Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Let's Fix It: Lets End Human Driving!"

Behold, the real push behind robot cars. Liberals with a tech fetish. Sam Shank is the CEO and Co-Founder of HotelTonight, and obviously an uber tech geek and liberal.

I've long been fascinated by the idea of technology replacing human drivers.

Let's be honest: people aren't always great drivers. They get distracted, tired and make mistakes. Technology can simply do a better job. This is a subject I've thought about deeply for the past 20 years. I believe it will have as much impact on the world as the switch from horse transport to automobiles.

The consensus opinion is that safe and reliable driverless cars will be available within a few years. Tesla just announced "Autopilot," which will be available soon via a software update, and will allow for autonomous driving on freeways – an amazing first step.

Here's what I think will happen next: the initial use of drive-anywhere autonomous cars (I call them AutoCars) will be with companies like Uber or Lyft rather than individually owned. They will rapidly gain acceptance because they'll save people time (imagine all you could do with that time currently spent behind the wheel), will lower the costs of getting from one place to another, and will be way faster while also being safer than human driving.

Here's what I think will happen. A bunch of big tech companies like Google and Apple etc. will get their buddies in the various legislatures to get them a Special Deal indemnifying them against fault when robot cars inevitably crash and kill people.

Which the robot cars will then do, a lot. Because, among other things, every cabbie, truck driver, delivery guy and union thug alive will be out to kill those things like you won't believe.

Also because the technology these things run on is extremely complicated and not particularly well understood. Similar to the situation at the beginning of the last century, when automobiles were cranky, unpredictable and dangerous machines no one understood. Just for comparison, by the year 1900 automobile technology had been around almost a hundred years. It does give one pause to think of it.

 It's 1896 and Mr. Shank would like to replace all the horses out there with Benz Motorwagens. Surely nothing bad could happen, right?

But Mr. Phantom sir, what about the consensus opinion?!!!!  Who are you, a mere schlub, to question the consensus opinion? Hmmm?

Well, lets talk about the consensus opinion. When faced with a consensus opinion, where experts tell you "Trust us, we know what we're talking about, we're the experts", it is always useful to do what I like to call the External Reality Check.

In External Reality, as in the big wide world, you know what I don't see these days? I don't see robot wheelchairs. I do not see commonly available, reasonably affordable self-guided machines being used to scoot sick people around hospitals, nursing homes, or on their own errands out in the outdoors. I see very expensive Human nurses pushing those people around in manual chairs, at who knows how many billions a year in lost productivity.

You know what else I don't see? Robot forklifts. I do not see self-guided, driverless forklifts whipping around in lumber yards, factories and warehouses. I see normal forklifts driven by very expensive union thugs, at a cost of who knows how many billions a year.

If there was an affordable technology available to drive a 2000lb car with four people in it down a road at 50 mph with zero failures, don't you think there'd be technology to drive a 200lb wheelchair with one person in it at 5 mph down the straight, flat, smooth hallway of an office building or a hospital?

Thus do I question consensus.

The Questioning Phantom


Anonymous said...

I tend to agree, but let's go a bit further.

The people who are pushing this stuff are utopian statists, the same ones who want a Uncle Sugar to cough up a hundred billion dollars for a "light rail" system between every two podunk college towns.

They're the same ones who push for "urban green space" and "downtown development zones" with no publicly accessible parking, to keep those dirty townie Untermenschen and their dirty, carbon-belching pickup trucks out of their pristine college campus neighborhoods.

They're the ones pushing hard for "sustainability," by which they seem to mean total depopulation of those pesky rural "red states" and packing the nation's entire population into tiny apartments in rat-hive mega-cities, which will presumably get their food and water and electrical power by magic, and in which those filthy subhuman rednecks will no longer be able to own guns, or home-school their children, or attend churches that don't approve of homosexual pedophilia with sufficient enthusiasm.

These people really, really don't like the automobile. They don't like it when the hoi polloi have freedom of movement. They look with great approval upon people who live all their lives in Manhattan, never going more than ten miles from their tiny apartments from birth until death ("why ja wanna go somewhere else? dis is Noo Yawk, we got ebbyfhing heah!") like peasants out of the Dark Ages. They desperately desire the power to hold everyone else at gunpoint and force everyone to move into the cities and ride bicycles back and forth to work, and use a government train system that will track their movements every moment of their lives if indeed they are allowed to travel at all ("Papers please!"). They hate people who want to move freely, who want to escape the unblinking panopticon eye of Vaterlandgesicherheitsdienst even for an instant.

So--any bets on whether these "self-driving robot cars" are going to become mandatory? Any bets on whether they're also going to have a government kill-switch built in? ("Go out of town? No, Citizen, you don't need to go out of town." "Highway access is cancelled for the balance of the month due to excessive carbon footprint levels and extreme danger of 'terrorism.' Go back to your apartments and await further instructions from MINITRU.")

Alyric said...

Great post, Phantom - probably the best I've seen on the subject.

Sadly, that's partially because so few are expressing concern about it.

And once the statists have their hands on the technology, they will undoubtedly implement everything mentioned in the post above me. The ability to cram the population into little cities and prevent them from leaving? That's been their dream for decades.

I know it's sad, but a small part of my mind just pitched in with: "Well, if Ebola or antibiotic-resistant TB runs through the major cities before then, people are going to be wary of large population centers for decades."

The Phantom said...

Greetings gents.

Agree with everything you've both said.

Consider the following: How useful would it have been to police yesterday if they could have entered a code at headquarters yesterday and immobilized every car in Ottawa? You can see them totally going for that, right? It wouldn't really change the outcome at all, but it would make things so much easier during the Official After Action Clearing and the Official Checking Everything Out To Make Sure Its All Good.

You can see them today loving the idea of an invisible fence that won't let any car drive up onto the Parliament Hill grounds. Even better, a system that won't let you drive up there, but if you try anyway it locks the car doors and drives you to the armored police station instead.

You can see them salivating over the idea of a system that identifies every individual driving a car by biometrics, then reports their position constantly. Then locks the car doors and drives to the cop shop if a particular code gets entered, allowing all the shooter's family and associates to be effortlessly gathered in.

These are the kind of things that give government officials a major woodie. So easy! Just press a button and the guy you want to pick up gets delivered to you. Using HIS car and burning HIS gas to boot.

What would have CHANGED the outcome yesterday? There's a picture of Cpl. Cirillo after he got shot, with two middle aged ladies and the ambulance crew working on him. Those ladies, given half a chance, would have killed that shooter guy in a heartbeat. If they had guns on them, and they knew it was their responsibility as Canadians to protect that kid when he couldn't protect himself, they'd have waxed that prick before he got five steps from the shooting site. And ShooterBoy would KNOW that. He would chose some other form of self expression than an attempted mass shooting.

That kind of thing gives government officials cold sweats and nightmares. People they can't control wandering around loose? Aieeee!

This is why we will get robot cars and more gun control unless we defund and disempower the government.

This cannot be accomplished by some bullshit revolution either, it has to be a cultural shift where every Canadian stops buying the hype and starts demanding their freedom back. Loudly. Politicians need to know that if they run on robot cars and gun control they'll be out of their sinecure jobs immediately.