[LINK] Will humans be banned from driving?

Ivan Trundle ivan at itrundle.com
Wed Jun 1 18:24:37 AEST 2016

> On 1 Jun 2016, at 6:01 PM, Frank O'Connor <francisoconnor3 at bigpond.com> wrote:
> 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.

Commercial planes, maybe. Some of us use other forms of flight, much the same as cars. There is a huge range that we are talking about here.

> 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.

Again, this doesn’t apply across the entire spectrum of flying, and probably won’t in our lifetime: look at the resistance to ADS-B just as one example. Or the fact that most of the General Aviation airframes are approaching an average age of over 20 years… I can’t see GA pilots retro-fitting any level of automation without a fight (on $$$ grounds mostly), and there is a point at which having a human pilot in RPT planes is cost-effective, if only because if offers options, and a level of assurance to flying passengers. But this was about cars, which is very different. As different as ships.

> 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.

Not disagreeing at all, but why assume that all vehicles will be used the same way? I can see many instances in both aviation and terrestrial transport where the act of being a ‘pilot’ of the machine gives much pleasure. I also see instances where it gives no pleasure at all: so there will aways be both ends of the spectrum supported by industries which evolve to offer market-driven vehicles with either full autonomy, or none, and everything in-between.

> …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),…

So who pays for the capital investment in the robotics? Conflating the ability of vehicle manufacturers to push a market into buying so frequently that they depreciate faster than ice-cream on a hot day only works when there is a viable and rapacious market to sell into. Look at Cuba for a market where that didn’t happen, and where cars do not depreciate.

Not being a luddite here, but the argument often hurdles towards the extreme end of the potential development of robotic systems, often by people who believe that robotic systems will ‘save us from drudgery’, or ‘keep us safe’ (both of which are debatable end-points).

I look forward to the day that a car can steer my vehicle out of harms way in an environment where objects on the road are difficult to discern, both in terms of shape and vector, and where the road edges are equally hard to discern (I drive a lot in the snow).


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