Could Binghamton’s Roundabout Save Trucker Jobs?
Well, well. News comes to us this week from the NY Times that Uber has been using self-driving trucks for the last few months to move freight about Arizona.
Now, before you start hyperventilating the next time you see an 18-wheeler, keep in mind reports also say that these trucks STILL have human drivers inside. They’re around just to make sure an actual person can jump in to save the day in case of an emergency. But still: The idea of driverless cars has to send a bit of a chill down everyone’s spine.
Here’s the thing: I want to make it clear right here and now that I am super in favor of Artificial Intelligence. And not just because I know everything I type on the Internet will one day be used by our robot overlords to produce a meta score indicating how robot-friendly I was when humans still thought they ruled the earth. No, no, I just think robots are swell.
That said, everyone should know that ‘robocars’ more or less have to decide who to kill in the case of an unavoidable collision. That sort of decision--which probably happens too quickly for a human to process in any sort of profound way, will one day be made my computers all the time.
One of the things that’s most interesting about the self-driving car phenomena is the secrecy with which it’s being allowed to roll out. The Times says Uber isn’t telling us exactly how many trucks are out there or how many times the human drivers have had to take over in a sticky situation. You can be sure we’ll be hearing an awful lot about it if one causes a serious accident. For now, the trucks won't be doing local deliveries on auto because it's way more complicated than driving on the highway.
Personally, I’d like to see how an Uber AI navigates the roundabout. I think Binghamton is on to something; if we can make our streets insanely difficult to drive, we’ll have protection from the robot punchbuggy invasion.
But in the meantime, let me emphasize once again that I’m only joking and I deeply love robots. And would prefer a cage in the people zoo somewhere with a nice view--maybe something close to a river.