Driverless cars in Nevada and can we get beyond our greed?

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ReeferMadness
Driverless cars in Nevada and can we get beyond our greed?

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ReeferMadness

A seminal event has recently occurred in Nevada.  The state has written the rules to allow driverless cars.  In an era where our cities are designed around making everything convenient for automobiles, the potential ramifications could scarcely be overstated.  Drastically lowered traffic accidents and fatalities.  Potential reductions in the rate of car ownership.  Drastic reductions in insurance rates.  The loss of entire sub-industries as those who make their living driving vehicles, sanctioning bad drivers, and training drivers disappear.

This should be an enormous good-new story.  Fewer accidents.  Time currently spent driving could be used productively.  Better fuel efficiency.   But there is a dark side - a huge displacement of employment.

In the USA alone, there are 3.5 million people who earn their living driving trucks.  There are several hundred thousand more who drive taxis or limousines.  Add to that the people who license drivers, the highway patrol, car insurance sales people, and the list goes on.  If the rate of private car ownership drops then there will be an enormous ripple-effect on the automotive industry itself.

What will be interesting is how we deal with the loss of millions of jobs.  Will we accept this as an "efficiency dividend" and take an opportunity to work less?  Or will we just create more human detritrus - unemployed souls who need to now go and find some mcjob to survive?

NorthReport

Is that the trend. Certainly hope not.

i think I would prefer the following:

 

Ikea's neighbourhood in East London. Anyone heard 'bout it?

 

There was an article in the Globe today 'bout it.

 

NorthReport

What is it 'bout Scandanavia, eh! Smile

 

Welcome to Ikea-land: Furniture giant begins urban planning project

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/welcome-to-ikea-land-furnit...

 

There are feelings you get when you enter an Ikea store. The vertiginous experience of getting lost in their craftily designed labyrinth. The surprise of wandering into something you hadn’t intended to buy. The discomfiting almost-warmth of a fake apartment. The faintly reassuring sense that your children and your car are in someone else’s hands. Then the odd realization that you’re really inside a high-security structure on the distant edge of town.

Would you like to feel that way all the time? The people who run the Swedish home-furnishings behemoth are launching a bold push into the business of designing, building and operating entire urban neighbourhoods. Where once they placed a couch in a living room, the Swedes now want to place you and 6,000 neighbours into a neglected corner of your city, design an entire urban world around you, and Ikea-ize your lives. Their bold, high-concept notion of an urban ’hood could be an important solution to the housing-supply shortages that plague many large cities – but it could take some getting used to.

“We are in keeping with the Ikea philosophy: We don’t want to produce for the rich or the super-rich; we want to produce for the families, for the people,” says Harald Müller, the head of LandProp, the property-development branch of Inter IKEA, the company that invests the profits from the furnishing giant.

“Our approach must be to get the right housing and office prices while delivering very good quality at the same time, he added. “We want to be smart enough in our design that we can offer the product for a reasonable price.”

I recently made the long drive into the vanguard of Ikea’s city-building ambition, in a triangle of post-industrial wasteland surrounded by goods-shipping canals and highway ramps in the far reaches of East London, not far from the 2012 Olympics grounds. Here is the site of Ikea’s effort to bring a very Scandinavian model of urban design and managed living into the English-speaking world.

Amid this 11-hectare expanse of ancient rusting machinery, waste piles and grinding construction equipment is a converted brick sugar warehouse where a team of Swedes and Brits are poring over blueprints and renderings. LandProp Services bought the land in 2009. Their vision is to turn this grey netherworld, once planning approval is done, into a tightly packed neighbourhood they’ll call Strand East.

It will look, once complete, like a reproduction of the sort of historic, chic downtown neighbourhoods you find in the far more central parts of London or Paris, not in this distant expanse of former dockyards and bloodless public-housing project. At its core are straight, car-free streets lined with simple townhouses and ground-floor-access flats in five-storey rows. In the alleyways behind – an imitation of the classic London backstreet, the mews – will be little two- and three-storey homes, all with direct access to the street.

Fidel

What if driverless cars can be hacked?

We could drive our neighbor's car in circles and make him late for his Toastmasters meeting. Pranks-o-rama!

ReeferMadness

There's another potential future - no cars.  Thanks to peak oil.

Doug

Driverless trucks and buses are probably coming first. The same problem to solve but a bigger vehicle with more customers to carry the cost of it.

Sven Sven's picture

Doug wrote:

Driverless trucks and buses are probably coming first. The same problem to solve but a bigger vehicle with more customers to carry the cost of it.

How much extra would you pay for a self-driving car?

When self-driving cars are consistently reliable, I'd definitely pay an extra $3,000 for one.

I estimate that I drive about 425 hours per year.  Multiply that by, say six years and that's a little more than paying one dollar for an hour of being driven (time I could otherwise use reading -- or, for longer trips, taking a nap!).

Fidel

I can see it all now. Yep, there we were driving through Kicking Horse Pass with the roads all iced-up, and this driverless 18 wheeler plows right into us. We weren't even paying attention because we was playin' a word game to pass the time. I spy with my little eye ...

BLOOD ON THE ASPHALT!!

Sven Sven's picture

Fidel wrote:

I can see it all now. Yep, there we were driving through Kicking Horse Pass with the roads all iced-up, and this driverless 18 wheeler plows right into us. We weren't even paying attention because we was playin' a word game to pass the time. I spy with my little eye ...

BLOOD ON THE ASPHALT!!

Ha!  I used to camp with my folks at the Kicking Horse campground as a kid!  Love that part of the country. 

I don't think it will be long before a self-driving car will drive better than any human driver, regardless of road conditions. 

Maysie Maysie's picture

I have a better idea. Keep the driver, but make the car longer, wider, with more seats. Have lots of them, and have them on routes in and out of cities on regular schedules, picking up people and dropping them off.

Oh wait. We have that already. It's called a bus.

Laughing

Unionist

Well done, Maysie - another great idea thrown under the train.

 

Sven Sven's picture

Maysie wrote:

It's called a bus.

I like the autonomy of my own vehicle:  I can go wherever I want whenever I want. 

As to buses, I'd automate those as well. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Sven wrote:
I like the autonomy of my own vehicle:  I can go wherever I want whenever I want. 

That's the kind of selfishness that the oil and gas fascists want to promote.

Sven Sven's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

Sven wrote:
I like the autonomy of my own vehicle:  I can go wherever I want whenever I want. 

That's the kind of selfishness that the oil and gas fascists want to promote.

If wanting autonomy is selfish, then I'm selfish. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

You really don't get it, do you?

Sven Sven's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

You really don't get it, do you?

I rode busses for many, many years (I didn't get my first car until well after college). Taking the bus blows. 

I would also venture to guess that most people who take the bus for non-commuting would swap bussing it for a car in a heartbeat if they could afford a car (the GHG issue notwithstanding). In other words, if they could get a car, those people would be "selfish" too. 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Actually, it's us who don't get it, while the rest of the world already has it: The Toronto Tragedy

Quote:
Grescoe makes the argument that "every time you choose to drive you are, in a tiny way, opting out of, and diminishing, the public realm." When asked if he views transit as a way to then engage with the public realm, he agrees. "Some people will look at me askance when I say that because you have images of Toyko commuters jammed together avoiding each others eyes," but riding transit is a "reminder of the fact that we're all in this thing together and this thing is the city."

"We all slam our door on the world by getting in the car, by buying the ad line that this is bringing us freedom, by listening to Bruce Springsteen, falling in love with Jack Kerouac. Pining for escape. We're getting sucked in. It's a marketed legend now, the legend of freedom. For me, what you actually get is being stuck in gridlock on some freeway in an irrational transportation system."

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I've taken a train and a bus through Kicking Horse and driven many times but the best way to see it is on a raft.  One of the best days trips I've experienced.

 

wage zombie

Sven wrote:
I like the autonomy of my own vehicle:  I can go wherever I want whenever I want. 

Boom Boom wrote:

That's the kind of selfishness that the oil and gas fascists want to promote.

Sven wrote:

If wanting autonomy is selfish, then I'm selfish. 

How do we justify a personal autonomy that necessitates taking away the autonomy of others?

Sven Sven's picture

wage zombie wrote:

Sven wrote:
I like the autonomy of my own vehicle:  I can go wherever I want whenever I want. 

Boom Boom wrote:

That's the kind of selfishness that the oil and gas fascists want to promote.

Sven wrote:

If wanting autonomy is selfish, then I'm selfish. 

How do we justify a personal autonomy that necessitates taking away the autonomy of others?

I think it depends on what you mean by "taking away the autonomy of others".  Could you please elaborate on that?

Fidel

Sven wrote:
I rode busses for many, many years (I didn't get my first car until well after college). Taking the bus blows. 

I would also venture to guess that most people who take the bus for non-commuting would swap bussing it for a car in a heartbeat if they could afford a car (the GHG issue notwithstanding). In other words, if they could get a car, those people would be "selfish" too. 

 

I think what's silly is that guy down the street from me who gets into his Dodge Ram and then and drives his ample self a mile and half just to grab a coffee at Timmy's. I think that's totally insane. He needs the physical exercise a lot more than he needs to show off his newly washed and waxed truck to customers at Tim's. I mean really! I mean, it's not even a truck anymore. It's a computer with wheels.

Experts predict robots revolution  Will robots be as commonplace in homes as prefab furniture?

And I like riding the bus. Driving just my bad self all over in a car is somewhat anti-social, Sven. There will be an old person or someone who might need your assistance climbing on or off the bus. Or someone may just need your encouraging word. Come on!

watson

"I like the autonomy of my own vehicle:  I can go wherever I want whenever I want."

me too.

I ride a bicycle :)

Fidel

*Thumbs up*

Hey we could start a bicycle gang, watson.

Sven Sven's picture

watson wrote:

I ride a bicycle :)

I do, too!!

Although mine has a 167 HP engine strapped to it...  :)

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I would heartily suggest babblers ignore Sven's adorable baiting and get on with the actual discussion.

Sven Sven's picture

Indeed. 

Back to the OP:

ReeferMadness wrote:

But there is a dark side - a huge displacement of employment.

In the USA alone, there are 3.5 million people who earn their living driving trucks.  There are several hundred thousand more who drive taxis or limousines.  Add to that the people who license drivers, the highway patrol, car insurance sales people, and the list goes on.  If the rate of private car ownership drops then there will be an enormous ripple-effect on the automotive industry itself.

Not too long ago, about 50% of the population of North America was engaged in the production of food. Mechanization has introduced huge efficiencies to food production so that now only a mere 2% of the population needs to farm, which frees up people to produce a vast array of other products and services that we enjoy.  Bemoaning the lose of jobs for drivers and "people who license drivers, the highway patrol, car insurance sales people," etc. is like wringing our hands because there aren't more people strapped to the back of wooden plows being pulled by teams of horses like in "the good ol' days"...

Fidel

John Dulchinos says robots are not the enemy. It's low cost labour that's the enemy.

John Dulchinos wrote:
If you want to look at where jobs are going, it's not robots taking people's jobs; it's entire companies and industries moving overseas. Robots elicit an emotional response from people because they are personified as people, but really what robots do is they enhance productivity and they free people up to do other tasks. In a global economy where cost rules, the only way for Western countries to be able to compete effectively against low-cost labor markets is through productivity gains, and robots are one way to achieve that.

I suppose, though, that low cost labour might think robots are their enemy. But we are not the enemy of low cost labour and vice versa. Not really. The enemies of labour are the usual enemies. And I think we should cut robots a break. Robots may need our help to organize themselves in the future. We should ally ourselves with robots against the usual enemies of labour.

Sven Sven's picture

Fidel: "Robots of the world........UNITE!!!!"

Sven Sven's picture

If it is so important to keep millions of paid drivers on the road, rather than turning over that relatively mundane task to technology, then maybe we should cut the size of busses and trucks in half, increase the number of vehicles on the road by 100% (to maintain current aggregate carrying capacity), and...voila!!...we instantly double the number of jobs for drivers!!!

That kind of thinking was illustrated by George Will who said: 

Milton Friedman was an Asian country where the government was extremely eager to show off a public works project of which it was inordinately and excessively fond. It was digging a canal. They took Milton out to see this, and he was astonished because there were hordes of workers but no heavy equipment. He remarked on this to his government guide, who replied, "You don't understand, Mr. Friedman. This is a jobs program. That's why we only have men with shovels." To which Friedman said, "Well, if it's a jobs program, why don't they have spoons instead of shovels?"

Indeed. 

I say: "More drivers...and spoons!"

Fidel

What we need is an international trade deal for workers and the environment to level the playing field. Robots could be our friends but never fascists.

It's still workers versus parasites, Sven.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Milton Friedman's ideology has murdered millions.

Sven Sven's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Milton Friedman's ideology has murdered millions.

I'll put you down as being "for spoons"...

Fidel

A car with no driver? Want to test-drive one, really

Detroit Free Press wrote:
Soon you might be able to do a lot more than just Google a driverless car. You may able to drive one, too.

Google's engineers are inching closer to making the vehicle commercially viable. Part of that process requires discussing the costs of insuring it.

"I think it's time for us to break that cycle and actually bring them to market sooner," said Anthony Levandowski, product manager for the self-driving car. He spoke to the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress Wednesday at Cobo Center. "I don't think we need to wait 10 years for the next model or body styles to come out to build this technology."

SAE, those guys who rate viscosity of your car oil.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Sven wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Milton Friedman's ideology has murdered millions.

I'll put you down as being "for spoons"...

No, you put me down for daring to state the truth. You seem to confuse state control of the unemployed and public work projects. 

In Canada in the Dirty Thirties we had vagrancy laws and if you didn't have a residence in the city you were trying to find a job in you were shipped off to a remote camp to build "Roads to Nowhere."   The purpose was not to build roads but to control the unemployed for the benefit of the 1%.  It was the response to movements like the On to Ottawa Trek not an attempt to build infrastructure.

sknguy II

Boom Boom wrote:

You really don't get it, do you?

That's just the kind of consumer they're looking for though isn't it? You know, I wonder if they'll have grocery pick-up apps in both iOS and Android?

Fidel

This could also have been posted in the ethics for killer robots forum. But since we're here, and since automation affects yet another sector of the economy, transportation...

[url=">http://www.technologyreview.com/review/426436/tectonic-shifts-in-employm..."Tectonic Shifts" in Employment[/url] Information technology is reducing the need for certain jobs faster than new ones are being created.

The one percenters have been at it again. 

The solutions are imo, public investments in education. And not just more money for teachers and per student funding but sweeping changes to secondary and post-secondary ed. It's obsolete already.

We also need free labour markets and a kind of NAFTA trade deal for workers the world over in order to level the playing field. Fascists will fight hard against free labour markets and the right to education and re-training for workers, but we have to keep up the pressure. And as the MIT article says, green sector jobs alone will probably not put so much as a dent in unemployment. We need to fight for labour rights as usual. We need to fight for labour rights until they are widely accepted. And then we shall defend those rights from generation to generation.

 

ReeferMadness

Sven wrote:

Doug wrote:

Driverless trucks and buses are probably coming first. The same problem to solve but a bigger vehicle with more customers to carry the cost of it.

How much extra would you pay for a self-driving car?

When self-driving cars are consistently reliable, I'd definitely pay an extra $3,000 for one.

I estimate that I drive about 425 hours per year.  Multiply that by, say six years and that's a little more than paying one dollar for an hour of being driven (time I could otherwise use reading -- or, for longer trips, taking a nap!).

Interesting.  I wonder about the parameters of the study.

I would think that there is a huge market for self-driving cars just around the corner.  Baby boomers will soon be entering the years when they will be losing their driving privileges because of medical reasons.  Unlike depression era seniors who will adopt a stiff upper lip and wait for their kids to drive them, boomers will demand their mobility.  And they won't be afraid to put their lives in the hands of technology.  Amd. most importantly for trends, if the baby boomers adopt this technology, they will have the numbers to make it acceptable for the mainstream.

Once the insurance companies, get comfortable with the technology, look out.  Rates will plummet for driverless cars because most accidents are the result of inattentive, careless, or stupid drivers.  Once that happens there will be a mad rush for the technology.  Paying an extra $3000 for a car isn't much if you save $500 per year on insurance.  And the cost will drop as economies of scale kick in.  Technology will have far better reflexes than humans.  And automated cars can communicate their intentions to one another electronically, instantly.  If all cars were self-driving, speed limits could rise and so could vehicle densities.  It's not difficult to envision a not-too-distant future where human drivers are not allowed on public highways.

 

 

 

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Self driving cars will be controlled by computer software and networked via wireless networks.

But who will control that software?    Will it be you?   Or will it be Toyota, the Big Three, Microsoft, Apple or Google?

What if the software has a back door so that it plans a route designed to pass certain fast food restaurants so that your kids will bug you to take them there?

Or maybe it'll be designed so that you only pass a certain corporation's gasoline station (or with luck battery charging/swapping station).

What mapping software will your self-driving car make use of?  Will it be Google Maps?, Mapquest?  Microsoft Bing Maps?  ... or Open Street Maps?   Will you have a choice?

What if a government planted a back door in your self-driving car's software that they could trigger remotely to prevent you from driving your car in the direction of a certain protest march?

Or maybe your self-driving car just has garden variety buggy software...because all software has bugs.

In any case, you would need to have a "kill switch" so that you could stop your self-driving car's software from doing things that you don't want it to do...like driving off a cliff.

Cory Doctorow talks about this and other related issues in this talk (surprisingly at Google) "The Coming Civil War Over General Purpose Computing"

It's well worth a listen.