1. Luxury belief. The people advocating most loudly for implementing these are the ones that do not live in the places these are tested. You’re welcome to donate your neighborhood and children to the testing curve that goes with implementation of any new technology. After all if your child dies you can console yourself that, statistically, it’s for the greater good.

2. Lack of data. These have never been deployed at scale. Saying they are safer than human drivers (implication: at scale) is like saying a barely tested vaccine is safe and effective. Maybe, maybe not. This claim is just scientifically invalid.

3. Liability matters. Right now at least there is the threat of prosecution for dangerous driving. Which court, exactly, is equipped to comb through billions of lines of code to discern who messed up? As far as I know there’s never been an autonomous system of any kind holding millions of lives all at once in any given moment, and what the incentive structures look like when liability is decoupled from individual actors. And are you sure that amongst tens of thousands of engineers there will never be one horrifically stupid or bad actor?

4. Techno utopians remain shockingly ignorant that technologies never develop as planned. Look at the horror that is too often Facebook. Or smartphones on kids. Technologies’ second, third, fourth order etc effects are inherently unpredictable. The creators are never held accountable.

5. Individuals have autonomy. In contrast, a massive system is different and susceptible to hackers beyond individual control. Generally people don’t get dismembered when their bank account is hacked. How about a hack with hundreds of thousands of drivers all doing 65 mph?

6. I’ve said the solution to this for years is not to make Americans more sedentary by car expansion but restructure cities to be human and child centric. Most Americans live in cities. Many cities in the world have solved this problem already with great urban planning and public transport. Cars are a bad idea for a lot more than road fatalities, in many ways they’ve diminished the beauty and livability of American cities, health, and human relationships.

7. Bad government actors. We’ve seen totalitarian overreach in many areas and it’s even worse in Canada. If governments control social media accounts and cancel bank accounts for political persecution, what exactly does a protest look like when those same corrupt government officials are installed at Waymo just like they were at Twitter?

My point: human freedom isn’t possible when large opaque systems can in one moment derail someone’s intentions or life. There are many other highly successful interventions already in use to reduce traffic deaths that don’t have any of the above risks. Even with a car centric city like Portland they’ve reduced many of the speed limits to 20mph, for example. AI driving is a different animal from past technologies in many dimensions and should therefore be in its own category and not naively equated to the rollouts of past technologies.

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It’s fine that the author enjoys chatting on the phone or “unplugging” while being whisked around in a sterile, silent vehicle. I’d rather risk death by having a conversation with the human being who is driving me around. I’ve had some great talks, met some interesting folks, and gotten perspectives that are different from my own.

All this “if it saves one life” business is getting really old.

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"There’s a natural, though irrational, human bias toward the status quo. We tend to believe that things are the way they are for a good reason."

Good point!

Now, let's try your impeccable logic on the following things that should be dismantled, destroyed or just razed to the ground:

Public Schools

Teacher's Unions

The Democratic Party

All other labor unions

Chicago (the entire city)

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Eric is not considering the numbers correctly. Unless you compare the safety of self-driving cars on per car basis, you can't be sure which is safer. Thousands of people die in car accidents because there are millions of cars on the road. People have also died in self-driving car accidents even though there are a tiny number of these cars on the road. We need data to come to a reasoned conclusion.

I've always thought that the best use of this technology would be as a back-up system for faulty human drivers. Human distraction is probably one of the chief causes of accidents.

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"We are all bad drivers? Speak for yourself. I am in many ways glad that I will not likely live long enough to spend my time on the road dodging computer controlled vehicles. Even my adaptive cruise often drives me batty!

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“ Anyone rooting against self-driving cars is cheering for tens of thousands of deaths, year after year.” If you disagree with me, you’re evil. Garbage.

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In mentioning the thousands of accidents, Mr. Newcomer does not distinguish between those which happen in low speed areas versus on the highway. Robots are good highway drivers in terms of safety but lousy highway drivers from the perspective of human drivers.

My 2022 car when operating in "Adaptive Cruise Control" mode (as a simple robot) on the highway responds as it should for safety to a slowing car ahead, by sacrificing speed for distance to maintain adequate calculated braking distance. This "correct" action is the opposite of what humans do, who generally sacrifice distance to reduce speed as little as possible. As such my good robot driver slowing down more than a human creates an unexpected and potential dangerous situation behind me and at a minimum annoys the driver following me.

What happens next as traffic speeds up is my robot does not speed up as quickly to avoid aggressive acceleration and so to the driver behind me I am annoyingly not keeping pace.

Note that in both cases, the robot is driving correctly and safely. Should the programmers teach it to drive like a human or someone's grandmother and stay in the right hand lane? Would you like to be in that car?

Worse, when the highway curves to the left while an exit is straight ahead, my car sometimes misinterprets the car in front of me slowing down to exit as an abruptly slowing car on the highway. In response, my car breaks heavily and unexpectedly, startling the driver behind me who is hopefully paying attention and who sees no reason or warning for me to brake. Rage? I have nearly been re-ended twice in this scenario.

The more robots, the more grandmothers there are on the highway which I submit is not a better safety environment. Perhaps a bumper sticker would be appropriate. "Don't Blame Me, My Robot is Driving"

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Yeah, no

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Self driving vehicles are inherently privacy invasive. That ought to give pause of itself.

Also, when a driver causes a homicide we understand that it's a failing of that individual. However, when an autonomous vehicle causes a fatality it's because of what a programmer or engineer thought was an appropriate trade off when training the engine.

They are different categories of both culpability and morality.

Not absolutely against, but it's not just a straight utilitarian issue.

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How sad to see such a technologically illiterate article in a magnificent journal like The Free Press. The Free Press has an admirable moral compass, but it is weak in the realm of real world technology. How absurd is the proposition that “X percent (pick a number) of traffic accidents are caused by human drivers. Therefore eliminating human drivers will reduce traffic accidents”? The pursuit of self-driving technology has yielded some great driver-assist systems, but the claim of self-driving, except under the most constrained conditions, will yield only carnage. Free Press, you can do better than this.

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Author: "Anyone rooting against self-driving cars is cheering for tens of thousands of deaths, year after year."

Really... you are "cheering for death" if you don't agree with the move toward less individual freedom and more government/corporate control of human life? This kind of hyper-emotional attempt to shame those who hold another opinion tells me that I can disregard the rest of this guy's argument.

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I'm not a luddite. But the safety justification better not open the door to taking away my autonomy. I like driving. Take a lesson from unusable gas containers, low pressure toilets and showers.,

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"The innocent self-driving car was burnt to a crisp."

Tip #1 for reaching people on the other side of this issue: do not anthropomorphize or ascribe moral value to technology. It smells weird and gets the hackles up. Reserve moral categories for the humans creating and using the technology.

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“ Anyone rooting against self-driving cars is cheering for tens of thousands of deaths, year after year.”

I guess I'm cheering for tens of thousands of deaths, year after year, then.

Utilitarianism is evil. Automating everything and delegating to AI takes away human agency. You'll have to rip my steering wheel from my cold dead hands.

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"And contrary to the view that driverless cars are being deployed unilaterally by tech billionaires, the people’s representatives—government officials—gave Alphabet-owned Waymo a license to operate."

Tell me you don't see the irony in this sentence.

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Typical leftist Utopian soft totalitarian thought process.

People just shouldn’t be allowed to do things the Oligarchy deems dangerous. It’s for people’s own good. It’s for the innocent children. It saves money. Exceptions for Nomenklatura of course.

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