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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?)

  2. #37
    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.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  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.

  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.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  5. #40
    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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    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  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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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conner View Post
    If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken.
    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it.

  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.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  9. #44
    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?
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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