[LINK] Will humans be banned from driving?

Frank O'Connor francisoconnor3 at bigpond.com
Wed Jun 1 19:03:11 AEST 2016

Yo Ivan,

> On 1 Jun 2016, at 6:24 PM, Ivan Trundle <ivan at itrundle.com> wrote:
>> 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.

Mmmm … again, it’s all incremental development. What happens at the Big End inevitable trickles down to the Little End - especially in high tech fields like aeronautics.

>> 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.

As I said, it will happen incrementally.

>> 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.

Well, mixing human controlled and robot controlled vehicles in any given transport environment would probably introduce complications and complexities that would make neither more pleasant, efficient, quicker, or error free.

>> …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.

It’s all a function of economics. 

Capitalism is suppose to work so that the capitalist has to make the decision between labour and capital dependent on the relative costs. If labour prices itself too high then the capitalist is supposed to invest more in productive capital/machines. For example, Uber drivers used to remit 20% to Uber and keep 80% to themselves, Uber has lately pushed for 25% from new drivers, and will in all likelihood push for increasing their take/margins in future as shareholders require bigger returns. Then, as drivers inevitably kick up, it may become a decision for Uber to abandon the idea of drivers altogether, take the hit for buying the cars and fully automate their fleet for a 100% revenue stream. Or maybe it will lease automated cars from investors and pay them, say, 50% of the takings. The financial decisions, tax effectiveness and prospective returns can be dependent on whatever structures and business models they develop.

That’s one reason why I'd never encourage people to become Uber drivers. Basically the company has them over a barrel, and they can be hammered any time Uber feels like it.

The point is that if the SERVICE is desirable, if there’s a market for it, and Uber and taxi companies seem to have proved it is, then there is money to be made - and a service requiring those robotics likely becomes economically viable down-the-track.

> 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).

What is considered extreme nowadays is often commonplace down the track … that’s why we have all the industry and business model disruption we have nowadays. For mine, I’d love to be driving into town whilst reading a book, catching up on the news, or watching a replay of a footy game. If I was still working, I also wouldn’t have minded spending the wasted frustrating hour or two answering e-mail, conversing with colleagues, setting up presentations or analysing data

> 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).

Mmmm … A lot of technological innovations have gone into car design to make them safer, more comfortable, and more controllable - but in extreme snow conditions there’s nothing like a good set of snow chains.

I used to ride a 2 Pot Kwacker 650 around Tassie, 40 years back when I was a student … and lost count of the number of times I got into trouble in dirt on up-hill corners, or mud slicks, ice patches and puddles. Seemed to spend a lot of time sliding on my butt as a result. I really appreciated the simple differential gear in the first car I owned after I sold the Kawasaki.

Since then there’s been ANY NUMBER of technological developments that have technically wrested control of the vehicle from the driver, but made the car safer, more comfortable and more controllable. I see the (continued) automation of motor vehicles as a continuation of this, and unlike others have no problems with the ides of robotics/automation doing the work for me.

Then I can use the wasted time for more productive or enjoyable pursuits.

More information about the Link mailing list