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  • “Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting”

    Posted by Jonathan on October 17th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Amid a historic spike in U.S. traffic fatalities, federal data on the danger of distracted driving are getting worse“:

    Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent. In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade. Regulators, meanwhile, still have no good idea why crash-related deaths are spiking: People are driving longer distances but not tremendously so; total miles were up just 2.2 percent last year. Collectively, we seemed to be speeding and drinking a little more, but not much more than usual. Together, experts say these upticks don’t explain the surge in road deaths.
     
    There are however three big clues, and they don’t rest along the highway. One, as you may have guessed, is the substantial increase in smartphone use by U.S. drivers as they drive. From 2014 to 2016, the share of Americans who owned an iPhone, Android phone, or something comparable rose from 75 percent to 81 percent.
     
    The second is the changing way in which Americans use their phones while they drive. These days, we’re pretty much done talking. Texting, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the order of the day—all activities that require far more attention than simply holding a gadget to your ear or responding to a disembodied voice. By 2015, almost 70 percent of Americans were using their phones to share photos and follow news events via social media. In just two additional years, that figure has jumped to 80 percent.

    Time will tell what’s really going on but the smartphone distraction hypothesis seems likely. Walk around an urban area and you see many drivers who are obviously distracted. It’s not just texting. People are glued to navigation apps, watching videos, doing all kinds of mentally absorbing activities with their phones while they are behind the wheel. Some people are clearly incapable of having a phone conversation without losing focus on whatever else they are doing, such as driving. They look like pilots flying on instruments down busy streets. Quite a few pedestrians are looking at their phones too, which raises the question how many smartphone-related accidents they are responsible for.

    I’m guessing there will eventually be a cultural backlash against distracted driving as there was with drinking and driving, and that rules, customs and technology will be changed to reduce the danger. In the meantime it seems like a good idea to be extra careful.

     

    47 Responses to ““Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting””

    1. Brian Says:

      I confess I’m not sure what to make of this article. They say that the uptick is due to pedestrian deaths. It’s not clear to me, given the limited actual data they show on causes of accidents and deaths, that the problem couldn’t be with distracted pedestrians in cities walking into traffic, as you mention, rather than with drivers. Does that count as victim blaming? There have been numerous stories this year about Asian countries trying to wrestle with this serious problem.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      there will eventually be a cultural backlash against distracted driving as there was with drinking and driving

      Not necessarily. The number of drunk drivers, as a percent of the population, was relatively low, so it was easier to shame and target that small population. Not so with smart phone users; they’re a much larger percentage of the population, and that larger percentage may not take to shaming. Also, they likely vote in enough numbers to make a difference, and they may vote down the most drastic proposals.

    3. Lexington Green Says:

      The response will the big push to get true driverless cars onto the road so people never have to not be jacked in while they are awake.

    4. Bill Brandt Says:

      I would have to say that smart phone use is a big factor. I have had to catch myself a couple of times looking at a smart phone, finding it is demanding more than a second of attention and putting the thing back down on the seat.

      And with iOS 11 you can set the thing to become an usable when it senses the car is moving. think I will implement that.

    5. Scott Eudaley Says:

      I definitely think that the bulk of the increase is driven by distracted pedestrians. I’ve lost count of the number of times pedestrians have stepped right in front of my car without ever looking up from their phones. Just last week, I was going about 35 MPH in a residential area on a four lane street. A young woman stepped off the curb right in front of me without looking up from her phone. I slammed on my brakes and came up about 4-5 feet short of her. She never looked up from her phone. With my adrenaline surging, I yelled at her “LOOK BEFORE YOU CROSS THE STREET!”. She yelled “F*ck You!” without ever looking up from her phone. As she crossed the median, she never looked up from her phone and another car almost hit her going the other way. I can’t help but feel we, as a species, would be better off if she were eliminated from the gene pool by her own stupidity, before she reproduces. And I’ll only feel sorry for the poor sap who kills her. I just hope it isn’t me, since she obviously lives in my neighborhood. And what really bothers me are the adults with children who do the same thing.

      I think a lot of it stems from the feeling that, while you are walking, you don’t have to worry about being distracted. While driving, everyone is aware that they should be paying attention to their driving, although many are very poor at doing so. Not so much while walking. What really bothers me is when I see adults with children doing the same thing.

      In the Bay Area, we also have the phenomenon of what I call “militant pedestrians” and “militant bicyclists”. They are car haters. Berkeley, in particular, is infested with them. Even without being distracted, they will look right at you, then step (or ride) right in front of you, forcing you to stop abruptly. Waiting for five seconds to let you pass, so they can cross safely, would be letting the cars win, so they can’t have that. A few years ago, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bicyclist moving way too fast to stop at the stop sign on a cross street. I managed to stop and avoid him, but the car going the other way didn’t. The bicyclist flew across the street right in front of me right into the front quarter panel of the other car. He was hurt pretty badly (looked like a broken clavicle and broken leg), but he was cussing up a blue streak about how drivers never look out for bicyclists, that it was the car’s fault and that all cars should be banned. Blah, blah, blah. I waited until the cops showed up and told them exactly what happened and told them I would testify in court. They cited him for running the stop sign (I was never called). I could tell you story after story of bicyclists doing something incredibly stupid or dangerous, then blaming the cars for what happened.

      Another reason why I want to get out of the Bay Area…

    6. dearieme Says:

      Car drivers, phooey. A common sight for us is a cyclist, no hands, earplugs in to cut out all aural clues to events, hoodie up to cut out peripheral vision, and busy with two hands and his eyes devoted to his phone.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      It’s everyone, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. However, drivers are the main problem as they are more numerous in most places and can do more damage to others.

      WRT drunk driving and social backlash, while probably few people ever drove drunk it used to be much more acceptable to drive after drinking. Media campaigns against multitasking-while-driving might do some good.

      Driverless cars can’t come soon enough.

    8. Mike K Says:

      “that the problem couldn’t be with distracted pedestrians in cities walking into traffic,”

      A few years ago, a study reported that 75% of pedestrians killed by auot vs ped were legally drunk.

      I agree the smart phone thing is now a factor.

      Walking and not looking up is not a good thing.

    9. David Foster Says:

      When the telegraph was first introduced, a journalist remarked that ‘with this invention, there is no ELSEWHERE anymore…it is all here.’

      If wired technology reduced the sense of Elsewhere, it would seem that wireless technology reduces…even in some cases almost to the point of eliminating…the sense of the Here and Now.

      See this post at Ricochet for an example:

      https://ricochet.com/462106/group-writing-a-childs-future-is-in-the-cards/

    10. Jonathan Says:

      Probably many of the cyclists hit by cars are also drunk. Where I live it’s common to see adult cyclists who look like illegals or people with DUIs. I suspect that such cyclists are more likely to be drunk and to be involved in accidents than are other cyclists.

      Nevertheless recent increases in traffic deaths as cars and roads have become safer suggest that something else is going on. It may not be smartphone use but that’s the obvious explanation.

    11. Margaret Ball Says:

      I think of it as improving the gene pool. That is, as long as it’s the people with their faces in their phones who get killed and not those who have the misfortune to be nearby.

    12. PenGun Says:

      This is good. There are arguably too many humans on the planet, and self regulation through a version of a Darwin award, works for me.

    13. Mike K Says:

      One of my daughters had a rear end collision last year and I suspect she was texting. She denied it before she stopped speaking to me but I have seen her doing this driving before.

      These kids spend their waking hours looking at a cellphone.

      I have become aware of the high degree of myopia in military recruits since I’ve been examining them for the past 5 years.

      I have not seen a comparison between World War II recruits’ vision and recent recruits. i suspect we are seeing more myopia.

      It is a major problem in China and one theory is that children don’t spend enough time outdoors.

      The Mandarin culture of China requires constant study and the incidence of severe myopia in Singapore 17 year olds is 75%.

      The incidence in ethnic Chinese in Australia is about 25%. The difference is thought to be that the children in Australia spend more time outdoors, which presumably involves more focus on distant objects.

      There is even a device to increase time outdoors.

      The FitSight tracker with its novel features may motivate children to increase time outdoors and play an important role in supplementing community outdoor programs to prevent myopia.
      TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE:
      If the developed noninvasive, wearable, smartwatch-based fitness tracker, FitSight, promotes daytime outdoor activity among children, it will be beneficial in addressing the epidemic of myopia.

      In China physicians have not been able to get parents to increase outdoor time for children. The response has been a weird trend to build classrooms with translucent walls on the theory that sunlight may have an effect.

      It is almost certainly being outdoors and focusing on distant objects.

    14. David Foster Says:

      Closely related to this is the problem of people believing GPS directions even when they clearly make no sense. Incidents have included people trying to drive across rivers, trying to drive across active airport runways (what was the gate doing open?), and, recently, a tractor-trailer driver who followed GPS directions onto the Atlantic City boardwalk.

    15. ColoComment Says:

      Mike K: “high degree of myopia in military recruits”

      Is there any historic data on the percentage of the U.S. (or European?) population that needed/needs vision correction? I have worn glasses [for myopia] since my teen years (I’m now in my 70s), and so it’s readily apparent to all that I am one of those unfortunates. However, I suspect that there are many, many of us who either wear contact lenses or have had surgical vision correction, and those we cannot distinguish from their outward appearance.

      Is the data tracked anywhere, do you know? It would be interesting to see if the occurrence has worsened with the onset of screen-viewing. FWIW, I for one remember my mom cautioning me to not sit too close to the [black & white] television, or it would affect my eyesight. ;-)

    16. PenGun Says:

      One of the benefits of short sight is that cell phone screens are no problem at all. I just look over my glasses and my 2x vision kicks in. Very handy.

      It may be the case phones are changing vision in humans, we probably got to my condition by reading and close detail work over the centuries and this new demand, for close detail vision, may not be helping at all.

    17. Tonestaple Says:

      I refuse to get sucked into constant phone-gazing. My pet (heh) peeve is seeing people out with their dogs with their eyes glued to their phones. Not only are they not monitoring their animals’ behavior, they are not talking to the dogs either, after the dogs have been waiting patiently for them all day.

      One friend is amazed at how well I know my way around this awful town but that’s simply because I don’t use a smartphone to tell me where to go.

      In Washington they recently made it illegal to touch your phone while driving. Anything you do must be done hands-free. It’s obvious that no one is afraid of this law being enforced because I can see people every day, constantly glancing down at their phones while driving. On I-5. In the rush hour.

      I, too, am eager to escape this socialist hellhole: the citizenry gets dumber every day.

    18. David Foster Says:

      Tonestaple…”My pet (heh) peeve is seeing people out with their dogs with their eyes glued to their phones.”

      Agreed, it is rude to the dog to do this.

      But also, I see people pushing baby strollers and doing the same thing.

    19. Mike K Says:

      “It would be interesting to see if the occurrence has worsened with the onset of screen-viewing.”

      Yeah. I wonder the same thing. I haven’t found any references on it but military recruits would be a good subset to study. They are kind of random teenagers and young adults,

      Here is one reference.

      Not scientific but interesting.

      David Allamby, Founder of Focus Clinics, says there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of people with advancing myopia (short sightedness) since the launch of smartphones in 1997.
      He has warned the problem could increase by 50 per cent in the next ten years.
      Mr Allamby thinks the problem is so widespread that he has dubbed it ‘screen sightedness’.
      He says that half of Britons own smartphones and that they spend an average of two hours a day using them
      This, along with time spent using computers and watching television, is putting children and young people at risk of permanently damaging their sight.

      I have a very myopic daughter who has had LASIK about 15 years ago and is back wearing glasses. She is 37 so out of the smartphone generation,.

    20. newrouter Says:

      “Driverless cars can’t come soon enough.”

      Care to explain why Firefox keeps kicking NoScript off the toolbar and why my mouse opens tabs without prompting. Your utopia is a mirage.

    21. Jonathan Says:

      All we ever have are different sets of tradeoffs. Surely the control systems for driverless cars will be designed to higher standards than giveaway PC software.

    22. Scott Eudaley Says:

      Driverless cars won’t solve the distracted pedestrian problem and they could make matters worse.

      About a year ago, there were several articles about a major issue in driverless car software. What does the car do when there are no good options? For example, a car suddenly pulls out in front of a driverless car. It is too close to stop in time, but it could swerve to avoid it. Unfortunately, there are pedestrians over there. What should the software decide? Protect the occupants or the pedestrians?

      One of the major European car manufacturers (I think it was BMW, but I could be wrong) said forthrightly, “We’re designing our software to protect the occupants of our vehicle.” It didn’t go over very well. And the promoters of driverless cars really, really didn’t want to publicly discuss such disturbing issues, so the whole thing was quietly hushed up. Driverless cars will be our saviors!

      Jonathan: “Surely the control systems for driverless cars will be designed to higher standards than giveaway PC software.”

      Are you sure about that? A group of researchers has already demonstrated the ability to hack a Tesla and control it remotely through the Internet. If it is connected to the Internet, it can, and will be, hacked.
      And most of the newest cars have that capability so the manufacturer can update the car’s software.

      I fully expect, one day in the not too distant future, to wake up to the following headlines:

      NEWS FLASH: 10 million accidents across the US in just 1 hour! Sudden acceleration of late-model Toyota (pick a manufacturer) cars blamed on hackers! Don’t start your car!

      If I were a terrorist, I’d just LOVE such an opportunity…

    23. Scott Eudaley Says:

      On Hacking Software:

      While it is theoretically possible to build an unhackable system, in practice it is impossible. That is one of the reasons why the DOD and the intelligence community insist upon an “Air Gap” to protect their most vital secrets. Such systems are never, ever connected to any outside network (and are usually inside a Faraday cage to protect from snooping via incidental RF radiation). Even such highly protected systems are subject to hacking if other electronics (such as phones or music players or game consoles) or any data storage device (such as CD/DVDs or thumb drives) can be brought into a facility. It is very, very difficult to prevent a determined hacker.

      The Iranian nuclear facilities were highly secure and used an Air Gap. A single thumb drive was enough to infect the control software for their centrifuges and destroy a significant number of them. Automobiles will NEVER be so isolated.

      To achieve unhackable software, the developer would almost surely have to achieve CMM (Capability Maturity Model) Level 5 development processes. That is extraordinarily difficult to achieve, requiring a massive investment of money, time and expertise. In all the history of software development, only one project has ever achieved that level–the Space Shuttle flight control software. It required 400 engineers, 10 years and several billion dollars to achieve. And once done, they dared not change it! That’s why 30 years later they were still using late 1970’s era computer hardware.

      Does that sound anything like what the automobile manufacturers are doing in their race to be first to market? They WILL be hacked…

    24. Scott Eudaley Says:

      Sorry, I’m on a roll…

      Near Future Advertisements:

      Version 8.0! One Click Travel! Your Favorite Destinations! One Click and You’re There! Upgrade Now!

      Version 9.0! Let Your Car Find A Spot! Optimized to find the closest spot in that busy lot! Upgrade Now!

      Version 10.0! Hands Full? Forgot Where You Parked? Let your car come to you! Upgrade Now!

      Version 11.0! Narrow garage? Big car? We’ll park it for you! Upgrade Now!

      And, of course, the not-so-likely advertisements:

      Boston Option: Tired of being honked at in left-turn lanes? We’ll punch the gas for you and show those suckers! Nobody reacts faster to a green arrow!

      Montana Option: Speed limits? What speed limits? You set the speed, we’ll get you there! Also comes with the special Max Speed Option!

      Oregon Option: A California license plate? We’ll make sure they know they aren’t welcome! Instant Maniac!

      Indiana Option: Driving in Indiana? We’ll make sure you never violate even the most obscure law! Not recommended in other states.

      California Option: Reduces minimum safe distance to the California standard. Not recommended in other states.

      Israel Option: Max Acceleration on Green! Beat everyone else to that one lane!

      I’m being (somewhat) facetious. But you know once they get the basics down (like staying on the road, not hitting things and getting you where you’re going), it is precisely those kinds of things they will be focused on. Not security. But you can’t just bolt on security. It has designed in from the beginning. They WILL be hacked…

    25. dearieme Says:

      So buy a tank.

    26. Mike K Says:

      “Oregon Option: A California license plate? We’ll make sure they know they aren’t welcome! Instant Maniac!”

      Arizona, too. When we moved to Arizona last winter, the first thing I did was register the cars here to get rid of the CA plates.

    27. CapitalistRoader Says:

      Looking at this article from another point of view, it seems to me that humans have more important things to do than pilot a motor vehicle. All the more reason to fully automate cars.

      That won’t stop the distracted pedestrian, though. I wonder if smart phones and cars can communicate such that the phone disables all apps and displays “Watch Out!” when the ped is about to walk into the car’s path.

    28. Jonathan Says:

      One obvious fix is to give pedestrians and cyclists transponders that would make them detectable by cars. This might be done even now, to work with newer cars that have auto-braking and lane-detection systems.

    29. David Foster Says:

      Jonathan…the system would be gamed, the cyclists would become even more obnoxious and arrogant than many of them are now.

    30. Jonathan Says:

      No doubt. There is also a foreseeable problem with criminal pedestrians who game the system to stop cars. There is much to work out here. Why not consider incremental experiments?

      Under the current driving regime distracted motorists kill themselves, other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The costs are high and it seems like a good idea to look at alternatives.

      Some of the responses here remind me of the gloomy cartoon character who keeps saying “It’ll never work!”

    31. Brian Says:

      “Some of the responses here remind me of the gloomy cartoon character who keeps saying “It’ll never work!””
      I am skeptical “it” will work because I see zero evidence that network security is possible. If they get it right with cars it will be the very first time.

      That being said, I actually have a serious moral objection to most autonomous vehicle arguments because they speak as if there is some task to be accomplished that is paramount, and humans are merely cargo. They don’t seem to think in terms of placing the individual as the primary focus, and that a car is a tool that greatly empowers the individual. It’s completely backwards, similar to the way that mobile phones have ceased being viewed as a useful tool for a person to accomplish things otherwise impossible, and turned into tools designed to enable corporations to control an individual’s time and attention.

    32. Bill Roule Says:

      From a Reuters news report,

      “Starting Oct. 25, Honolulu pedestrians can be fined between $15 and $99, depending on the number of times police catch them looking at a phone or tablet device as they cross the street…”

      It goes on to discuss other cities’s effort to protect “zombie pedestrians”

      “Efforts to save pedestrians from their phones extend beyond America’s shores. London has experimented with padding lamp posts to soften the blow for distracted walkers, according to the Independent newspaper.

      In Germany, the city of Augsburg last year embedded traffic signals into the ground near tram tracks to help downward-fixated pedestrians avoid injury, local media reported.”

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hawaii-texting-ban/honolulu-targets-smartphone-zombies-with-crosswalk-ban-idUSKBN1AD2LS

    33. Mike K Says:

      ” it seems to me that humans have more important things to do than pilot a motor vehicle. All the more reason to fully automate cars.”

      I wondered for years why major limited access highways, like Interstates, don’t just have a way to attach the cars to a moving rail, sort of like a People Mover.f

      You drive onto the highway, get in the commuter lane and hook up. The device maintains spacing and, when you get to your destination detach and resume driving.

      If jest can mate to do aerial refueling, it ought to be possible to do this without getting out of the car,

      I’m nervous about wireless autos control systems. The place it would help is commuting distances. I just got hime from my 110 mile commute from Tucson to Phoenix and back. Each way.

    34. PenGun Says:

      “I am skeptical “it” will work because I see zero evidence that network security is possible.”

      Oh well I’ll try. A secure network is certainly possible. We have them working all around us.

      What is brought to your attention are failures, which all systems have. The reason for these failures is invariably, well almost invariably, failing to secure your network properly.

      Look at all the reports of failure and there will be after a while an explanation, which nearly always involves laziness and stupidity.

    35. David Foster Says:

      Thoughts on self-driving cars from Jean-Louis Gassee (former Apple executive)

      https://mondaynote.com/autonomous-cars-the-level-5-fallacy-247ae9614e14

    36. Scott Eudaley Says:

      “Oh well I’ll try. A secure network is certainly possible. We have them working all around us.

      What is brought to your attention are failures, which all systems have. The reason for these failures is invariably, well almost invariably, failing to secure your network properly.

      Look at all the reports of failure and there will be after a while an explanation, which nearly always involves laziness and stupidity.”

      Strongly disagree. We have the APPEARANCE of secure networks, not the reality of them. Yes, laziness and stupidity leads to many security breakdowns, but that is the nature of human beings and a truly secure network tries to take that into account. However, I am struck by the number of holes discovered in what were once thought to be secure systems that have nothing to do with that, but rather the development of some new mechanism for attacking them. For example, the recent discovery of the KRACK attack on the wifi WPA2 security mechanisms. That had nothing to do with laziness or stupidity, but rather the discovery of a weakness in the protocol itself. I go by the Heinlein’ian doctrine “What one man can do, another man can and will undo”. That is a far more accurate description of system security that any claim that “We got it right this time”.

      Even so-called “unbreakable” encryption is rarely so in the real world. For example, the HTTPS protocol is almost surely rather transparent to the NSA (and probably the Russians and Chinese too). Snowden claimed that the AES encryption standard had been cracked. I’m not sure that “cracked” is the proper word, however. If you have enough computing power and storage (and for 256-bit AES it really isn’t that much for an organization like the NSA), it wouldn’t be that hard to attack any AES-encoded scheme with a known message format (such as the HTTP protocol). You attack it through the commonalities that are repeated–common structure, common formats, common headers. That’s how the British finally broke the Enigma code. That’s also how the US was able to decode parts of the Venona messages, even though the Russians used a theoretically unbreakable one-time-pad code. There were very minor flaws in how the Russians generated the pads and that allowed it to be attacked through the common structure (date, time, from, to, etc) that all the messages were sent in.

      You don’t actually have to attack the HTTPS encryption scheme directly. Simply pre-calculate, using every possible key, several commonly used HTTP messages or HTTP headers. When you wish to decrypt a message, simply compare the first part of the HTTPS session to your pre-calculated index and that will give you a much, much smaller number of possible keys to apply to the message(s). The rest is relatively easy computationally. There are ways to prevent that kind of attack. For example, you could start every HTTPS session with randomly generated bursts of a randomly-generated number of bytes of randomly-generated garbage. That would make finding the first HTTP message dramatically harder. But HTTPS doesn’t do anything like that.

      Automobiles WILL be hacked…

    37. Scott Eudaley Says:

      “padding lamp posts”

      LOL. Ayn Rand once claimed the modern fascists were trying to turn the entire world into a hospital ward to protect ourselves from ourselves. Another example, I suppose…

      “You drive onto the highway, get in the commuter lane and hook up. The device maintains spacing and, when you get to your destination detach and resume driving.

      If je[ts] can mate to do aerial refueling, it ought to be possible to do this without getting out of the car”

      Another LOL. I can just imagine the idiots I see every day who can’t even manage to park their car right, trying to match speeds and get hooked up to one of those systems. Or the carnage that would result when coming off the system with another car right in front of you and another right behind. Let alone drivers that are inattentive or asleep because of the boredom.

      How many millions does it take to train an Air Force pilot (and how much help does he get from the tanker pilot and boom/drogue operator)? And how much training does it take to get a driver’s license? Yeah, that’ll work…

    38. Scott Eudaley Says:

      “One obvious fix is to give pedestrians and cyclists transponders that would make them detectable by cars. This might be done even now, to work with newer cars that have auto-braking and lane-detection systems.”

      Don’t give them any ideas! One company is already micro-chipping their employees to control access to their facilities. I’m sure there are many, of more nefarious intent, who would love to require that of all citizens. And I’m sure that is exactly how it will be promoted — “You’ll be safer!”

    39. PenGun Says:

      “Automobiles WILL be hacked…”

      Indeed! Anything that can be will be, and that which cannot be will be tested.

      I ran servers for many years and fought several network wars and they were fun, I must admit. I have been places I should not have been, but back when we started doing this that was normal.

      Internet facing facilities will be hammered. Have a look at any server access_log and behold the constant stream of attempts to own your box. This is entirely normal and goes on all the time. That’s why stuff not secured gets hacked.

      It is entirely possible to secure your network and as everything works quite well most places, that is evidence it’s possible. The various serious money places, banks etc, are seldom hacked and that will almost always be an inside job, as their networks are secure.

      I have Bitcoin’s blockchain on my computer, all 153G of it. I have my pitiful 0.013*** of a Bitcoin safely nested in that blockchain. I can prune the blockchain and be just fine with far less data, but I have room and all the other serious people who deal in Bitcoin have their copy of the blockchain. It changes as we make deals and always contains all deals ever made. It is secure.

    40. CapitalistRoader Says:

      “They don’t seem to think in terms of placing the individual as the primary focus, and that a car is a tool that greatly empowers the individual.”

      How is a car that drives itself any less empowering to the individual than one that needs to be driven by that individual? Especially if that car is owned by that individual.

      Maybe a poor analogy, but my automatic washer and dryer allow me more time–I’m free to do other things–than a manual wringer washer and a clothesline. I think the same way about AVs. I’ll have more time to do other things while I’m being ferried around.

    41. Mike K Says:

      I can just imagine the idiots I see every day who can’t even manage to park their car right, trying to match speeds and get hooked up to one of those systems.

      I’m sure you are right but my point was that there is really a small market for such devices. Long range commuters and long haul truckers are probably two such markets.

      I commute to Phoenix from Tucson and go early in the morning. Traffic is very light. In Los Angeles where I used to live, no automated system will work.

      They can’t even control who drives in the car pool lane and, at any give time, the cars in that lane include 30% that should not be there.

      I now drive (not every day) 110 miles each way in the same or less time than it took me to drive 50 each way in Los Angeles.

      I listen to audio books and don’t mind driving but it would be nice to have the car set to some device that would allow me to relax until we get to the destination and it is time to park.

      You seem to think people who could not figure out how to attach to a people mover like system would do better with a self driving car. It’s really unnecessary for 75% of driving which is local.

      Imagine on your way home in a self driving car when you suddenly remember you were supposed to pick up some milk.

    42. David Foster Says:

      “Imagine on your way home in a self driving car when you suddenly remember you were supposed to pick up some milk”….I don’t see that as much of a problem, just tell it to change the destination, as you can do with just about any GPS system today.

      What I do see as a problem…a very big problem…is the handling of exception conditions. What happens when a water main breaks and cops or construction workers need to direct cars around the problem? What happens when an ambulance needs you to pull over…or, in some cases, to proceed through a light which is red?

      In principal, there could be a protocol which would allow police or workers to direct traffic electronically…but getting this defined, agree, adopted, and implemented nation-wide could take a *lot* of time. And expecting the vehicle’s AI to interpret hand gestures seems a stretch.

      I think it’s likely that self-driving cars will be implemented in certain constrained localities, and certain defined routes, fairly soon….but *not* that Level 5 full-self-driving will be available everywhere in the country, for a very long time.

    43. Jonathan Says:

      The technology to automate driving on limited access highways isn’t far from what’s already available for some cars.

      In such settings is it even necessary to connect the cars through a formal network? And would collision-avoidance systems necessarily need to be networked to be effective?

      If partial automation might yield immediate benefits at reasonable risk, why not try it. More will be known with time, research and experience.

    44. PenGun Says:

      “In such settings is it even necessary to connect the cars through a formal network? And would collision-avoidance systems necessarily need to be networked to be effective?”

      No, the current state of self driving cars rely on cameras and sensors of several kinds, sonar, and IR are common. This is well within the capability of modern small SoCs, and they can place a car very precisely using this tech.

      It will of course be another level of both control and safety when all vehicles on the road are networked. The various traffic control needs, fire, police, disaster can be very effective, with moderately intelligent systems controlling traffic lights and signs.

      Later on actual car control over the network will enable another level of sophistication and again safety.

      I imagine this will continue. ;)

    45. Brian Says:

      “How is a car that drives itself any less empowering to the individual than one that needs to be driven by that individual?”
      Yes, it could be, absolutely. A self-driving option, a sort of cruise-control on steroids, could be awesome. Even just a ton of automatic driver aids, to prevent so many accidents but not actually drive, would be. But talk to self-driving car evangelists and after about five minutes they’re talking about cars without steering wheels, then banning human drivers altogether, because humans cause all the problems, you know.

    46. CapitalistRoader Says:

      “…then banning human drivers altogether, because humans cause all the problems, you know.”

      Not all. But probably in the upper-90% range.

      My insurance company recently sent me a bluetooth device that I’m supposed to keep in my glovebox and synch with my cellphone so they can offer me more discounts based on (I’m guessing) how, when, and where I drive. I drive less than 7500 miles per year but 6000 of those miles are interstate trips; I ride my bike for most around-town shopping and errands. I’ve yet to synch that device but I’m hoping that the insurance company will see that I don’t do daily commutes and adjust my rate down accordingly.

      And that’s probably how AVs will become popular. The more you let the car drive itself, the less insurance you’ll pay. Also, without a driver to pay for, ride sharing services cost should drop dramatically. It will be tempting for people to forego car ownership if the average $7500 per year cost to own a car can be reduced to half that by using a car service instead.

    47. PenGun Says:

      Wow, I did not realize people paid so much. I am interested in this because I have discovered I can buy a new car on my Canadian pension. {Yay socialist Canada, taking care of the poor, me.;)

      I am unusual because I keep my overhead down. My entire cost for my monthly bottom line is about $550 a month. Rent, power, internet, car insurance and phone in my case. . I have about $950 beyond that in income, and I can even save money quite easily. Fuel for my 87 Samurai is minimal, maybe $50 a month.

      I can buy a brand new Ford Fiesta, not the cheapest one, the one I want, for about $250 CAN a month over 7 years with 0% interest. This is the 1 liter Ecoboost model that gets 50 mpg on the highway. Those are real Canadian Imperial gallons, not the weird mini gallons you guys have, but still, insane mileage.

      I’m not going to do this, but I did go talk to Ford and it’s real, they will fiance my old ass. Now the Samurai is in pretty good shape but …. entropy. ;)