Sunday, 4 July 2010

Intelligent Vehicles

Both Longrider and The Englishman's Castle are worried about the deployment of data recorders in cars, and the development of "intelligent cars" which will take over to prevent you doing something stupid like drive up a one-way street.

Black boxes will record data in the event of a crash or near airbag deployment event, covering the few seconds before the incident. This will be used to ascertain who broke first and the speed each party was doing by the police and insurance companies. The Englishman says "You are being watched as you drive". As part of the continuous montioring of the motorist, I have some sympathy with this view. However I've little problem with evidence from the cars being taken to see who's lying in their insurance claim: "I was only doing 30mph..." well your car's data recorder says you rounded that bend at 60. Do you want to reconsider your account before you get done for insurance fraud? Because liars cost us all in extortionate insurance premiums.

Obviously I oppose continuous monitoring which would see data from the cars leading to speeding tickets, but in the event of an accident, clearly it's in everyone's interest to be accurate about what happened. If an option to have a recorder would lead to a lower premium, would you take it? The roads are already a benthamite panopticon, so who cares?

Intelligent cars is another issue. Longrider doesn't like the concept:

I don’t care how intelligent these cars are made, ultimately, it is the driver who is best placed to make decisions about prevailing conditions and the appropriate action to take in the event of an incident – including a mistake on their own part. A car that suddenly takes over is potentially highly dangerous.
He offers no evidence for this assertion. Cruise control is becomming more sophisticated, to the extent that new Mercedes are almost able to drive themselves on motorways. The DARPA Grand Challenge has been won, which means that autonomous cars are approaching the market. Within a few years, you may be able to get into a car, type a post-code into the dashboard shut your eyes and have a snooze until you get to your destination. Longrider again mistrusts the insurance companies, but if they accept the technology, they will do so for a reason: that one day cars will drive themselves better, safer than we can.

I hate driving. Actually that's not true. I've driven on empty roads in summer, and I've driven on tracks. That's fun, when you have a car set up for the purpose. However the daily grind to work or schlepping accross the country to see family or friends is miserable. I long to be liberated from the chore of driving. I long to be allowed to have a drink and get into a car which drives itself home. And that WILL require some form of black box, because you will need to know what happened when the technology fails and there are crashes. Insurance companies will bet that machines are better at driving than we are, but they still need to apportion blame, for that is the nature of insurance.

There is a difference between a black box used to answer questions in the event of an incident and a monitoring system which can be used against you when there hasn't been an accident. The former does not impinge on your liberty to do as you wish (without costing anyone, and that includes the insurance company, anything) and the latter which WOULD be a gross intrusion into privacy. The former is also vital to the development of autonomous vehicles, which would be a great step forward.



17 comments:

JimmyGiro said...

Isn't it odd that the more computational automation we deploy to make our lives less onerous, the more officials are created to make more bureaucracy to fill the void.

Lord T said...

I agree with you here. I believe cars will become more intelligent and coupling with other advances in technology we won't drive anywhere again except off road for fun.

I could see a black box that records everything and can be accessed by the driver as required but no other. If the driver wishes to not use it then assumptions will be made. However access should not be at plods discression as they will spend all day on fishing trips. Stop a car, access the recorder, book em. Certain criteria only.

I understand the Englishmans concern. I have it as well and we can work around it if we need to but do we? Depends how long it takes for the AI to improve. Longrider is different. He will change his mind as and when cars become more intelligent but at the moment he is right. But not for much longer.

aljahom said...

These stories about black-boxes etc have been around for 10+ years.

Maybe one day they'll get there, but between technological immaturity, cost and societal views of liberty and privacy,
it'll be a generational step-change. By which time I'll be dead or retired and won't care.

In the meantime, stories like this always prompt me to ask the same simple question:

Where's my fucking jetpack?

AJ

Anonymous said...

@ajlahome

As the owner of a motor racing team I can tell you that these "black boxes" have existed for longer than 10 years and are quite deployable ( at the moment you can actually interrogate them from the roadside with the right receiver too!)

No idea what happened to you jet pack though

Longrider said...

I shouldn't need to offer any evidence, it's common sense. You are making a manoeuvre and the car contradicts you - just think about it. Worse, these ideas have been proposed for bikes. So there you are, passing a truck that decides to move into your lane - as they do - and you hit the throttle hard to get out of the danger zone. Oh, no, says the black box, you can't exceed the speed limit and the throttle closes down - or, as you are changing line the bloody thing contradicts you and throws you from the machine. The rider or driver must be in full control at all times.

As I said, think about it. As an erstwhile professional rider, driver and instructor for both vehicle types, this idea scares me silly, because there are idiots who think it might be a good idea. The only comfort being that Lord T is most likely correct.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"I've little problem with evidence from the cars being taken to see who's lying in their insurance claim: "I was only doing 30mph..." well your car's data recorder says you rounded that bend at 60. Do you want to reconsider your account before you get done for insurance fraud? Because liars cost us all in extortionate insurance premiums."

And, of course, these wonderful black boxes could automatically issue you with a speeding fine when you came around that corner at 60mph, eh?

After all, why involve the cops when you car can do it for you?

Oh, wait: I'm getting ahead of myself...

"Excuse me, sir, you seemed to be coming around that corner very fast."

"No, I wasn't; and you can't prove it anyway."

"I'm sure you won't mind then, sir, whilst my colleague gets his top-of-the-range iPad and queries your black box then..."

""I've little problem with evidence from the cars being taken to see who's lying in their insurance claim..."

No, and I've little problem with CCTV cameras everywhere, to see who's lying about their whereabouts. And I have little problem about taking everyone's DNA, to see who's lying about not doing that rape, etc.

Shame on you, Jackart.

DK

Jackart said...

DK: I differentiate between situations where there are accidents and otherwise, my point being such black boxes are going to be crucial to the deployment of autonomous vehicles.

As my post said.

JimmyGiro said...

The problem is not the information itself, but who is responsible for the information. Is it your black-box, or theirs?

Similarly, the use and misuse of information is the issue with CCTV and DNA data. The latter for example, can be used to convict an innocent man of rape because he had consensual sex with a misandric bitch, that wants the ego trip of being a 'victim'. Meanwhile the CCTV coverage of her seducing him is conveniently lost to the court proceedings, thanks to CPS working to the incentive of conviction quotas.

Mr Ecks said...

Jackart

What you differentiate is of no matter. What matters is what the bluebottles and political scum will do with this tech. DK and Longrider are right.

Jackart said...

Data about where you are and have been is stored in your sat-nav and phone too for interrogation by police should you be suspected of anything.

That does't stop you carrying your phone or using sat-nav.

If there is an accident, there are cases to answer. black-boxes should be voluntary, but like everything on the road, the Insurance companies would put "voluntary" in inverted commas, if they made such devices subject to lower premiums (just as with immobilisers etc)

You can't be anonymous on the road - you HAVE to register your car. If you want your car to drive you one day, then this sort of system will be nessesary to see what went wrong in a crash.

The police need good reason to interrogate your cell-data. They will likewise need good reason, a crash, to interrogate your car's data recorder.

Proving who did what when in the event of a crash is NOT the same as allowing fishing expeditions amongst data. It doesn't happen with the police and your mobile phone: they ask "was the suspect there, check his phone" rather than "who was there, check everyone's phone, and see if any of them are suspects"

I don't trust the police either. But one of the side-effects of technological revolution is the fact you leave little traces of ones and zeros whereever you go. (unless you use cash and don't carry a phone).

I find the convenience of communication and security of debit cards more important than privacy. You guys are bloggers, so don't pretend you don't.

Anonymous said...

Before Big Brother is let loose in private cars, I'd recommend you buy a BMW, Jackart (preferably an M edition)...see if that doesn't restore your love of driving ;-)!

Jackart said...

I drive a perfectly servicable Alfa. Why would I risk the hatred of other road users by getting behind the wheel of a BMW?

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Well, I'm a little surprised at you Jackart, and I'll give you one reason for each of after accident black-box analysis and driving by 'intelligent machine'.

Concerning the black-box analysis, what about all those who proudly claim: 'never had an accident, but seen a lot in my rear-view mirror'? Will they too have their black boxes examined, at the end of each day?

Concerning driving by 'intelligent machines', I reckon a large proportion of accidents are caused by 2 minor mistakes: the problem is their coincidence, not that they each individually occurred.

And, of course, as mentioned above, the mirror lookers are not the ones invariably involved in the collision. But with black boxes, all or some blame would be attributed to those involved. No matter how good we are (and indeed some drivers are much worse than others), we are not perfect. Can you really see government not blaming someone they have in their sights (or at the roadside), when they have yet more technology 'spying' on everyone?

Now, give me a machine that can read the road as can a good driver; who can see an accident in the making 3 seconds before the first mistake is really and actually made, and be (by then) not there. Then you can have your dream.

Yes, I've seen the videos of these beautiful automated machines driving safely along a motorway: the real world is somehow missing. And I say this as someone who works in machine intelligence, and would love all that 'wonderful' work to be used. If you want this, start with aeroplanes (at least they have 3 dimensions to move in and already land automatically - providing they get to go alone). You can go flying without a pilot first: I'll follow after a half century, after all the other human pilots (and birds) have been phased out!

Best regards

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Jackart writes: "Data about where you are and have been is stored in your sat-nav and phone too for interrogation by police should you be suspected of anything."

It's the suspected of 'anything' that worries me.

Jackart writes: "If there is an accident, there are cases to answer."

Sometimes, yes; but not always.

Jackart writes: "You can't be anonymous on the road - you HAVE to register your car."

Indeed, but I want enquires about my car to be distinctly limited to cases where there is 'probably cause' for the police to investigate. That means, as well as probable involvement, that the matter is serious enough to invoke a breach of privacy.

Somehow, I suspect that Jackart has a much weaker test than do I, on such things.

Jackart writes: "The police need good reason to interrogate your cell-data. They will likewise need good reason, a crash, to interrogate your car's data recorder."

Really. I reckon they will find being 'involved in a crash' is enough. After all, it is to breathalyse drivers.

Jackart writes: "Proving who did what when in the event of a crash is NOT the same as allowing fishing expeditions amongst data. It doesn't happen with the police and your mobile phone: ..."

Can Jackart assure me that no person involved in a car crash has their mobile phone records examined, to see if (s)he was on the phone and that might have contributed to the crash: that is unless there is other evidence of probable mobile phone use?

Jackart writes: "I don't trust the police either."

The above indicates you trust them more than I do.

Jackart writes: "But one of the side-effects of technological revolution is the fact you leave little traces of ones and zeros whereever you go. (unless you use cash and don't carry a phone). I find the convenience of communication and security of debit cards more important than privacy. You guys are bloggers, so don't pretend you don't."

I'd like the judgement determined by a search warrant (or my written permission), and every failure to find after issue of a search warrant being followed up, at the 'suspect's option, by the applicant police officer being before the magistrate who accepted his request for a warrant, and the 'suspect' questioning the police officer's judgement and suitability for office. I'd also like every application turned down for lack of severity of the suspected crime to be reported to the 'suspect', for similar action.

But I'd also like real criminals to be banged up for so long that their actual or attempted crime, factoring in a fair 'probability' of being caught, would be much less than worth it.

Best regards

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Jackart writes: "Data about where you are and have been is stored in your sat-nav and phone too for interrogation by police should you be suspected of anything."

It's the suspected of 'anything' that worries me.

Jackart writes: "If there is an accident, there are cases to answer."

Sometimes, yes; but not always.

Jackart writes: "You can't be anonymous on the road - "

I want enquires about me to be distinctly limited to where there is 'probably cause'. That means, as well as probable involvement, that the matter is serious enough for a breach of privacy.

On such things, IHO, Jackart has a much weaker test than I do.

Jackart writes: "The police need good reason to interrogate your cell-data. They will likewise need good reason, a crash, to interrogate your car's data recorder."

Really. I reckon they think being 'involved in a crash' is enough. After all, it is to breathalyse drivers.

Jackart writes: "Proving who did what when in the event of a crash is NOT the same as allowing fishing expeditions amongst data. It doesn't happen with the police and your mobile phone: ..."

Can Jackart assure me that no one involved in a car crash has their mobile phone records examined, to see if that might have contributed to the crash: that is unless there is other evidence of probable use?

Jackart writes: "I don't trust the police either."

The above indicates you trust them more than I do.

Jackart writes: "But one of the side-effects of technological revolution is the fact you leave little traces of ones and zeros whereever you go. ... I find the convenience of communication and security of debit cards more important than privacy."

I'd like the judgement determined by a search warrant (or my written permission), and every failure to find after issue of a warrant being followed up, at the 'suspect's option, by the applicant being before the magistrate who accepted his request for a warrant, and the 'suspect' questioning the officer's judgement and suitability for that office. I'd also like every application turned down for lack of severity of the suspected crime to be reported to the 'suspect', for similar action.

But I'd also like real criminals to be banged up for so long that their actual or attempted crime, factoring in a fair 'probability' of being caught, would be much less than worth it.

Best regards

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Well, that was interesting. Google twice said my comment was too long (so I shortened it, twice) and it published the first 2 attempts anyway.

Best regards

D-Rex said...

If and when we get "smart vehicles" will I still need insurance. If I'm not driving the thing, but am merely a passengar whilst the manufacturers software and hardware does the driving, how can I be held responsible for an accident?

There was an error in this gadget