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June 20, 2014

Vice.com Article : De-Pave Paradise

I stumbled across this article on Vice.com today. It starts out by stating “The sharing ecosystem that driverless cars are going to usher in is going to cut down on the number of cars on the road and as a consequence, will kill the modern parking lot.”

I have to tell you, this comes straight out of the gate as something people click to simply because they are curious how someone could formulate this opinion. Anyone who has used any form of public transportation knows that people are abusive, and more so when they aren’t observed. You can’t have a clean wall because someone WILL tag it. It could be the most popular coffee shop in the country with people coming and going at all hours and someone WILL scratch their name in the table. Take a cab in any modern city and unless its brand new, there is damage done by the population of that city, or visitors to it.

There is no way that a cohort of vehicles will replace ownership in any level of abundance as to enable the taking up of parking lots. Like other projects that look great on paper, like privatization of government equating to savings, the reality is that once put into practice… abuse follows unless there is unflinching attention given to the population and the weaknesses in the theory observed and countered. This doesn’t happen as there would need to be a large population dedicated to simply observing and correcting.

Why did I bring government privatization into this? I’m currently doing research into the cost of privatization of the government, and I’ll just point you to search for the POGO report on private contractors from 2011 which reports that costs are dramatically higher and that report doesn’t take into account the constantly revolving population of contractors needing to be ramped up to the processes of government work.

There is absolutely no way that things won’t get exploited. The Vice.com article continues: “Your car could give you a lift to work int he morning and then, rather than sitting idle in the parking lot, give a lift to someone else in your family… or for that matter, to anyone else in your neighborhood…” and that is simply absurd. Humans without accountability are destructive creatures. Not all of them, of course not. Some people care about others and the ownership of property. They respect everything around them and aren’t willfully destructive. BUT, go outside right now, look at the sides of the cars around your parking lot. You’ll not find a smooth, unmarked door in the lot. Rather, if you do, the car is less than a month old and has been swaddled in blankets each day in a far corner of the parking lot.

Driverless cars, I can buy into that ideology. As long as the consequences for hacking them to increase performance or some other aspect is extremely high. One discussion I had on the matter brought about this idea… hacking a driverless car and what happens in the chance of a failure/accident. I suggest it is an instant felony to hack a driverless car and it results in a car accident. It would be a misdemeanor if a car is hacked outside of academic/professional environments and the hacker is caught. Why would I be so heavy-handed?

Because once the system is in place and it creates a smooth flowing, high speed, transportation system of great reliability, there is no need to exploit it and cause harm in the process. Keep it in scientific circles. There will be more cars moving at higher speed with greater reliability than can be garnered now. Gone are the days where you can tweak your car to get your moonshine to its destination or away from the police.

Ultimately the article closes with a reference to the Netherlands going “all-in on the technology” which, to me, is a far cry from the expanse of concrete jungle in the United States and wholly unrepresentative of what would be or not be needed in terms of driverless systems. California alone is somewhere around 11 times as big as the Netherlands and is a sprawling.

Again, I’m all for driverless vehicles. They won’t be fully automated in suburban areas because too many people will worry about children. There will always be a steering wheel present and occupants will always be required to be alert. At least for the next 100 years. For all of our desire to make and do great things… the economics of doing so simply doesn’t exist except in those few who have climbed a mountain, looked down and was disappointed in what they saw to the point they wanted to use their wealth for something better.

Tesla, for instance, releasing their patent library into the wild. Various Google moonshots are examples. But then there are others who stifle growth because of some odd ideology. As I’ve said in many discussions… There seems to be a polarity in the population, a constant struggle between “Them” and “Us”, the moderate is in hiding and wondering why 49% are always for something wholly, and 49% are wholly against something. There are no other options for those polar halves, they will be on the winning team come hell or high water. Meanwhile, the 2% of moderates out there… the centrists, the people willing to compromise to move forward, are wondering how they ended up in the crossfire.

 

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