[LINK] Will humans be banned from driving?

Frank O'Connor francisoconnor3 at bigpond.com
Wed Jun 1 18:01:36 AEST 2016


Keeping this private …     :)

> On 1 Jun 2016, at 5:02 PM, Bernard Robertson-Dunn <brd at iimetro.com.au> wrote:
> On 1/06/2016 4:24 PM, Frank O'Connor wrote:
>> Actually, commercial aeroplanes have pretty much been fully automated. You can enter coordinates/destinations/flight plans into the modern autopilot and the plane will take off, fly to the destination and land without any human intervention at all. I’m not too sure about the taxiing, but everything about the flying can effectively occur without any intervention from the pilot.
> But the pilot can still take over if necessary. And (s)he has to undergo
> lots of training/assessment every year to keep their skills up. A
> problem created by the solution.

Actually the biggest problem encountered with the modern auto-pilot was keeping said human pilots awake for the duration of the journey. There have been numerous instances of the entire cabin crew drifting off to NoddyLand for a large percentage of the flight. Given this, I’d guess that the degree of confidence of said pilots in the auto-pilot is pretty high.

And yes, I know it’s great to have a 'backup system’ to the auto-pilot in a plane, and I doubt I wold want to fly in a plane that didn’t have one … but that doesn’t take away from the effectiveness and capabilities (and widely used capabilities) of the autopilot in modern planes.

Like it or not, factoring humans out of the decision-making and control of aircraft proceeds apace … and doesn’t seem to have adversely affected safety and efficiency of air transport. In fact, quite the contrary.

>>> And changing technology can be much harder than changing human behaviour
>>> - given the right incentives.
> I wasn't referring to long term behavioural changes, I was talking about
> instant change of behaviour in rapidly changing, unexpected or unplanned
> circumstances.

OK … perhaps you were unclear.

I could enumerate any number of situations where that would not apply - where a human is often incapable of making the right decision, or completing the correct motor reaction. When the car is skidding on patchy ice, getting blown about by huge gusts on an exposed wind swept surface, planing on water covered road surfaces, struggling to avoid multiple out-of-control vehicles bearing down on it, or simply failing to properly negotiate an off camber corner … an automated system may/would recognise and try to control the problem faster that a human. The human response in such a situation may be to panic and brake, which would endanger not only those in the car but also fellow motorists and pedestrians on the same road. That’s why many of the improvements in modern car design have happened.

And in many other complex, sudden or crisis situations on the road … a human will get confused, their reaction times will slow, they will make bad decisions. Decisions that often depend on complementary rational decisions being made by drivers around them. Who are also panicked or operating under stress.

And a lot of those ‘unplanned circumstances’ are the direct result of what OTHER HUMANS are doing on the road around you. The speeding guy barging through traffic shooting for getting to work on time, the idiot who changes lanes without indicating, the prick who changes into your fast lane, and then slows to a crawl, the bloke who has just smoked a joint or downed a slab of beer and is on his way home, the distracted woman on the phone to her mother, the speeding car full of teenage kids having a moving party, the unfortunate who just dropped a lit cigarette into his lap, etc. etc. etc. They aren’t exactly the most rational and in-control parties to be moving along with, on a packed freeway, at 100Kmh in a two ton vehicle with all the necessary kinetic energy to reduce anything they hit to a bloody smashed heap of powdered bone and blood … are they?

But they’re easier to improve than the technology which removes them from the equation? Give me a break!

And I take your comments regarding your engineering expertise advisedly, but am at a loss for your refusal to admit that over time vehicle safety and controllability has been improved by previous incremental engineering, automation and technological improvements, and your averral that future incremental technological improvements are not likely to occur or be of benefit. 

Bottom line: To what extent is your position a function of your engineering expertise, and to what extent is it a function of your bias toward direct personal control of whatever technology you use. (I’m assuming you enjoy driving and cars.)

Finally, as I said … I see the whole fazing humans out of the equation as an incremental development, over decades, rather than anything that’s gonna happen overnight. But with the road toll pretty much stymied (for the last 20 years) at the same level, and more people and more vehicles and more traffic, and hence more traffic jams, and less money for more roads and infrastructure … the accident rate and transport problems generally are likely to increase without technological developments to forestall it.

And a natural development or use of all those developments and improvements, will be autonomous robotic cars. And there’ll be a 'car-hire' rather than ‘own car’ market for same amongst the Millennials (who are already a generation with a much lower rate of car ownership than their predecessors … not least because of the economic circumstances they are in, and the fact that they don’t see the need for that sort of capital investment for an asset that has depreciated by better than 25% the moment they take delivery), amongst us ageing Baby Boomer retirees for our occasional local travels we don’t need to keep cars on the road, and amongst car-hire services like Uber (factoring the driver out will pretty much complete their rationalisation) and taxis, and amongst inner big-city denizens who simply want to get from one local point A to Point B.

Just my 2 cents worth, Bernard … but it does seem to run against type when you, of all people, come up with a Luddite position like this on pretty weak grounds.

Sorry, but you’re pissing against the wind on this one, Mate  …

Feel free to continue disagreeing though.         :)


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