Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Thesh » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:42 pm UTC

If Google's self-driving cars hadn't already been driving around safely for several years now, putting on well over a million miles, you might have a point, but their record is better than the average driver. Sure, there's still stuff that needs to be worked out, but technology moves fast these days.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:44 pm UTC

Well, yes, to a degree. That's why we got it first. Simple automation is easier and faster than harder automation. As a species, we mostly went after the low hanging fruit first. We should expect increasingly more difficult things to be automated as we get better at it.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:53 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:On the other hand, you're not endangering your own life and the lives of others by making toast.

(And yes, I know that technically a toaster could start an electrical fire. But if you're making toast and you pay so little attention that you don't notice it happening, that's your problem.)

That's making the decision based on whether anyone can blame you, not whether anyone gets hurt.

If you're trying to make sure that no one ever wags their finger at you from a political perspective, maybe you refuse to rely on machines and focus on doing everything perfectly.

If you're trying to ensure that your actions are not endangering those around you, then you should go with the method that has a better safety record -- you use automated cars, you actually get measles shots for your kids, you don't rely on homeopathic medicine, and in general, you don't make decisions like a head-in-the-sand Luddite.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:57 pm UTC

I like how anybody who doesn't trust automated navigation to handle the complexities of real-world driving situations is just blanketly anti-technology and probably into homeopathy. That's definitely how that works.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items, etc)

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:07 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Humans can't maintain the kind of focus that's reallyfe driving. Computers can.

So, what, the huge numbers of people who drive daily and don't get in accidents or endanger others just don't exist?
No. They are safe enough and lucky enough that they mostly avoid accidents. Saying they don't endanger anyone is begging the question. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second potentially endangers people, you're just usually lucky and nothing gets in your way in that time.

Most drunk drivers don't get into accidents on any given trip, either, but that doesn't mean driving drunk is ever safe.

And concentration isn't the issue with computer-driven cars. The extremely poor adaptability and generally poor judgement of automatic navigation software is.
Yes, the disadvantage compared to human drivers is judgment. The advantage is concentration. Judgment has room to improve and almost certainly will, and concentration is unlikely to get any worse in the process, so at some point the two together will end up better overall than a human driver.

In addition to the toaster analogy, consider antilock brakes. They are (or at least were initially) not as good as an expert driver who know exactly how hard to push the brake pedal to avoid locking, but they are far better than the average driver with a "slam your foot down and pray" stopping technique. ANd since most drivers are not experts, antilock brakes improve overall safety.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby elasto » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:11 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:I like how anybody who doesn't trust automated navigation to handle the complexities of real-world driving situations is just blanketly anti-technology and probably into homeopathy. That's definitely how that works.


The issue is that by you saying "On the other hand, you're not endangering your own life and the lives of others by making toast" you're ignoring the fact that you endanger your own life and the lives of others every time you get behind the wheel.

If automated vehicles kill 500k people a year through buggy or insufficiently advanced algorithms, that's still 500k less a year than humans kill. We don't need perfection, merely incremental improvement.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Quercus » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:19 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:If Google's self-driving cars hadn't already been driving around safely for several years now, putting on well over a million miles, you might have a point, but their record is better than the average driver. Sure, there's still stuff that needs to be worked out, but technology moves fast these days.

California is notable for being three things: big, warm and dry (mostly - and everywhere I've seen the cars driving fits this description). Therefore I wonder how much of those million plus miles were carried out in adverse conditions? Every video of autonomous cars I've ever seen has been filmed in the dry, on wide, well marked roads, and with at most moderate traffic. I wonder how well an autonomous car would handle a mountain pass in a blizzard, a cobbled street with no road markings or an icy country lane in the dark*. And a truly autonomous car must be able to handle these edge cases to at least the same degree a good human driver could (because everyone believes they are a good driver, no-one is going to buy an autonomous car that is worse than a good driver would be).

This is why I see optionally-autonomous cars arriving within a small number of years, but fully autonomous cars (that someone without a licence would be allowed to use) taking an awful lot longer than that.

*That's not saying that an autonomous car couldn't handle those. It's mostly a question of development time devoted to it, and I suspect there probably hasn't been that much so far, except possibly from the military, because there is still much lower hanging fruit.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Thesh » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:26 pm UTC

Yeah, they don't currently handle weather, but that's just a matter of time, development, and testing.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Dauric » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:33 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:This is why I see optionally-autonomous cars arriving within a small number of years, but fully autonomous cars (that someone without a licence would be allowed to use) taking an awful lot longer than that.


I actually think the former will accelerate the development of the latter, at least given a 'cell-phone' mentality to features. With constant internet communication (mostly for maps.google.com), and most sensors requiring trivial amounts of energy (at least compared to propelling a car), odds are the partially-autonomous vehicles will be recording the driver's actions in adverse conditions and sending that information back to Google for analysis.

Not that there aren't privacy concerns with such a system, but I suspect Google lawyers have already drafted an early version of the agreement legalese, and marketers have carefully crafted the question "Would you like to participate in our systems improvement initiative?" that will accompany the conveniently pre-checked opt-in checkbox.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Thesh » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:36 pm UTC

If I understand correctly, that's how they are developing the cars today. They record driver's movements and use machine learning algorithms to train the cars how to drive.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Dauric » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:41 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:If I understand correctly, that's how they are developing the cars today. They record driver's movements and use machine learning algorithms to train the cars how to drive.


Right, but they're not recording the actions of a few million John and Jane Q. Public drivers, they're recording the actions of their staff of test engineers (who are mostly in Sunny Cali). If they can get a larger database of driving information it would vastly accelerate their development.

Given how blase' most of us are with regards to our cell phones tracking our positions (and even those who post everything to social media) I'm not sure that such a program would raise enough objections to make it a failure.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:59 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:I like how anybody who doesn't trust automated navigation to handle the complexities of real-world driving situations is just blanketly anti-technology and probably into homeopathy. That's definitely how that works.


If you don't trust the concept as a whole, then yeah, that's pretty equivalent. If you have specific concerns over an implementation, that's different.

Being an anti-vaxxer is being anti-science. Pointing out specific shortcomings with a given inoculation is not. Being scientific is, in large part, about using methodology correctly to pursue accuracy.

Nobody contests that current implementations have shortcomings in some respects. We just don't generalize that to "self driving cars are terrible".

Dauric wrote:
Thesh wrote:If I understand correctly, that's how they are developing the cars today. They record driver's movements and use machine learning algorithms to train the cars how to drive.


Right, but they're not recording the actions of a few million John and Jane Q. Public drivers, they're recording the actions of their staff of test engineers (who are mostly in Sunny Cali). If they can get a larger database of driving information it would vastly accelerate their development.


Having worked on many software development teams, I significantly doubt the accuracy of this statement.

There is a time and place for vast quantities of data, but there's also a time and a place for expert testers. You don't do your open beta first.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:20 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If you don't trust the concept as a whole, then yeah, that's pretty equivalent. If you have specific concerns over an implementation, that's different.

I don't trust the implementors (i.e. human beings.) I'm not saying it's a technical impossibility, I just don't think that we're likely to be good enough at automated systems design and programming to make it practically safe and reliable any time soon, if ever.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby elasto » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:28 pm UTC

Depends what you mean by 'practically safe and reliable'.

If you mean 100% safe and reliable, no, it'll never be that. If you mean better than humans (who are hardly the acme of safety and reliability), well, the article's estimate of 2040 doesn't seem a million miles adrift.

I don't trust the implementors (i.e. human beings.)


Don't worry. Before too long machines will be the ones doing the coding, not just the driving. Eventually frail and fallible human beings will be entirely out of the picture!
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:29 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you don't trust the concept as a whole, then yeah, that's pretty equivalent. If you have specific concerns over an implementation, that's different.

I don't trust the implementors (i.e. human beings.) I'm not saying it's a technical impossibility, I just don't think that we're likely to be good enough at automated systems design and programming to make it practically safe and reliable any time soon, if ever.


It has nothing to do with trust. I mean...do you trust those same people to drive? Because that's happening right now.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It has nothing to do with trust. I mean...do you trust those same people to drive? Because that's happening right now.

Yes I do, because the skillset for driving primarily depends on things that humans have aeons of adaptation towards being good at (spatial reasoning/judgement, an instinctive understanding of basic physics, navigation, recognition of environmental cues for weather conditions, etc.) The skillset for developing adaptable artificial intelligences? Not so much.

elasto wrote:Don't worry. Before too long machines will be the ones doing the coding, not just the driving. Eventually frail and fallible human beings will be entirely out of the picture!

So the humans who make lots of mistakes in their programming are somehow going to program a program to program programs without making mistakes that has no mistakes? Right. Just after we finally get that perpetual motion thing solved, I'm sure.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:38 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:It has nothing to do with trust. I mean...do you trust those same people to drive? Because that's happening right now.

Yes I do, because the skillset for driving primarily depends on things that humans have aeons of adaptation towards being good at (spatial reasoning/judgement, an instinctive understanding of basic physics, navigation, recognition of environmental cues for weather conditions, etc.) The skillset for developing adaptable artificial intelligences? Not so much.


I'd argue that we do not, in fact, have aeons of adaptations for controlling a ton or so of steel going sixty mph.

At least, no more so than we do for forming logical constructs, the basis of code.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Grop » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:39 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Depends what you mean by 'practically safe and reliable'.


Tested for years in a country that isn't mine. (Yes you weren't talking to me). Well tested in my country would be a good test as well, but I'd rather not be driving in the meantime so it wouldn't be practical.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:43 pm UTC

Are the parameters different? Sure. But the basic skills themselves are largely the same. We've been driving carts practically since the beginning of recorded civilization, and we've been doing all that other stuff literally since before Homo sapiens was a thing.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:55 pm UTC

Cars are heavier and much faster than carts, and aren't pushed or pulled with muscle power that provides immediate intuitable feedback.

We are demonstrably terrible at driving cars, we're just willing to put up with the death rate because they're so convenient.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby addams » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:03 pm UTC

Hacking is my largest safety concern.
There must be an easy way to make hacking less problematic.

When I use cruse control, a tap on the brakes releases cruse control.
When using auto drive, the hand at the wheel must be able to override the auto drive.

From what I understand, it does not now.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:03 pm UTC

Most people (that drive cars) are actually at least passable at driving cars. It's the outliers that are terrible. And again, I mostly just doubt that we're going to prove to be any better at programming computers that drive cars.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:08 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:Most people (that drive cars) are actually at least passable at driving cars. It's the outliers that are terrible. And again, I mostly just doubt that we're going to prove to be any better at programming computers that drive cars.

You have no idea just how bad a driver you are, do you? Have you ever slammed on the brakes? You're a bad driver. Have you ever tail gated someone? You're a bad driver. Have you ever accelerated more than you should have? You're a bad driver. Have you ever turned on the radio or talked to a friend in your car? You're a bad driver. The list goes on...

PS Your evolutionary defects are the reason you think you're a good driver, and robots are bad.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:11 pm UTC

If by "bad driver" we mean "not a perfect driver," I suppose so. (Thing I learned from this conversation: good driver-hood is like getting into Heaven: one sin, ever, and you're out.) But then, automated cars are quite terrible by that standard (but they'll totally get better Real Soon Now!) and not even as adaptable as a human driver.

sardia wrote:PS Your evolutionary defects are the reason you think you're a good driver, and robots are bad.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:21 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:Most people (that drive cars) are actually at least passable at driving cars. It's the outliers that are terrible. And again, I mostly just doubt that we're going to prove to be any better at programming computers that drive cars.
You don't know most people. That would be an opinion. Having said that, if instead you mean that 6 million or so accidents in the US in 2013 isn't to bad, ok. See this chart. It seems obvious to me that cars and roads are getting better, not people. Unless you are thinking that we have evolved in a hundred or so years. However you are right. This technology isn't currently ready for prime time.Image

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby ucim » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:25 pm UTC

addams wrote:When I use cruse control, a tap on the brakes releases cruse control.
When using auto drive, the hand at the wheel must be able to override the auto drive.
The thing is, by the time you get your hand on the wheel, it's too late. If you're paying enough attention to get there in time, you might as well be driving. If not, you might as well be a passenger in the back seat.

As to that chart (above) - how does this demonstrate that it's not people that are getting better? It might be true, but (1) is it relevant? and (2) how does the chart show it? In any case, it's clear that, without autodriving cars, something is getting better.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:30 pm UTC

Yeah, I will admit that that's a statement of opinion - but it's one I'll stand by. Looking at your chart, notice how sharply the fatalities-per-distance measure drops off between ~1910 (when cars were almost exclusively a plaything of the rich) and 1950 (when they had become, in the aftermath of WWII, a standard fixture of even lower middle-class American life.) Certainly some of that is due to improvements in car design, but we've certainly made comparable strides in that department since 1950 yet the curve has flattened out more and more over that period. Look at the period since 1990 (when "crumple zones" started to become standard) and it's pretty nearly flat.

From that, I conclude that it's certainly not strictly a function of car design; I would hypothesize that it also has a lot to do with society in general developing a sensible set of rules and ethics for driver behavior (something which changed drastically in the 1910-1950 window, but hasn't really changed much at all since the late '60s, corresponding much more neatly to the gradual flattening out of the curve.) Or, in other words, people got better at driving (with a few decades of practice and reassessment.)
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:30 pm UTC

Morris, your chart is too generous to people. For one thing, cars are safer now, so nonfatal collisions aren't counted. For example, commodorejohn rear ends another person. 25 years ago, that person would most likely be dead, and thus counted, but now he lives with a bruise from his airbag.

Pastrychef, I think you asked me earlier why the freedom to drive is artificial. It's artificial in that it's a social construct built to get you to spend money. I liken it to love symbolized by diamonds. It's impact is real, but artificially implanted into your head. Cars actually imprison you since all the space taken up by roads and parking spots makes travel harder. 1/3 of cities are parking lots and roads. That's a total waste of space, not to mention how it impairs nonvehicular traffic. Now my walking, biking, trains, etc etc are 33% less efficient because we had to build big roads for cars to travel on, and then even more parking lots for cars to stay at.

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PS commodorejohn, you rely too much on your instincts. They are merely a rubric to get you mostly through life, it shouldn't be used to find out how the world works.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:32 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Pastrychef, I think you asked me earlier why the freedom to drive is artificial. It's artificial in that it's a social construct built to get you to spend money. I liken it to love symbolized by diamonds. It's impact is real, but artificially implanted into your head.

Feh. This is just another variant of the classic "you don't really believe what you believe, you just think you do" Standard Internet Argument Ploy. Is there industry with a vested interest in promoting driving? Sure. But that doesn't mean that nobody who likes driving does so legimately.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Derek » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:55 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:So the humans who make lots of mistakes in their programming are somehow going to program a program to program programs without making mistakes that has no mistakes? Right. Just after we finally get that perpetual motion thing solved, I'm sure.

Can humans who can't be a chess gransmaster program a computer that can beat a chess grandmaster? Can humans who can't write efficient assembly program a computer to produce efficient assembly?

The answer to both of these is yes.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:01 am UTC

commodorejohn wrote:From that, I conclude that it's certainly not strictly a function of car design
What it means is that there was a lot of data to change how we did things, including law and road design. For instance we have stop signs because when we didn't people killed each other. And so on. If the curve is flat one other interpretation of it is that we have improved the car so much that now the driver is the biggest flaw left unfixed. I suggest that rather than assert it. One belief that I will classify as faulty is the idea that normal driving teaches you skills other than normal driving. What happens when things go bad require another set of skills. And this in the most approachable example that I can think of shows in antilock breaks. The unpracticed individual will, in most cases, stomp on the break pedal. They can't tell that even though the break is depressed and the wheels are locked that traction has been lost and breaking at that point is doing more harm than good. The sensors in the wheel know that wheel motion has ceased and that it should release since sliding friction is less than the friction produced while the wheel is still moving and not locked. That isn't quite right, but close enough.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:11 am UTC

commodorejohn wrote:From that, I conclude that it's certainly not strictly a function of car design; I would hypothesize that it also has a lot to do with society in general developing a sensible set of rules and ethics for driver behavior (something which changed drastically in the 1910-1950 window, but hasn't really changed much at all since the late '60s, corresponding much more neatly to the gradual flattening out of the curve.) Or, in other words, people got better at driving (with a few decades of practice and reassessment.)
The curve only appears to flatten out relative to how atrociously dangerous cars were in the first half of the century.

The peak in the late 1960s appears to be about 55 deaths per billion VMT, whereas now that's at about 11. Proportionately, that's the same size drop as the one from the beginning of the chart to 1950, where you admit things changed "drastically".
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:04 am UTC

ucim wrote:As to that chart (above) - how does this demonstrate that it's not people that are getting better? It might be true, but (1) is it relevant? and (2) how does the chart show it? In any case, it's clear that, without autodriving cars, something is getting better.
Missed you. If it suits you to think that man has improved that much than who am I to say your wrong. However I can demonstrate the improvement in roads and cars. Contrary to the students of, Georgia Tech was it, speed limits are pretty well thought out and enforcement is lax enough to give the system room to breath, as well as keep it from bankrupting us by trying to enforce the letter of the law versus the spirit.

Things like road finish and improvements to how they drain and the amount of grab the give to the wheel. Curve radius, terrain adjustments(my father used to run the auto version of the vomit comet). Better signage, street lighting, better car lights, better windshield wipers, lane markers both in paint and reflectors, rumble strips and guard rails and separation barriers. At least in the US uniform signage, driver testing and physical limits on both commercial drivers and personal drivers. And a large body of law with insurance to take care of the victims.

Cars themselves are more efficient, stop quicker, brake fade has been reduced, steering geometries are tighter, materials are better and cars are crash tested so that we have metrics rather than rubrics. Interior design and flammability of interior materials have be improved, as well as putting padding on those damn hard dashes I grew up with. And I have six different airbags in my car. We also have bureaucracies to see that nobody goes off the reservation too far, cars manufacturers in particular. And we track statistics.

In the meantime, humans grew a little taller, became healthier, better educated. The time for the mile was first recorded as 4:12¾ in 1886 improved to 3:43.13 in 1999. And we may have got a little smarter.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby ucim » Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:35 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Missed you. If it suits you to think that man has improved that much than who am I to say your wrong.
I don't actually think that; I actually agree with you that it's the cars and roads and laws that got better. My point was that the chart does not indicate why. The chart just says things got better, but does not give any information about causes.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Quercus » Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:14 am UTC

sardia wrote:Pastrychef, I think you asked me earlier why the freedom to drive is artificial. It's artificial in that it's a social construct built to get you to spend money. I liken it to love symbolized by diamonds. It's impact is real, but artificially implanted into your head. Cars actually imprison you since all the space taken up by roads and parking spots makes travel harder. 1/3 of cities are parking lots and roads. That's a total waste of space, not to mention how it impairs nonvehicular traffic. Now my walking, biking, trains, etc etc are 33% less efficient because we had to build big roads for cars to travel on, and then even more parking lots for cars to stay at.

Your argument is fair in an urban environment. Outside of that the situation is much less clear. For example, I used to fly gliders as a hobby. This required the 10-20 members of the glider club to come from homes within about a 50 mile radius and arrive at an airfield several miles outside a small village by 9am on a Saturday morning. There is no public transport system in the world that would make that possible. I also windsurf, sail, kayak and rock climb. All of these hobbies require me to access remote locations at unsociable hours with a large amount of equipment. Driving has demonstrably increased my level of personal freedom. I don't have a car where I'm living now, because London is a city with an excellent public transport network and it's not necessary to own a car to move around freely. Do I keep a car back at my parents' house in Wales so I can pursue my hobbies when I go back there - you bet I do.

As for the enjoyment of driving itself, that's certainly real in my case, and I would doubt that it comes from marketing by the car industry, because it's the same enjoyment I get from lots of my other hobbies - it's the joy of carrying out a complex and potentially dangerous process competently and safely. It's a kind of self-competetiveness - lets see whether I can drive really, really well today. I'm willing to give up that source of enjoyment for the sake of increased safety*, but I don't think it's fair to say that that enjoyment is somehow not real.

Edit: Actually, I've just realised that for hiking and kayaking I'd bloody love an autonomous car - I could get it to drop me off at the start point, then drive to the end point where I can meet it later. That would make the logistics of the thing far easier.

*mainly increased safety for others - I find the risk profile of driving to be perfectly acceptable on a personal level.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:26 pm UTC

Sure, there can be real joy in driving. People genuinely enjoy lots of dangerous liesure activities that have been restricted or banned in many places in the interests of public safety.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:08 pm UTC

EDIT: Ninja'd
Last edited by KrytenKoro on Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:16 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:13 pm UTC

ucim wrote:I don't actually think that; I actually agree with you that it's the cars and roads and laws that got better. My point was that the chart does not indicate why. The chart just says things got better, but does not give any information about causes.
Sorry, I assumed it was obvious.

@Quercus

I'm glad you enjoy driving. Your greater wealth gives you the ability to use a car in a lot of different ways, but to any number of people it is what it is, a money sink, and a way to get from point a to point b, something they have to own. They can't afford to leave a car sitting if they can't use it. Having said that, I don't see this as a all or nothing game. But in that longer term I could foresee restrictions on where you can exercise that joy. I guess that because of the expense and the possible higher operating costs that private car ownership could be reduced if not eliminated. Or that with the greater safety that is predicted, you could see very light conveyances that would be perfectly safe. Someone is trying to develop a motorcycle stabilized by a gyroscope. That way you could enclose the driver completely. One of my pet peeves with cars is using a 3000 pound vehicle to move a 150 pound passenger.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby Quercus » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:49 pm UTC

I totally understand that being able to use a car the way I do is a privilege I possess due to both comparative wealth and living in a country with decent public transport networks (as well as being in the unusual situation of having parents who are willing to make use of and maintain my car when I'm not there, and let me use it again when I go and visit them).

It would indeed be a negative thing to have to own a car, rather than choose to, and I'm all in favour of innovations which make car ownership unnecessary. I would love to live in a car-free city for example.

The point I was making was that there are genuine costs to doing away with driving. We may decide that these costs are worth it, but we should not forget that they exist. It's not so much the cars that are important, but the idea that you can go anywhere, at any time, without having to plan it in advance. A world where people can't decide at midnight that they want to go to the sea and watch the sunrise is a duller, less magical world, and I would rather work towards a world where everyone can do things like that, instead of no-one being able to. I see car-sharing schemes like Zipcar being a good solution here.

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Re: Cars discussion, split from 'other news'

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

In an ideal sense autonomous cars may achieve that goal, even for people who can't see that sunset, but want to enjoy it with their friends.


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