised by market forces, aided (rather than regulated) by dodgy government,
No. Those are the pressures on organization. The actual organizing is done by civil servants - who mostly take public transit or drive to work.
In the context of rapid population growth coupled with increasing urbanisation, what cities "will need to do" is to expel most of their populations, so that those who remain can continue to enjoy their planet-wrecking lifestyles.
Depopulating the cities would accomplish two outcomes: reduce the tax-base to nearly nothing and create huge headaches in terms of restructuring for the benefit of people who don't pay for their infrastructure.
The proles outside the wall will have to make their own arrangements.
In my experience, the walled communities are not downtown; downtown is where the proles are.
Alias wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:02 pm
[There always should have been better oversight of manufacturing in general.]
Well this is precisely the kind of thing we will hear in the future, in discussions about how well we implemented the wonderful technologies made available, and how we should have considered the social dimensions of what we have done.
Why should it be any different all of a sudden?
Blaming the robot cars for the fatal flaws of capitalism in misleading news articles isn't going to improve bad urban planning or reduce inequity.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Eduk » April 14th, 2018, 3:36 am

Robert I was pointing out the imposibility of changing my mind with reason. You can draw your own conclusions as to why I would do such a thing, not that you need me to tell you that.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Robert66 » April 14th, 2018, 6:16 pm

Eduk wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 3:36 am
Robert I was pointing out the imposibility of changing my mind with reason. You can draw your own conclusions as to why I would do such a thing, not that you need me to tell you that.
Now I get it - you are a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma! Best wishes to you.

Actually Alias has managed to change my mind with reason. I can see that my position on AVs is extreme and very pessimistic. I remain concerned however about the way technology is rolled out. A quote (don't know by who) comes to mind: 'The future is already here, its just unevenly distributed'. A lot of technology seems to be used against the poor rather than for them, and inequality does appear to be growing, especially in wealthy nations like Australia which could actually reverse the trend if the political will to do so existed.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Eduk » April 14th, 2018, 6:34 pm

Oh that seems to rather fly in the face of your previous comments. Anyway that's good.
The exploitable have always been exploited by anyone willing and capable. Life in the UK is vastly better and, I would argue, more equal than it has ever been. Personally I would give a lot of the credit to technology. But that would make for a whole new subject of its own.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Alias » April 14th, 2018, 8:44 pm

Robert66 wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 6:16 pm
Actually Alias has managed to change my mind with reason. I can see that my position on AVs is extreme and very pessimistic.
Oh, I wouldn't want to take the pessimism away! It's our best defence.
I remain concerned however about the way technology is rolled out.
That's perfectly reasonable. Concern is good. Expressing concern, especially where the new technology is still vulnerable; expressing it in forceful and influential ways is also good. Just try to be fair and constructive in your criticism.
At the same time, you have to be aware that nothing remains the same for very long.
Change can't be stopped, but it might be de-fanged.
'The future is already here, its just unevenly distributed'.
William Gibson, in Neuromancer , but it was already true in The Difference Engine. In fact, it's always true.
But then, what isn't unevenly distributed? Still, indoor plumbing, toothpaste, subways trains, cement construction and the Polio vaccine eventually did benefit the masses.
Some very good work is being done by progressive, humanity-oriented individuals, institutions and organizations. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/kal ... -1.3698004 https://www.cnn.com/2016/05/09/africa/w ... index.html
A lot of technology seems to be used against the poor rather than for them, and inequality does appear to be growing, especially in wealthy nations like Australia which could actually reverse the trend if the political will to do so existed.
That's not a result of technology; that's an inherent characteristic of civilization - of the stratified, hierarchical structure of society.
Some might argue that technology is a result of civilization or even of capitalism. They're wrong: invention doesn't come from a profit motive or competition; it's just what we do. This is a tinkering species that can't leave well enough alone.

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Re: Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Post by Alias » April 14th, 2018, 8:49 pm

PS Gibson is my favourite living author, and the quote as recorded in the Google thumbnail reads
The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.
Most up-beat and funniest book: Spook Country

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