Went to register www.ubuntusucks.com to see if Mark Shuttleworth would sue me.
Turns out it redirects to their bugtracker.
Well played, sir.
Went to register www.ubuntusucks.com to see if Mark Shuttleworth would sue me.
Turns out it redirects to their bugtracker.
Well played, sir.
I've long maintained that the progression will go something vaguely like this:
- Fully manual cars.
- Electronic fuel injection, spark plug control, etc.
- Power windows that stop when something's caught in them, digital dashboard that beeps at you when you're low on fuel, bluetooth integration that mutes the audio when you have an incoming call, etc.
- OnStar and equivalent systems.
- Safety and navigation systems like airbags, electronic stability control, GPS, blind spot indicators that can be manually overridden and just sound alarms, anti rear-end sensors, reverse sensors, etc.
This is where we are right now.
- Automatic park systems (some cars have them but they're still very rare).
- Blind spot indicators that physically stop you from merging when a collision is detected.
- "Smart" emergency systems that detect when a car's upside down, had its airbags activated, or is in distress.
- Optional automatic "highway mode" driving.
- Optional "long distance" haul.
- Optional automatic "door to door" driving.
At this point, the requirements for getting a licence become much harder, much like getting a gun licence in Australia. Must show genuine need, must do yearly tests, must have a much higher skill level than our current drivers and demonstrate a need to be able to operate a vehicle manually.
- Mandatory "highway mode" driving, with emergency override.
- Mandatory "long distance" haul, with emergency override.
- Mandatory "door to door" driving, with emergency override.
Our attitude towards manual drivers slowly changes. Back in the day wearing seatbelts was uncool and unpopular, now everyone does it (and is horrified by those who don't). By now I imagine the same attitude is held towards manual operators, especially by young people.
- Total redesign of the personal car, making them more like the back seat of a limo, open and even with things like fold out beds for long trips, etc.
- Total redesign of our transport infrastructure. Cars are now electric, and can now auto-drive to and dock with large trains that shuttle them long distances such as between suburbs or different "sides" of larger cities, charging on the way. Huge trains compliment or replace highways in this way, simply due to efficiencies of scale.
And probably a million things I haven't even thought of yet.
Well, that was the problem that was presented. Let's tackle this one instead.
You're driving at 65mph (104.607km/h, which I'll round to 105km/h just to be easier, and since the previous example was done using metric), in the middle lane of a freeway. Tanker to your right, redneck to your left.
Your car is autodriving, cruising along in conditions that are basically ideal for it; this isn't some trecherous mountain road, it's a highway. Ideal conditions. The LIDAR on top is working away, and you're checking MyFace+ and looking at pictures of cats.
Plastic bag gets kicked up in front of you. The LIDAR probably can't even see it because it's not dense enough, but let's assume it can. This is actually a very well chosen problem: the fact that the bag's off the ground might confuse the system, and let's assume that the system has no way of determining the density of an object and hasn't been programmed for bird strikes (a fairly common occurrence really, but let's just assume).
So the LIDAR and onboard computers examine the object, determines that it's not moving very fast, but there's going to be a collision. There's no way the car can go left, there's no way the car can go right. There's a potential collision object in front of it and cars behind.
Its course of action is to do the following:
- Performs a complex risk analysis. If I'm completely boxed in, how safe is it to collide with the object behind me (or emergency break and risk a collision) vs just striking the thing? In this case, we assume it can't tell the difference between "brick flying off the back of a truck" and "plastic bag", so it assumes the former and reacts accordingly.
- Break as much as possible, keeping in mind that it has full 360 degree vision and won't allow the car behind it to rear-end and will ease up the breaking if a collision is going to occur.
- Attempts, if possible, to go into "harm minimization mode", where it realises that a collision is imminent. Airbags are primed and charged, seatbelts are tightened, the horn is sounded and the system sends an SMS to the local emergency responders, informing them that a collision may be taking place (it later transmits either a 'false alarm', a 'non-critical impact, we'll be okay' or a 'critical impact, send help', with nothing being assumed to be the later).
- The trajectory of the potential collision object is analysed, far quicker than a human can. The computerised system is aware of where its occupants are (even my car has alarms that whine if you aren't wearing your seatbelt). It knows that this object, which we've assumed it can't tell the density of, is going to strike the vehicle, and therefore positions the vehicle within its lane so that the object strikes an unattended area, if possible, such as the passenger seat (assuming only a "driver").
- Other systems can potentially activate, things that just won't work on driver-controlled cars, such as external airbags. Since the car knows it's going into the shit, it can prepare accordingly, and do multiple concurrent things at once (simultaneously prepare for, and try to avoid, an accident) in a way no human can.
- The system begins to record what's happening on a black box. This does nothing to help the people in the car, but helps people across the country and the world, when the data is analysed by the car's engineers. Now, the autodrive system can be tweaked so that this kind of error doesn't happen any more. We've learnt that the density of a potential collision object matters. The accident, even if it somehow kills the people onboard, becomes a learning experience for every "driver" in the entire world, rather than just a statistic on a chalkboard in a police station.
So yes. Assuming that the car mistakenly identifies a non-harmful object as a harmful object, which as I pointed out may not be a realistic scenario (LIDIR may not be able to see a plastic bag due to it being largely opaque and not very dense, and the car's systems may be programmed for things like bird-strikes, where light, flying objects are an acceptable risk to collide with), then the car will perform in error.
That's, in my mind, no greater a risk than the driving panicking and hard-overing the wheel, causing the car to flip and roll, smash into either one of the large trucks on either side, or slam on the brakes themselves and cause a pile up too.
There are edge cases where having a human in control of a car is better. What if the object to be struck was, say, a spray of water from a fire truck? Or a car's on a bridge that's collapsing? Or the car is being "driven" by a criminal who wants to avoid road spikes? Some kind of car with active camoflague? Is it better to rear-end the Prius or the M1A4 Abrams tank? What if there's a crazed nutter on the highway sniping at passing cars? Etc etc.
The thing is... for the majority of cases, where people are commuting to and from work, or picking their kids up from school, or doing any number of daily, mundane tasks, a computer can manage this much better, much more safely, more reliably, and with a greater level of care for passengers, other road users, and third parties than a human can. A human will win in the edge cases -- our ability to do that is what makes us the dominant species on this planet -- but for every day things, a robo-driver is better.
Be like a casino. Support the laws of probability. Eventually you'll win out.
Which would YOU pick? Bearing in mind the car is travelling at 150km/h, and you probably have less time to decide than you do reading this sentence.
So you see something on the road at 50m, which takes your brain 200ms to identify it. You identify it as a baby, which takes, let's say, 500ms (humans are surprisingly good at that). You really quickly check your mirrors and scan the upcoming road to make sure you're not driving into something dangerous (500ms), and see that you are. You identify it as an immobile pillar, highly dangerous.
Now let's throw in some time to moralise this decision. It doesn't matter how long, but let's say 500ms.
You turn the wheel to avoid the crash, which takes 200ms, and the car begins to turn, and in say 200ms, neatly avoids the baby. Right?
Uhh, not quite. You haven't even finished checking your surroundings yet, and that baby is currently underneath your front left wheel (150km/hr * 1200 miliseconds = 50.00000004 metres). Note: 150km/h is 0.0416666667 metres a milisecond.
Your autodriving car, however, sees the baby at 50m. It doesn't care that it's a baby, because it's a solid lump in the middle of the road, and it should be avoided. If it were a wombat, it would wreck your shit at 150km/hr, and honestly a concrete pillar is probably not that much worse.
Let's see how the auto driving car fares.
So your car sees something on the road at 50m, which it takes 200ms to identify. It doesn't spend any further time on this because objects on the road must be avoided. It begins slowing the car while it decides, and a coprocessor tightens the seat belts, primes the air bags, and potentially sounds the horn (or notifies other self-driving cars by wireless that, hey, shit's about to go down yo).
It doesn't need to check its surroundings because, as an automated system, it has full 360 vision at all times and doesn't slack off, get distracted, get tired, have a fight with the ex over the kids or get an SMS or any number of factors that could distract a driver. And before you say "But I constantly pay attention at all times on the road and never, ever slack off ever", firstly bullshit, and secondly you can't do it as well as it does anyway.
There's no moralising in this equation. It just wants to avoid hitting things.
It begins turning the wheel to avoid the crash, which takes 200ms, and the car begins to turn, and in say 200ms, neatly avoids the baby.
What other things can it do?
Let's see: how about talk to other cars wirelessly, informing them that there's a hazard and steering around it. So only this car needs to dodge, all the others are aware of it and react accordingly -- and even get out of the way of the dodger, so that it doesn't have to slam into the concrete. How about the car can (at the speed of a computer, faster a human brain) calculate its current speed, distance to target, potential impact threat of a solid object that size, and just decide to break instead. How about the car (for whatever reason) gets into an accident and automatically informs the first responders, possibly even transmitting things like: "Three passengers. Caucasian female, African male, Asian female. African male is allergic to penicillin." If you want to go truly sci-fi, then it gives real-time status feeds. "Asian female is hemmoraging, heart rate is high, possibly tachycardia. Caucasian female was thrown from the vehicle and cannot be monitored."
The advent of self-driving cars is like the invention of the internet. We don't even KNOW what it'll do to our society, but I'm really excited about it and I want one now now now now now now now now now, and not JUST so I don't get stuck being the designated drivers simply because I also own a car.
>ask where forum members don't give a shit about PC.
So you're telling him to go ask 4chan?
On one hand, oh god, that is a terrible thought.
On the other hand... if so, that could be a huge catalyst for space funding, if you could convince the Aramahic churches of the world that science says the Garden of Eden is on Mars, and we need to go back there, they could pour funds into sending humans there.
That'd be an interesting idea for a short story, actually. A bunch of Mormons flying out to Mars to find the Garden of Eden.
Lots of things. And they will.
But statistically, it'll probably be better than having humans behind the wheel. Not that this will stop anyone the first time the car backs over a kid, despite their excellent safety record.
A key component of nearly all, or in fact all, conspiracy theories is a vast group of dedicated individuals with almost infinite resources who, in ways grand and mundane, affect reality to hide some truth or collection of truths. The problem with that theory is that any evidence to the contrary, no matter how convincing, is in fact seen as evidence *for* the theory.
An example. There are two ninjas outside your window right now.
Go on, take a look.
See any ninjas?
No, of course you didn't, because they're invisible. Ninjas are badarse pros who would never be seen by an amateur. They're there, though. I was reading on Black Helicopter-o-pedia about the ninja training program in 1967 that produced hundreds of thousands of these trained, stealthy killers and they watch "persons of interest" constantly. Go read a book, sheeple!
More seriously, though, the root cause of conspiracy theories is usually ego. The kind of people who believe in them are typically those who have a very high opinion of themselves, often to the point of believing that they're amongst a small group of people (as small as 1 person) who are somehow smart enough, or cunning enough, or brave enough, or in some way "special" enough to avoid some great trick or ailment that affects the "mundanes". The idea, though, that they are infact deficient in some manner, such as being batshit insane, can't cross their minds because they've convinced themselves that they're better than everyone.
That's not to say that mainstream ideas are always correct, or that the most popular opinion is the best one; but any theory that relies, in some part, on you being intrinsically better than everyone, including academics and those with decades of experience and know-how in certain areas who have no incentive to cover up vast scandals, or that relies on a global, infinitely resourced, powerful, invisible cabal to work is probably bullshit.
Plus, you know, these things do have a tendency to come out. The NSA got busted doing a huge amount of domestic spying lately. They ARE an organisation that is essentially global, essentially infinitely resourced, powerful, invisible... and they managed to conceal this fact for what? Ten years, only?
Alas, this kind of origin story is less suited to a superhero, more suited to a supervillain.
Good to see people bucking the trope.
>When the day comes that this information is obtained and used against the same politicians who voted for it, it will be some delicious comeuppance.
I really don't think you quite get how that day would work.
"Senator, PRISM has discovered an email of you admitting to having a gay lover in college, something that would make you completely unelectable in this country for some reason."
"Ahh. Johnny Ten Inches. Yes, well, I admit to that. How much is it going to cost for this to go away?"
"We have all the money we need, but it would sure be nice if that new NSA data seizure legislation in the pipeline got a yes vote. #211,944 if I recall."
"#211,944? I'm not familiar with it."
"Of course you aren't, senator. We haven't written it yet."
I'm a sci-fi writer, and I've thought about this a fair bit. Book two in the Lacuna series deals with a self-aware construct who is different from his peers because of a tiny error. His inputs and outputs are therefore non-deterministic, in so far as you could present him with a set of inputs and record his outputs, then erase his memory and give him the same inputs again. His outputs would be different (subtly). Or they might not. The error was subtle enough to evade detection during manufacturing after all.
Humans are flesh computers, but it is our imperfection that makes us able to grow and change. To be non-deterministic.
Makes me want to write a story about that.
Reporting from the ACT, which is a tiny territory wholly within New South Wales.
Today's tempretures were "real fucking hot", about 38 C/39 C, and the wind is really strong. Whipping up dust all over the place, buffeting the car around as I drove, etc etc. The grass around is quite rich and quite dry, like little golden fields. I actually used the lush grass in a Kindle serial set in Canberra, because it's really pretty and there's a lot of it (and it's very dry). Very, very similar to the big fires that swept through here a decade ago (I was here for that).
It's overcast and cooler now, but earlier today it wouldn't have taken much to light everything up. Some people who lived out in the rural areas are staying home today because they're expecting fires.
I expect tomorrow and the day after will be not as bad, because there's a lot of cloud that's moved in, but later in the week will be bad.
The finest eloquence is that which gets things done.