It seems odd to me that there should be such a Luddite tone here on Slashdot, and an egotistic assumption that humans will always be better at these tasks for the foreseeable future. I see several problems with your lane marking example. 1. If lane markings are so bad humans cannot easily discriminate them, then this should be addressed ASAP autonomous vehicles or not. 2. You seem to assume the self driving car will have no other lane confirmation information other than lane markings from some camera with human eye like contrast discrimination when in actuality, having taken the recent Stanford AI course, they will use multiple input sources and cameras to determine proper lane usage including statistical probability based on previous lane markings, the sides of the road, GPS, LIDAR, RADAR, and placement and movement of other nearby vehicle (and of the latter it will place much more avoidance weight). With Google’s quarter of a million miles already autonomously driven I would assume they often navigated areas with less than ideal lane markings (else we would be hear the hilarious situations the Google cars where constantly getting themselves into).
Yes people will balk at first, but this really is a task humans are REALLY bad at. We may be wonderful at discriminating a dog from a cat or recognizing a pizzeria from the pizza shaped sign, but the self driving car will be hugely better at determining that there is an object at of size X at distance X traveling Z miles per hour towards us. It doesn’t need to understand what every object on the road or side of the road is to operate, it won’t be distracted by video billboards or scantily clad persons of the opposite sex – it is just obsessively crunching data on position and moving object hazards all the while confirming the road ahead is true drivable pavement.
This is a hugely complicated problem, but it is well constrained with clear rules. There is nothing new about driving the self driving car needs to figure out each time. Until streets are better designed for autonomous vehicles they may be overly cautious, but I doubt hazardous, and as streets become optimized for self driving vehicles and as the vehicles themselves improve, they will be able to tear around at incredible speeds safely – if we decided we wanted to let them off the leash so to speak.