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On Self-Driving Cars

Robert Wenzel at Economic Policy Journal writes:

It is not uncommon to see self-driving cars being tested on the streets of San Francisco. I probably see one every other day. There are usually two people in the car, one on the driver’s side in case of an emergency.

The other day, a self-driving car was coming down a narrow street. My plan was to cross that street after the car had passed. I was facing a do not walk sign but it is the kind of stop where everyone practices anarchist calisthenics. The self-driving car had a green light but I lazily stepped off the curb to cross after the car passed but the car stopped at my crosswalk apparently because I had stepped off the curb.

If a human was driving the car, by my posture and lack of focus, it would have been easy for the human to tell I had no intention of crossing until the car had crossed. The self-driving car didn’t seem to be able to get this.

I am uncomfortable with this self-driving car stuff. The above makes sense to me. It would not surprise me if more accidents (and deaths, injuries) will be caused by self-driving cars than by human-driving ones. Will the car’s technology some day develop human instincts and judgment?

And if there needs to be a human in the car anyway (and I assume someone who must be able to drive as well), what is the point of having the car self-drive? Laziness? So the human can sit there with his face out the window like a dog?

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