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Thread: Self-Driving Cars Can't See Black

  1. #36
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I think this is one of those red herrings you like to point out.

    The only ethical mission a car design could reasonably be expected to have is to save its occupants. It would get impossibly complex expecting the car to be aware of all possible outcomes in every situation. If the choice is to ram a small car to the side to avoid ramming a school bus ahead, how does our car know if the school bus is full of kids or just a driver? Even if it could count the kids, would it be able to determine that hitting the big high-sitting school bus would likely be less threatening to those kids on board than ramming the small car would be to its occupant. I can see a pedestrian and make a judgement, but would the car be able to tell the difference between a young healthy college kid who might leap out of the way versus an old lame person? Can we reasonably expect the car to muse whether it prefers many injured school kids or one dead driver?

    The car cannot be second guessing itself, it has the primary mission of providing safety to its own occupants.
    With enough self-driving cars out there that scenario might never happen... there would be no decision to make as to which vehicle to run into.

    Which brings up a new issue to this thread: many new cars have all sorts of devices which make driving much safer, like automatic proximity detection to help keep you from hitting the car in front of you. (Question: does that system apply the brakes itself or just alert the driver to apply the brakes? In the first case that would be a limited application of self-driving, correct?)

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A. View Post
    Yes, I consider YouTube videos published by an ultra-conservative organization like PragerU*** to be an excellent source of unbiased information... NOT!
    I don't really care whether James Damore got his message out using PragerU or the Washington Post as a conduit. What matters to me about this is how the company treated the guy, who appears to have been genuinely concerned about making Google a better workplace environment for both himself and his co-workers, and got squashed in the process by a company that doesn't tolerate anything other than their sanctioned way of thinking. It's unfortunate that a company that treats its workers this way appears to be treating their customers (you and me) the same way as well.

    It's also unfortunate that there are people who want to leftify and alt-rightify everything int he world, including this guy's predicament. I'm quite tired of hearing the ideological extreme views get pontificated over and over again, especially when they do nothing to get to the facts of the situation.

    Rather than reading leftwing or rightwing interpretations of what the guy intended to do, why not listen to the guy himself, and get the direct scoop without having someone else filter the news for you? Here's an interview with James Damore where he speaks his heart. Listen to what he has to say and decide for yourself, rather than just repeating what you read somewhere. It's a long video. You'll need 90 minutes to watch it. Chances are most people would rather read an opinionated 5 minute summary from their favorite politically biased news outlet.



    Disclaimer: I have no idea who "The Rubin Report" is and I have no political affiliation, but I think the interviewer did a pretty good job of keeping his views out of the interview and just letting Damore speak his mind.

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  3. #38
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bob p
    ethical dilemmas that they thought would come with self-driving cars.
    I think this is one of those red herrings you like to point out.

    The only ethical mission a car design could reasonably be expected to have is to save its occupants.* It would get impossibly complex expecting the car to be aware of all possible outcomes in every situation.* If the choice is to ram a small car to the side to avoid ramming a school bus ahead, how does our car know if the school bus is full of kids or just a driver?* Even if it could count the kids, would it be able to determine that hitting the big high-sitting school bus would likely be less threatening to those kids on board than ramming the small car would be to its occupant.* I can see a pedestrian and make a judgement, but would the car be able to tell the difference between a young healthy college kid who might leap out of the way versus an old lame person?* Can we reasonably expect the car to muse whether it prefers many injured school kids or one dead driver?

    The car cannot be second guessing itself, it has the primary mission of providing safety to its own occupants.
    With enough self-driving cars out there that scenario might never happen... there might be no need to make the decision as to which vehicle to run into.

    Which brings up a new issue to this thread: many new cars have all sorts of devices which make driving much safer, like automatic proximity detection to help keep you from hitting the car in front of you. (Question: does that system apply the brakes itself or just alert the driver to apply the brakes? In the first case that would be a limited application of self-driving, correct?)


    Steve A.

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  4. #39
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    The car cannot be second guessing itself, it has the primary mission of providing safety to its own occupants.
    I like the way you think. Cars should be designed that way. I'm all for taking out the young mother pushing the baby carriage to protect the car's occupant. For some reason, I don't think cars will end up being like that in the future. As the design of autonomous vehicles continues to evolve their decision making will become more complex. Eventually the algorithms will involve more complicated decision making than they're capable of making now. Eventually cars will be able to communicate with one another, and cars will know if that school bus is full or empty. There's no reason to deny that that kind of information will be utilized in the future... unless we're only interested in having a short-term discussion.

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    Now, Bob, I know you are exercising sarcasm here, even without the proper emoji. I thank my human brain for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I like the way you think. Cars should be designed that way. I'm all for taking out the young mother pushing the baby carriage to protect the car's occupant.
    However, "this", above, is exactly how cars are designed today. Safety features for the occupants, and none for pedestrians or other obstacles. I think we need a paradigm shift in how we view cars and other rapid transit vehicles. Why even allow cars anywhere near schoolkids or young mothers? Why have them at all except to take them to the cruise-in (parked) or to the speedway (closed course).

    Let's find something safer, more energy-efficient, and less of a burden on the lowest-wage-earning among us. My son works at a restaurant on the other side of town (Toledo OH, a small city compared to many) and gas alone may run him $4 or $5 a day. Add that to insurance and upkeep, and the auto culture is more an albatross around his neck than a symbol of freedom. So I agree with you; I don't think self-driving cars are the solution. I don't think any kind of autonomous minimal-passenger vehicle is a good idea, unless it's pedal-powered.

    [RANT] I lived for a few months in a village outside of Cologne, (formerly West) Germany. It was easy enough to walk to the bus station take that to the mall, transfer to the train station in the basement of the shopping center, and get into the city that way. There was something appealing and creative about the mash-up of mall and train station. I imagine the overall capital expense was lower than building each separately, and the valuable farmland saved was a bonus. Contrast that with here in Ohio, where the rich soil is still being torn up and paved over to make more indoor soccer domes and shopping centers while the decay of the old abandoned retail areas sits unproductive. Why are we still so blind as to think that converting natural resources into landfill waste at ever-increasing rates is somehow equivalent to creating wealth? D@mn humans. Stupid creatures. [/RANT]

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  6. #41
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I agree that it doesn't make economic sense for low-wage people to have to spend a disproportionate amount of their income on transportation. In that context car ownership doesn't make sense, and ride sharing tends to make more sense, and public transportation makes even more sense -- but I think those things that make sense amount to rationalizing the best solution to a flawed premise -- that it makes sense for a population to commute in randomized directions.

    Historically, that's not the way it worked in America. In the old days people lived in neighborhoods where they worked, and if they didn't, they didn't have to commute very far to get to their job. When people had to commute a long distance they typically did so in a synchronous way, like when people in suburbs would commute to cities by train.

    Things are very different today. Individualized transportation only began to flourish in the Post WWII economic boom. As a result today most people commute rather than living in the neighborhood of their work place. Because all of this commuting is "disorganized" on a large scale, people commute in different directions. That asynchronous transportation requirement led to the state where everyone had to have their own transpiration, and things eventually evolved into a 1:1 ratio of cars to people. The US was able to tolerate that paradigm because it was a wealthy nation. Now the wealth is being extracted from America the wages of the lower and middle class have had trouble keeping up with real inflation and the commuting paradigm is becoming more difficult to support. Commuting has become prohibitively expensive for many, and people are now searching for more economical solutions to commuting; but that ignores the basic problem.

    The fundamental problem is that commuting by any means is an expensive proposition. Transporting people is an energy intensive process and there are cases where it makes economic sense and there are cases where it doesn't. To make commuting (and all of the costs associated with it) economically feasible requires a good paying job. Unfortunately, as the work environment leads to fewer high paying jobs and more jobs that pay less, the economic squeeze gets tighter and tighter. Eventually people are going to have to realize to realize that commuting doesn't make sense for everyone, but that's a tough sell.

    People do like to feel independent. In some respects we have to consider that having everyone commute (and own a car to do it) doesn't necessarily make sense. In the era of the Greatest Generation the type of commuting that we have today would have been unfathomable. Commuting became more common because our society had an excess supply of resources to support it. Now that economics are getting tighter and more people are beginning to become receptive to considering the environmental impact of their lifestyle, maybe we should reconsider whether having everyone commute is such a good idea. If we really want to help the environment, the answer isn't so much in changing the types of cars that we have, as much as it is alleviating peoples' needs to use them.

    As an anecdotal example (Enzo might call this a red herring), I have a friend who lives 90-minutes away from his job, and insists on living outside of the city in a remote bedroom community. He commutes every day, and brags about being environmentally conscious because he drives a subcompact car that has a low impact on the environment. One of his co-workers lives in the city and drives a pickup truck. While the guy who lives in the bedroom community likes to think that he's green because he drives a small car, his adverse impact on the environment is larger than the guy who owns the pickup, because he commutes every day while the other guy does not. Of course, he preaches about being holier than thou to the guy who owns the truck, and he's not receptive to hearing about otherwise. He's done what he thinks is enough when it comes to being green, and he's reluctant to recognize that commuting is in and of itself an environmentally hostile act.

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  7. #42
    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    I live close enough to my day job that I have thought about bicycling to work. Unfortunately, the suburban/rural mashup of roads between here and there combine high speed traffic and no sidewalks - and for the last 1/2mi stretch no berm between the road and the drainage ditch! Biking would be suicide with all the crazies on the road, unless I can stay ahead of them at 50MPH. I have had in the back of my head a design for an electric car (more like a horseless carriage!). One thing about here in NW Ohio, the flat flat flat land makes power requirements minimal for the kind of 'neighborhood electric vehicle' I have in mind. For travel on a flat road, the only 'real' obstacle to motion is wind resistance. I read somewhere that friction due to wind resistance is proportional to the cube of the speed. I have a spreadsheet somewhere that I figured out 'typical' HP/Wattage needs based on speed and cross-section. On the highway, cars are burning MOST of the fuel just for speed! On an incline things change dramatically. The potential energy needed to over come an elevation difference can easily swamp any other effect (just ask anyone who's ever ridden a bike).

    The community I travel through to get to work recently changed the residential street speed limit from 25MPH to 35MPH. It seems ludicrous to me, especially with I-75 literally in the backyards of these neighborhoods. Is this lust for speed - at all levels - happening all over? Or am I being over-sensitive?

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  8. #43
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I think the lust for speed is happening all over. In my neighborhood I see people speeding like they're going somewhere in an emergency, even when they aren't in going anywhere important. It's just a habit. People are accustomed to driving with a leadfoot, but at the same time they complain about what it costs to pay for gas. That's never made sense to me. When gas went up to $4/gallon people bitched and bitched and bitched ... but they still drove with a leadfoot.

    I get the impression that fuel conservation isn't on anybody's mind. I can't tell you how many people get pissed off as they tailgate me, because I drive the speed limit and they want to go faster. When a stoplight turns green the guy behind me is honking by the time that I've depressed the clutch and started moving the shift lever. I often wonder why everyone seems to be in such a rush. It's not as if getting to your destination 2 minutes sooner is going to have any major impact on your life.

    My hat is off to you if you've considered riding a bike. Or a motorbike.


    Wind resistance also has a lot to do with the frontal cross sectional area of the vehicle. I think it's a squared function relating to the cross sectional area, but I'm not sure about that. Overall, the big problem (as you know) is drag. Drag depends on cross sectional area and speed. Then there are frictional losses but those hardly compare to drag. It's a big deal. As you know, the major ways to reduce fuel consumption are to drive a more sleek vehicle and to slow down.

    The last time that I drove through rural OH I was in Amish country. I saw horse drawn carriages. It's doesn't get much greener than that.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Bicycles are real efficient, but here in Michigan, they become a non issue in all those months where the roads are snow and ice covered. SO even if the guy saves the environment half a year, he STILL has to use powered vehicles of some sort the rest of the year. Unless he moves in and out of town with the seasons. And it is tough to transport a family on one. You can get a little bike trailer, but then you need to be even more vigilant threading the minefield of sharing the road with cars.

    The big trend in the area these days is "mixed use". They tear down old buildings and put up mixed-uses in their place. You know, three to six floors tall residential above unrented retail space at ground level. AVAILABLE!!! (And of course right next to the street -
    lets make every street a cement canyon) The townies claim it is real efficient, you can walk downstairs to work. Well you could if all your jobs were in those little retail shops. It just isn't all as simple as that. The guy in the suburbs is not going to move downtown just so he can drive a gas waster.. He is comparing his ecological footprint with his neighbor, not the guy downtown. Downtown guy may use less fuel, but he pays higher costs for parking his truck, for buying food and sundries at downtown markets. Higher insurance, and so on. And money is from income, and that is ultimately tied to energy use in some fashion.

    Speed limits are an interesting thing. We had a local artery a few years back the state wanted to raise the speed from 35 to 45. Locals howled. But studies showed that when the limit was 35, MANY cars flew by at 50. Now at 45, cars are actually averaging closer to 45. The studies also show in general if you put speed limits at what people consider reasonable, people will drive them. Like who ever actually obeys those 8MPH speed limit signs in apartment complexes?

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  10. #45
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I think those 8 mph signs in apartment complexes are more of a suggestion rather than a law. AFAIK the States don't get to regulate speeds on private property, only on public thoroughfares.

    I recently talked to a friend of mine who works in one of the big publicly traded companies that is working on self-driving cars. His job isn't in self-driving cars (he's in a different part of the very big company) but he normally interacts with the autonomous car people, goes to their lectures, and stuff like that.

    He described to me how the self-driving car logic is actually intended to work. The computer that's in charge of the car is actually several different computers working together. It's a sophisticated system that's designed to ISO standards, which requires that there is a third party oversight computer that monitors the car's main computer to determine if it's making an error, and to interrupt the main CPU in that sort of situation.

    For demonstrating the main CPU they have a human interface (monitor) that displays what the computer is doing in terms that people can understand. As the car drives down the road the visual recognition logic assigns "containers" to every object that it identifies. If the car spots a garbage can on the side of the road, a balloon pops up that identifies the garbage can as a garbage can, and places it into a container with a garbage can container on it. Then, once the appropriate container has been assigned to the object, a set of container-based rules is applied to a very large rule matrix.

    The process is very similar to how The Terminator in the Arnold Braunschweiger movies would identify a threat; this scene demonstrates the Terminator assigning "containers" to objects that it encounters:



    What's interesting is that each container has logical rules associated with it, and the way that machine learning works, it analyzes millions of data points in the huge matrix, and it makes decisions based upon correlations with matrices that have been approved in the past. The process of sorting through the millions of data points in the matrices is so complicated that no human can understand exactly how or why the computer makes the decisions that it does. With machine learning, we just have to learn to trust the machine to make the right decision. (!)

    The car guys ran into a problem, where the self-driving car would habitually steer to one side of the lane, preferentially hanging over the white line on the roadway. Machine learning working the way it does, there was no way to determine why this was happening. The computer had decided for some reason that it's approval matrices made that default behavior desirable and nobody could understand why. They looked into the problem for months and never found an answer... until somebody got a ride home from one of the guys who had been working on the project. That guy was one of the drivers who "trained" the computer how to drive based upon mimicking his driving style, and he liked to overhang the lane marker.

    Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    It's going to be a bright future.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I just saw a Cadillac ad on TV last night, I forget what model. It was touting their new semi-autonomous driving. It showed a guy driving down the interstate at 70 with no hands on the steering. He was holding a soda in one hand and something else in the other. So they don't have door to door yet, but they are now selling a car that will drive itself down the freeway.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I've seen some youtube videos of people doing some incredibly stupid things in cars that have auto-pilot. Like reading a book while the car passes a semi on a snow-covered highway. Or a guy sitting in the passenger seat reading a book while the car drives down the road with nobody in the driver's seat to take over if the computer borks. The absolute worst case was a video where a guy and a gal were in the back seat while the car drove down the highway.

    All of this reminds me of the story about the Navy Seal in a Tesla that drove right into the side of a tractor trailer because it couldn't distinguish the white trailer from the bright sky, and the Tesla drove into the side of the truck at full speed.

    They have systems that drive down the freeway just fine ... until they don't.

    What people fail to realize is that there is an oversight computer that monitors the decisions being made by the main driving computer. When it senses the main computer as having made a mistake, it voids the main computer's control over the system, disconnects the auto-pilot and provides an immediate hand-off to the driver. You'd better be in the driver's seat, paying attention when that happens.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    How about an analogy? As a house painter I have to use ladders. I do have some degree of acrophobia. I have learned to control it, mostly. On ladders to 32' I'm alright and can stay cool and clear headed. Scaffolding is ok too. Things like swing staging or ladder jacks with planks are entirely out though because they're not "fixed" to anything. And neither are standard ladders, but "I" set the thing up and stabilize it and "I" control the balance point. I can't do swing or jacks even ten feet up without anxiety. I think this distinction is characteristic of many people and would account for why we don't have driverless cars yet. Not for me baby. No way. Not unless it's on a rail, in a slot or some other physical insurance against catastrophe. I never want to be out of control in an environment of potentially fatal circumstances.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention boom and scissor lifts. Sort of ok with those. They can even be fun. But I'm much more likely to wuss out with the basket at far extension rolling over tilted ground. I've been chided for dropping the basket before moving over uneven ground. I mean, has anyone ever driven a boom at "this" extension over "this" uneven ground? There's the potential for a balance/ballast mistake that I don't want to participate in. Same with driverless cars.

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    Last edited by Chuck H; 02-24-2018 at 02:31 PM.
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I'm like you, Chuck. I want to be in control, and I'm not going to be willing to relinquish control to a machine. Especially given that the experts who design the machines can't even figure out how the machines are making the decisions that they are making. I just can't put faith into a system where nobody knows how it actually works. We just have to assume that the car is going to be safe in all situations because from what we've seen so far, it's behaved OK in the past. Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    How about an analogy? As a house painter I have to use ladders. I do have some degree of acrophobia. I have learned to control it, mostly. On ladders to 32' I'm alright and can stay cool and clear headed. Scaffolding is ok too. Things like swing staging or ladder jacks with planks are entirely out though because they're not "fixed" to anything. And neither are standard ladders, but "I" set the thing up and stabilize it and "I" control the balance point. I can't do swing or jacks even ten feet up without anxiety. I think this distinction is characteristic of many people and would account for why we don't have driverless cars yet. Not for me baby. No way. Not unless it's on a rail, in a slot or some other physical insurance against catastrophe. I never want to be out of control in an environment of potentially fatal circumstances.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention boom and scissor lifts. Sort of ok with those. They can even be fun. But I'm much more likely to wuss out with the basket at far extension rolling over tilted ground. I've been chided for dropping the basket before moving over uneven ground. I mean, has anyone ever driven a boom at "this" extension over "this" uneven ground? There's the potential for a balance/ballast mistake that I don't want to participate in. Same with driverless cars.
    I remember the first time I did ladderjacks and walkboards on 40ft ladders on Pensacola Beach hanging seamless gutters. I could not get used to the bounce and sway when you moved and the winds blowing.

    nosaj

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    The only ethical mission a car design could reasonably be expected to have is to save its occupants. It would get impossibly complex expecting the car to be aware of all possible outcomes in every situation. If the choice is to ram a small car to the side to avoid ramming a school bus ahead, how does our car know if the school bus is full of kids or just a driver? Even if it could count the kids, would it be able to determine that hitting the big high-sitting school bus would likely be less threatening to those kids on board than ramming the small car would be to its occupant. I can see a pedestrian and make a judgement, but would the car be able to tell the difference between a young healthy college kid who might leap out of the way versus an old lame person? Can we reasonably expect the car to muse whether it prefers many injured school kids or one dead driver?

    The car cannot be second guessing itself, it has the primary mission of providing safety to its own occupants.
    I asked my friend at the big tech company about this. I mentioned the BBC's documentary and the "ethical dilemma" of having the car decide who to "victimize" in an unavoidable accident. and I mentioned your premise that the only ethical mission that a car design could reasonably be expected to have was to save his occupants.

    He laughed. Then he said, "The only ethical guidelines that are built into self-driving cars is a mandate to prevent any design issues that could result in the car company getting sued."

    I asked about who the car would choose to kill in one of those unavoidable accident scenarios. "The occupants," he replied.

    No kidding.

    You see, from our perspective as SciFi fans, we adore SciFi and we look forward to living in a world that lets us be a part of the Utopian fantasy future, like Star Trek. We're sort of like idealists in that regard. We're the kind of people who like to think that in a perfect world, Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics would be programmed into any self driving car:

    Quote Originally Posted by Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
    But the reality is that because for-profit corporations are building robotic cars, they're more likely to be built according to Robocop's Prime Directives:

    Quote Originally Posted by Robocop's Prime Directives
    1. Serve the Public Trust
    2. Protect the Innocent
    3. Uphold the Law
    4. Classified
    That 4th item is the problem. Invariably, corporations plan on building products with the intent that their products won't harm their creator.



    My friend told me that in the unavoidable accident scenario, the cars will never be allowed to make decisions about who to kill, they'll just try to stop the car and if that doesn't work, the occupants get killed, problem solved, reboot. The cars will never take evasive actions to protect the occupants at the expense of an innocent third party, as that would only create liability for the car company. He further opined that if the car were to harm an innocent bystander, that person and/or their family will sue the car manufacturer. On the other hand, if the car kills it's passengers, it effectively eliminates the people most likely to file a lawsuit against the company. I thought it was ironic that the people at the company who builds these things think that way. They definitely don't share the childlike SciFi fantasy of a Utopian future. They're more worried about CYA than anything Utopian.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    I remember the first time I did ladderjacks and walkboards on 40ft ladders on Pensacola Beach hanging seamless gutters. I could not get used to the bounce and sway when you moved and the winds blowing.

    nosaj
    Where's the "don't like" tag? I'd have to keep spare underwear in the truck

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Where's the "don't like" tag? I'd have to keep spare underwear in the truck
    Why, what could possibly go wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    ...self-driving cars...sensors on those cars failing to accurately identify cars that are painted with black paint.
    Apparently they don't see white too well either. Joshua Brown died because of combination of his own stupidity, and the failure of Tesla's "Autopilot" to see a white truck crossing the road in front of the car against a bright sky:

    Tesla wrote in a blog post after the crash that the Autopilot system did not notice "the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."
    If you want to read the full context, that quote was taken from here: Tesla Autopilot played a role in fatal crash: NTSB - Business Insider

    It's not just a matter of white paint, or black paint, or dirty cars. What happens when you drive through a mud puddle (or go through a carwash), and a couple of the sensors in your self-driving car become blinded by mud or confused by moisture? What happens if one of the cost-engineered sensors fail while the car is on autopilot? What happens if the car experiences a simple mechanical failure - say one of the balljoints that hold the front wheels onto the control arms fails - while on autopilot?

    A reasonably competent human driver will find ways to minimize the extent of the damage in all of the above scenarios. I once had a front wheel fall off a car I was driving on the freeway at 65 mph; I brought it to a stable stop, driving on three tires and one brake rotor.

    A self-driving car? It won't have a clue, and will probably kill the occupant.

    As for ethical considerations made by self-driving cars, come on, people. You are vastly overestimating the capabilities of AI software. There won't be any ethical considerations. Self-driving cars are literally dumber than cockroaches (think about that for a moment.) Cockroaches don't make ethical decisions or have any self awareness. Neither do self-driving cars.

    -Gnobuddy

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I'm amazed that the NHTSA gave Tesla a pass on the Brown catastrophe, citing that Tessie's failure to apply the brake was not a safety issue because the Tesla was not designed to be "cross-traffic-aware." I imagine that people are going to run into the same problems with the new Cadillacs that Enzo was talking about.

    I think it's obvious that visual recognition is a bad paradigm for a guidance system. The military prefers radar, GPS and targeted LASER.

    With visual recognition bit depth is part of the problem, especially when you're relying upon bid depth in a single color channel (like black and white). When it comes to recognizing colors there are actually 4 channels contributing data to the image instead of one. If you're trying to recognize an object that doesn't have intense midband contribution in the RGB channels then you're left with fewer bits of data to interpret. The result is that white trucks and white sky look the same because there isn't much contrast.

    When I watch digital cable TV I see digital color banding because the cable company down-samples the number of color bits in the signal to maximize their bandwidth. The result is that different shades of white (or different shades of black) are poorly represented on-screen and typically display large blotchy color-banding. If you've ever seen this then you know what I'm talking about. It's particularly bad in scenes that involve a dark background with a flashlight. Lack of color depth is precisely why a Tesla couldn't discriminate between a white semi trailer that was a silhouette against a bright sky.

    The problem with color camera recognition is that it's an inherently inferior technology that is being deployed because it's the cheapest solution to the problem. Everyone knows that radar would be better, but car manufacturers aren't interested in using radar because a camera is cheap while radar is expensive. The color recognition package is a cheap chip sold by nVidia. Radar systems are expensive.

    The military had the exact same problems with visual recognition systems when they were initially developed for tanks. The found that visual recognition worked just fine on bright sunny days (the conditions under which the system was developed and tested) but failed completely in adverse weather conditions because the system just couldn't resolve the landscape under conditions it had never been trained to recognize.

    No autopilot for me. The real problem for me is going to be the numskulls on the road that embrace the technology and place me at risk for an accident.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnobuddy View Post
    What happens if one of the cost-engineered sensors fail while the car is on autopilot? What happens if the car experiences a simple mechanical failure - say one of the balljoints that hold the front wheels onto the control arms fails - while on autopilot?
    Some sensors spew data out in real time onto the CAN bus. The oversight computer does have the ability to recognize when CAN sensors go offline and trigger an error signal. The problem is that balljoint doen't have a direct connection to the CAN bus so it's unlikely to be recognized directly when it "disappears."

    If the car does have an active suspension, then the suspension should recognize an abrupt change at that corner. Whether or not the autopilot recognizes the problem may be entirely dependent upon whether that problem has been anticipated, and an appropriate response designed into the decision matrix.

    Chances are that's not going to happen, because a lot of what's being done with cars is centered around machine learning. Machine learning requires previous exposure to a situation in order to be trained how to handle it. Chances are that engineers won't be designing new cars with contingency plans for wheels falling off. They want you to buy another new car before that happens, and most wheels only fall off on cars that are out of warranty. It's not their problem.

    The Brown fatality shows us that there's going to be a level of immunity provided to the car manufacturers when cars are "misued" on autopilot. The Tesla autopilot was never intended to be used the way that Brown chose to use it. Even the government's best finger-pointing agency, the NHTSA, determined that the Tesla crash was not Tesla's problem because it did not present a safety issue. Why? Because the Tesla was never designed to be cross-traffic-ware; the result is that Brown's death was determined to be Brown's fault. As a result it seems doubtful that his surviving parents would have any chance of recovering a penny from Tesla.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    The Brown fatality shows us that there's going to be a level of immunity provided to the car manufacturers when cars are "misued" on autopilot. The Tesla autopilot was never intended to be used the way that Brown chose to use it. Even the government's best finger-pointing agency, the NHTSA, determined that the Tesla crash was not Tesla's problem because it did not present a safety issue. Why? Because the Tesla was never designed to be cross-traffic-ware; the result is that Brown's death was determined to be Brown's fault. As a result it seems doubtful that his surviving parents would have any chance of recovering a penny from Tesla.
    I think it has to depend on how clear the autopilot limitations are presented. Of course it may not. I hate to think this accident was a result of failing to "read the fine print" and that qualified Tesla for immunity. That autopilot won't recognize cross traffic and avoid it is a pretty big deal, I think!?! It should be in blinking, illuminated script on the dash whenever autopilot is engaged! But...

    If it IS clear that Teslas autopilot has this cross traffic limitation I'd consider it on the same level as, say, MacDonald's (with another caveat coming up ). That is, of course a diet of Big Mac's and french fries is going to kill you. It's up to YOU to be aware of the requisite use and implementation of the product. In the case of fast food that would simply mean moderation. BUT...

    I see the Tesla case as different for the very good reason that a guy who kills himself eating junk food isn't specifically placing others in danger. Meaning that an idiot who can't manage the proper care and use of a Big Mac (or Big Macs) is not a threat to anyone but himself. But put that same idiot behind the wheel of a Tesla with autopilot and EVERYONE is in danger. For that I think Tesla should be held accountable. This moral position of being responsible for the safe distribution of your product when it can endanger others in the hands of the buyer is pretty standard. It's the reason they don't sell guns to children. So, on this premise I can't believe Tesla got away with it. Good lawyers.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Up front I establish I am not a fan of self driving cars.

    But one thing about them is the technology is bounding ahead at great speed. By that I mean that it is maturing fast and learning a ton with each passing day. I do not mean it is getting ahead of itself. Some systems may push it too far, but a problem from a year ago is old news to the engineers that are working on them.

    True or not, we have heard the stories of a guy driving an RV who put it on cruise control then stepped into the back to grab a soda. If people make unrealistic assumptions, systems will fail to live up to expectations. Re the Tesla event, even the driver said he admits to fucking up.

    Here is one of the ads for the Cadillac. I recognize the road he is on, I-96 near Howell.


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    don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    put that same idiot behind the wheel of a Tesla with autopilot and EVERYONE is in danger.
    Maybe. Or maybe they're in less danger than if he didn't have the Tesla driving aids. He was watching a DVD. Maybe he would have anyway, maybe it would have been a school bus full of kids instead of a truck.

    All day long we drive under the mindless assumption that the other drivers will be doing a good job and obeying the rules. Many times they do not. The casualty rate is quite bad. The road is a likely place to die.
    The idea that self-driving cars need to be perfect is a straw-man argument. The status quo is far from perfect.
    They do need to be significantly safer than human driven. That doesn't seem so unreachable.
    We all think of ourselves as good drivers. What we forget to think about is the guy coming the other way trying to text while driving into the sun.
    Weather permitting I'm on a motorcycle. It gives bit different perspective on the caliber of the average driver when you're that vulnerable. The 'average' driver is not a good driver. They're excellent consumers of infotainment systems though.
    Bring on the machines, let the people do what they want (it's not driving). Those of us that do enjoy driving are the exceptions, not the rule.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    The idea that self-driving cars need to be perfect is a straw-man argument. The status quo is far from perfect.
    They do need to be significantly safer than human driven. That doesn't seem so unreachable.
    That's a very strong argument and it makes perfect sense from a statistical perspective, BUT...

    If WE (the collective) are out there on the roads killing ourselves, we can accept that. Not exactly like that, but there is usually a pin man or a cause we can understand (if not exactly accept). As humans we accept the risk personally and under our own control. Even if the driverless cars were twice as safe as the current road fatalities I would still have no desire to put myself into a potentially fatal activity where no one personally invested in my survival is in control. That seems like a perfectly sane and reasonable survival instinct even if the statistics don't agree. Because "I am not a number! I am a free man!" (I know you'll get that one )

    Also consider how it goes when there IS a fatality. If a drunk driver runs over a cyclist people thing it's a shame and that driver is removed from the system (ideally, I know). But if a driverless car malfunctions and runs over a cyclist that's a whole different thing because of perception. Now we have an evil corporate machine that wasn't made safe enough because "the company" is trying to maximize profit. And "OH HOLY HELL!!!" They actually have statistical reports that discuss an acceptable amount of fatalities!?! As in "Our driverless cars are so safe that they only kill "X number" of people per year." Or maybe "OUR cars kill fewer people than THEIR cars."??? It seems absurd to me. Even the consideration. But only because it requires such a leap outside of human instinct to absorb and accept being a statistic for the greater good rather than an individual taking control of their own destiny. And then there's this!..

    I don't know if it was earlier in this thread, I think it may have been another where I mentioned that with the advent of driverless cars will inevitably come "Advanced Safety Options" (ASO) like paying extra to be preferred in the event of a potentially dangerous circumstance. You can't even pretend like that wouldn't happen. Even if the competition had to learn how to bust transmit code on competitors products, they would. If there was any risk to the customer the ASO would attempt to interfere with objectivity and attempt to make surrounding autonomous vehicles do the same to the preference of their client. Maybe I'm cynical, but I have a hunch I won't be able to afford the ASO. So now how are my statistics?

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Re the Tesla event, even the driver said he admits to fucking up.
    Joshua Brown was killed in the accident. I wonder how he made his admission from the grave.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I noticed that in part of the commercial, the car was in the left hand lane and going so slow that cars were passing in the two lanes to the right. That's a pretty bad way to operate a self-driven car. Slower traffic belongs on the right.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I would still have no desire to put myself into a potentially fatal activity where no one personally invested in my survival is in control. That seems like a perfectly sane and reasonable survival instinct even if the statistics don't agree. Because "I am not a number! I am a free man!"
    My sentiments exactly.

    And I'm old enough to have caught the Prisoner reference.



    Also consider how it goes when there IS a fatality. If a drunk driver runs over a cyclist people thing it's a shame and that driver is removed from the system (ideally, I know).
    The problem is that the first driver to be removed from the system will be the cyclist; unfortunately the drunk driver may or may not be removed. Chances are they will survive to do it all over again.

    I have a problem with the excuses that cage drivers get away with when they run over motorcyclists. "I didn't see them." Irrespective of whether they saw them or not, it was their responsibility to see them and their responsibility shouldn't go away with a lame-ass excuse like that, but all too often it does.

    As a result, people who ride cycles have to be extra vigilant and assume that every cage out there is on the road with the specific intent to kill them. Keeping yourself safe requires that a cyclist intentionally keep himself as far away from other vehicles as possible. I routinely break traffic laws to put a safe distance between me and other drivers. It's suicide not to.

    I wonder how long we'll have to wait read an NHTSA report in which a self-driving car is exonerated for killing a motorcyclist because the self-driving car was never intended to be motorcycle-aware.


    I don't know if it was earlier in this thread, I think it may have been another where I mentioned that with the advent of driverless cars will inevitably come "Advanced Safety Options" (ASO) like paying extra to be preferred in the event of a potentially dangerous circumstance. You can't even pretend like that wouldn't happen. Even if the competition had to learn how to bust transmit code on competitors products, they would. If there was any risk to the customer the ASO would attempt to interfere with objectivity and attempt to make surrounding autonomous vehicles do the same to the preference of their client. Maybe I'm cynical, but I have a hunch I won't be able to afford the ASO. So now how are my statistics?
    I could see privateers and system hackers selling that service. I'd buy it.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I wonder how he made his admission from the grave.
    I recalled such an admission. I may be incorrect then.

    If he was watching a DVD as reported above, then perhaps it was someone else who claimed he was not using the system correctly, rather than he himself.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I think you're right -- somebody else figured out that he was watching a DVD and was not paying attention to the drive.

    The problem in that accident (as I see it) is that the Tesla kept sounding the alarm to get driver interaction, it didn't get it, and it kept on going. I'm thinking that if a car wants driver to take the wheel and that doesn't happen immediately, then the car needs to stop. It should definitely not keep on going in an alarm situation.

    Then you've got the problem of determining how a car that's driving in the left lane, going full speed, can stop itself without causing an accident by making a sudden stop in traffic.

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    Old Timer tedmich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    MacDonald's (with another caveat coming up ). That is, of course a diet of Big Mac's and french fries is going to kill you. It's up to YOU to be aware of the requisite use and implementation of the product. In the case of fast food that would simply mean moderation. BUT...
    That ubiquitous Scottish restaurant maintains officially that their food is intended to be a "rare treat" and thus they bear no responsibility for the hideous health decline that would accompany its REGULAR consumption*

    *something their yearly $963 million ad budget tries to cause continuously

    As to autonomous vehicles, no one loses their job with self driving personal cars so these will come slowly... look for fleets of robot semis and cabs to appear much sooner, as they are being tested nationwide.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I want to know why I can't get Scotch Eggs at Mickey D's.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I want to know why I can't get Scotch Eggs at Mickey D's.
    You can, sort of, with a little ingenuity. Stop in for breakfast, order a couple sausage egg McGuffins. Take the sausage patties, put an egg in between them, that's about as close as you're gonna get. Cheese optional. Wash down with a slug of Laphroaig for an authentic touch. Hoot mon, what a way to start the day! You'll be ready to toss the caber.

    tedmich, "ubiquitous Scottish restaurant", geez that's funny! My first laugh for Monday, and we're only an hour in.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    McHaggis!!!

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    Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions in a sesame seed sheeps belly

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