[ExI] chinese to test robo-taxis

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Aug 18 16:21:45 UTC 2016

-----Original Message-----
From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of BillK
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 8:49 AM
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Subject: Re: [ExI] chinese to test robo-taxis

On 18 August 2016 at 15:35, spike  wrote:
> Cool, they are going to test a self-driving taxi:
> http://www.wsj.com/articles/volvo-uber-to-jointly-develop-autonomous-s
> port-utility-vehicles-1471518577
> I am annoyed that they are using Chinese cars as a platform...  China has four times the number 
> of people, so it stands to reason they would have four times the 
> number of drunks needing a safe ride home.  Economies of scale make things happen.

Uber is starting self-driving taxis *this month* in Pittsburg.
>...Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved.
Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet, which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat for the time being, consists of specially modified Volvo
XC90 sport-utility vehicles outfitted with dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers.

>...USA drunkards get to be the first!  :)  BillK


Ja, is this cool or what?  I already heard a local company is trying to start up in Mountain View based on the Stanford/Google team to compete with Carnegie Mellon.  Go cardinal!  We can take 'em!

This raises a pile of new and interesting questions, starting with the liability dilemma of steering-wheel vs no-steering-wheel self-drivers.  As I understood it, the first category, the one which has been under test around Google for the last several years, requires a licensed and presumed sober operator behind the wheel, but this taxi does not.  Therefor... Uber and perhaps Volvo accept the liability.

Next, we have the problem of what happens when a self-driver gets into an accident under the circumstances where it is clear the accident was caused by humans, perhaps intentionally?  The self-driver has the burden of proof, and even then... I would think the odds are stacked against it steeply.  Reason: the defendant is deep-pockets China.  In US civil court, the one with the most money loses.

Next.  It is easy enough to see that self-drivers are a waaaay better deal than human drivers for a multitude of reasons.  The self-driver will not rob or rape a passenger, they won't gossip around town if they took the local Methodist minister home drunk, that sorta thing.  OK so that displaces a bunch of taxi drivers, particularly human Uber drivers, many of whom may not be able to get jobs aaaaaanywhere; they might be convicted felons for instance.

OK then, how hard would it be for an unemployed Uber driver to call up a self-driving taxi, ride it to the home of her cheating boyfriend's girlfriend, then barf in the car just before getting out?  Or leave behind a pile of shit on the seat?  She gets revenge on Volvo while shifting the blame onto her competitor.

Next.  We can easily imagine a neighborhood where a self-driving taxi would work out just fine: the people there have good jobs, no one would take a taxi job there even if it is available, and so forth.  Come on, you can picture what I am talking about.  Now consider the counterpart, those areas where there are a lot of people out of work, a lot of people struggling, dangerous places where the locals burn businesses for no clear reason.  Those self-driving taxi companies will not go there: too risky.  Then you have a case where the good neighborhood drunks ride home inexpensively, safely and discretely, but in the bad neighborhood, even human-operated taxis don't want to go there because it is too risky.  The drunks there attempt to drive themselves home, get arrested.

Alternate scenario: drunk calls taxi, bad guy sees her stumble out of bar, follows self-driver to her home, drunkard gets out, bad guy goes to work, no human witnesses.

We completely foresaw the consequences of Uber: the drivers can themselves be criminals.  Happened already.  Now we can easily see some really big problems coming with self-driving taxis.  They are coming anyway.

Societal problems are Hydra-headed beasts, and technology is Hercules' sword.


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