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Mobileye has just turned into the darling of the stock market. The Israel-based company and others are competing to develop technologies that "assist" drivers in avoiding collisions with other cars and pedestrians. And the car makers are eating it up.

They are now cutting deals for "building out driverless capabilities" in BMW cars. And so their windshield sensor technology -- which as a windshield device bears similar user arguments to GPS and the earlier radar detectors -- was a way to freight in the driverless argument. GPS itself encourages users to relinquish brain sovereignty, but it did not exactly imperil humans. Radar detectors were problematic in their own obvious ways. But this is something new.

"It teaches people not to think for themselves," said my son, Abraham. On a broader note, if the developer is thinking for manufacturers, and the manufacturer is thinking for drivers, then who is thinking for bicyclists and pedestrians?

What if people get habituated to a device beeping or flashing to warn them they are about to hit someone, and they later borrow a car without this device, or their own device fails, or they fail to hear the signal for some reason?

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My prediction for the driver-less future; as the saying goes, "fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride!"

11 second video of Betty Davis.

Incredible. And just today Mobileye and BMW had announced a major deal. Note that this will cause temporary alarm to humans but it will not faze designers and the auto industry one bit. They will tout statistics, say that this could happen to a human driver, and we'll all be heading back onto the road toward our common destination of technical Valhalla.

How can you be so confident? Is GPS really doing a better job than human directions and atlases, or just more of a job? When will you publish the results of these studies?

I had to de-activate my auto pilot. The damn thing drove way too aggressively, failed every breathalyzer test I administered to it and flipped off every other driver in its vicinity. I upgraded the software with some freeware I got from HotSh! and its never worked right since.

This isn't the place for a lengthy debate, but to say and assume that GPS does a better job of anything requires a lot more support than your mere testimony. There are many flaws in digital map technologies that may never be reconciled. You might be too young to appreciate how paper maps can be carried, exploited, scaled, marked, folded, unfolded, cut, traced, abused, reoriented, unplugged, measured, memorized, redrawn. Digital maps and GPS are fleeting and, amazingly enough, they do not do what maps are supposed to do: they actually disorient us. We can like GPS for some limited applications. But we should be careful before making blanket assumptions about the excellences of digital technologies.

Another thing we are taking for granted here is that giant trucks should share the same lanes as frail bicyclists, and that bulky freight containers should share the same roads as small automated cars. We need not, and probably should not, rely on fallible sensors and controls to save lives. In the long run, there are too many exceptions. You can't assume that machines are infallible, and not only because they are programmed by fallible humans, but also because they can experience inherent failures like power glitches and memory problems that are only tenuously due to human error.

Not to belabor the point, but I have been observing users of these forms for many years. Virtually all subjects I have interviewed are unable even to identify north while using GPS systems, let alone where they are in relation to an origin point. In contrast, map users are almost always able to orient north. If you are the outlier who is not disoriented by GPS displays, it may have something to do with the fact that you grew up on paper forms. But we are not talking about being disoriented, we are talking about life and death. Elon Musk's first public statement was that the driver indemnified Tesla. Instead of focusing on a truly tragic death caused at least in part by his software, he is simply looking forward, as if this man were a laboratory rat. That does not sit well with me.

Ah, now you are the one making assumptions. Of course 50,000 deaths a year is tragic. I have thought it out so thoroughly that I have changed my life in reaction to it. I've developed high technology for 40 years, and I guess I'm just not as sanguine as you about the prospects. It is the very premise of the automobile, with its asphalt pavement and steering wheels, that makes it dangerous. Computers, I can tell you as one who knows, will always be quite fallible and as capable as humans of being responsible for death. Pasting technology onto the premise of 250 million automobiles with their long commutes and joyrides is, very probably, only going to cause more cars and more death, not less. But you just watch. You were welcoming it; I am rejecting it.

"Not persuasive" is a pseudo-scientist's code for insult. You've provided nothing but opinion with no authority to back it up (compass arrows on GPS solves the problem? please learn something about UX!). One thing about your being 59, I'm sure as hell not going to change your mind, and probably nobody else is either.

Well, now you're just baiting me.

You see, sir, the problem with your preferences is that they affect my life. You haven't yet accounted for a man's death in a Tesla. You're fine with it. I'm not. I'm afraid it's you who have to convince me and the rest of the world, not by simply the facts of market penetration, but in other ways, that devices like this are not harmful to us. It could have been me in that car, or someone I care about. I don't want to rely on that, and yet your naive thrill is going to foist it on me.

The GPS analogy is quite proper here: you say, I can have paper maps if I can find them. Well, I would love to find one. But your inept, technocratically presumptuous consumer choices force me and others to adapt, in all ways, at all times, and change our lives often for the worse. Let's say the automatic car puts four times the number of vehicles on the road, but they reduce accidents by 50%. If in 2026 we are at 100,000 automobile deaths a year, not to mention increased vehicular pollution, due to your blithe "feelings," think back to 2016 and this conversation. I'll be on the train, where it's safe.

Mobileye and Tesla: "We speak Jive."

One of my favorite scenes was when the stewardess had to resuscitate the auto pilot. The technology apparently does have its limits.

The Cheese Head autopilot will save my bacon!

Notice his calm assurance and the very impressive wings on his uniform. The passengers and crew on that flight have nothing to worry about.



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