I was alarmed when I read of the county’s plans to use “autonomous” vehicles on our roads in the future (Nov 29). That strikes me as an extremely hasty, ill-advised and hazardous course of action. The reason given is that “80% of the cost of operating transit comes from labor.” That’s why governments are pushing this risky technology; they don’t want to contribute to people’s health insurance or retirement accounts anymore.They would rather put people out of work.

There have already been various fatalities in the Bay Area due to the use of “self-driving” vehicles. No robot can substitute for an alert human driver. Now you might say: not all humans are alert. I seem to remember last spring when an alcohol-impaired driver turned on the autopilot to get home, went to sleep but was arrested after his car crashed into a median.  The robot vehicle didn’t kill anyone.

Now we have the additional polemic of whether it’s OK to play video games as your car drives you home (Dec. 10 and Dec. 11). Maybe we should encourage Mr. Musk to make his Lear Jet “autonomous.”

That way he could play video games and smoke marijuana as his plane flew itself back to Austin. But the Texans probably would not let it land itself there. They are much more sensible and more concerned about safety than we are. No wonder everyone is leaving California and going back there.

Clayton Rich

South San Francisco

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(2) comments


Autonomous vehicles are a growing reality. They're still in the process of development but billions of hours of testing so far show that computers can be safer drivers than humans.


Agree and add =

When would these AI driven autos be allowed to break the law ?

Meaning, if a small child runs out into the street and can NOT stop in time, would that AI be allowed to break the law and cross a double, double center line? Or a single double line ?

Humans...most humans would cross that double, double line to avoid killing/maiming that child and deal with on-coming vehicles in hopes they would swerve enough.

Then how's about a cat/dog ? Would the AI's truth tables allow striking a cat/dog because it is NOT a human ?

That is just one example and there are many more scenarios that an AI would need to decide to break the law in order to avoid something.

Then there is the maintenance of the AI's sensors. Radar, vision, sonar, etc all have sensors that require a min level of ability to 'see' and report back.

Finally, insurance and lawsuits. Who is the responsible entity if there should be an accident ?

The driver (though just along for the ride), the vehicle owner ?...the computer OEM ?...the software OEM ?

Finally...at some point those AI's will need to be sentient...what then? There was a Russian (Moscow) robotics firm that had several humanoid robots. Finally graduated to be allowed out of their cage and roam around the large building...then allowed outside

One walked away and found because the battery ran out of juice. Rebuilt and it did it again. Rebuilt again and with a new HDD...it ran away again.

Wrote them asking to NOT destroy it, as reported in the article I read...too late they destroyed it...but that was THE ONE that should have been studied...

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