If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Who will clean self-driving vehicles? I found myself wondering this recently as my son and I tidied the family car after a road trip. We'd been driving for only five hours, but we had produced two grocery bags of trash: water bottles, parking stubs, wrappers from lunchtime hoagies, reading material, a roll of Scotch tape, and a ping-pong ball among other miscellany that had accumulated over the short time. In my family, I'm the one who remembers to clean out the car, so I'm all too familiar with the volume and medley of mess that can be generated in vehicle regularly used by adults and kids.
In 1938, when there were just about one-tenth the number of cars on U.S. roadways as there are today, a brilliant psychologist and a pragmatic engineer joined forces to write one of the most influential works ever published on driving. A self-driving car's killing of a pedestrian in Arizona highlights how their work is still relevant today – especially regarding the safety of automated and autonomous vehicles. James Gibson, the psychologist in question, and the engineer Laurence Crooks, his partner, evaluated a driver's control of a vehicle in two ways. The first was to measure what they called the "minimum stopping zone," the distance it would take to stop after the driver slammed on the brakes. The second was to look at the driver's psychological perception of the possible hazards around the vehicle, which they called the "field of safe travel."
Were you aware that 3,285 people were killed today, in a war that has been going on for decades, and that each year at least 20 million people have been injured in that same war? Well, it is not surprising, as this particular war is not well publicized, and rarely makes the news. This is the war that takes place between frail-bodied people -- often women and children -- and that unforgiving machine of destruction, the motor car. If that many people were killed and injured in a war anywhere in the world, it would definitely make headline news. As it is, the carnage is swept up, the bodies buried, and everyone tries not to notice.
Were you aware that 3,285 people were killed today, in a war that has been going on for decades, and that each year at least 20 million people have been injured in that same war? Well, it is not surprising, as this particular war is not well publicised, and rarely makes the news. This is the war that takes place between frail bodied people, often women, and children, and that unforgiving machine of destruction, the motor car. If that many people were killed, and injured, in a war anywhere in the world, it would definitely make headline news. As it is, the carnage is swept up, the bodies buried, and everyone tries not to notice.
It looks bleak out there for autonomous vehicles. A pedestrian was killed in the first self-driving car accident with an Uber test vehicle, and then a driver in a semi-autonomous Tesla fatally crashed into a highway barrier. Earlier this month, a terrifying video purportedly showed Tesla's Autopilot feature sending a car straight into danger. But despite the setbacks to self-driving industry, I can't help but be optimistic that pedestrian, driver, and passenger deaths will keep going down. As this new technology is tested and developed, the road will get safer and safer.
A consumer group, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, says a bill on self-driving cars now stalled in the U.S. Senate is an opportunity to improve safety, quite different from the bill's original intent to quickly allow testing of self-driving cars without human controls on public roads. The group has proposed amending the bill, the AV START Act, to set standards for those vehicles, for instance, requiring a "vision test" for automated vehicles to test what their different sensors actually see.
Everyone working in the autonomous vehicle space said it was inevitable. In America--and in the rest of the world--cars kill people, around 40,000 in the US and 1.25 million in the globe each year. Self-driving cars would be better. But no one promised perfection. Still, the death of Elaine Herzberg, struck by a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Arizona, two weeks ago, felt like a shock.
Self-driving cars have gotten so advanced in recent years that many proponents believe humans should be banned from driving altogether. But the boss of Google's Waymo, which is widely considered to be the leader in autonomous vehicle testing, doesn't agree. At a media event in New York City, Waymo CEO John Krafcik was asked whether he believed the rise of self-driving cars would eventually remove the need for human drivers. 'Good heavens, no,' Krafcik told Jalopnik. John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, stands with the Jaguar I-Pace vehicle on Tuesday.
A typical Uber driver has clearly defined responsibilities. Arrive on time, know your route, keep your car clean, and, most importantly, safely deliver your passenger to their destination. Sitting behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber--or any autonomous vehicle, for that matter--is, paradoxically, more complicated. A recent, tragic incident in which a self-driving Uber struck and killed a 49-year-old pedestrian, while a safety driver sat behind the wheel, has stirred up many conversations about blame, regulations, and the overall readiness of autonomous tech. The lingering question, however, is how we humans fit into this picture.
A fatal crash that occurred when an autonomous SUV operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian could have better been avoided if a human was in control of the vehicle, some experts believe. Footage of the incident, which occurred on Sunday in Tempe, Arizona, and resulted in the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was released by the local police Wednesday. Experts have suggested that Uber's self-driving technology should have been able to avoid the crash and failed to do so. Experts believe a human driver could have avoided a fatal accident involving Uber's self-driving SUV. The video includes footage from a dashboard camera showing a view outside the car, as well as a view of the operator employed by Uber sitting behind the wheel of the vehicle and take over if the autonomous system does not work as intended.