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Two Cheers for Andrew Cuomo, Subway Savior
the L-train will not be shut down after all:
If this plan will work, it’s great news. But there’s an obvious question: If this plan will work, and if some engineering professors whose primary work isn’t on subway construction were able to come up with it in a matter of weeks, why didn’t anyone think of it earlier? Why did we spend three years planning for a 15-month shutdown that is, in retrospect, totally unnecessary? Is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority staffed by idiots?

I do not mean that as a rhetorical question.

We have learned over the last couple of years that the primary driver of increased subway delays is not overcrowding or deferred maintenance or budget cuts — it is a series of incompetent managerial decisions the MTA made, lowering speed limits without good cause and installing faulty sensors to enforce those limits, causing train operators to drive well below the posted limits to avoid tripping an errant emergency brake.

Andy Byford, who came to the MTA in 2017 from Toronto to run New York’s subway and bus system, has rolled out a program to fix the faulty sensors and raise speed limits where appropriate. Why didn’t anyone think of that earlier? Had the MTA been staffed by idiots? Quite possibly, yes.

#urban  #us#nycrash  %🔥  #p#bureaucracy  #budgets  #t#selfdriving 
14 days ago by lemeb
Opinion | Is This the End of the Age of Apple? - The New York Times
Indeed. The last big innovation explosion — the proliferation of the smartphone — is clearly ending. There is no question that Apple was the center of that, with its app-centric, photo-forward and feature-laden phone that gave everyone the first platform for what was to create so many products and so much wealth. It was the debut of the iPhone in 2007 that spurred what some in tech call a “Cambrian explosion,” a reference to the era when the first complex animals appeared. There would be no Uber and Lyft without the iPhone (and later the Android version), no Tinder, no Spotify.
#$#nextcrash  #t#next  #t#oops  #t#beyondsv  #t#corp  %finance  #t#selfdriving 
15 days ago by lemeb
What It’s Like to Deliver Packages for Amazon - The Atlantic
a surprisigly upbeat account of a big-time sport journalist who now delivers packages for amazon:
The hero’s journey, according to Joseph Campbell, features a descent into the belly of the beast: Think of Jonah in the whale, or me locked in the cargo bay of my Ram ProMaster on my second day on the job, until I figured out how to work the latch from the inside. During this phase of the journey, the hero becomes “annihilate to the self”—brought low, his ego shrunk, his horizons expanded. This has definitely been my experience working for Jeff Bezos.

During my 33 years at Sports Illustrated, I wrote six books, interviewed five U.S. presidents, and composed thousands of articles for SI and Roughly 140 of those stories were for the cover of the magazine, with which I parted ways in May of 2017. Since then, as Jeff Lebowski explains to Maude between hits on a postcoital roach, “my career has slowed down a little bit.”

and there is the infamous bathroom issue:
Before sending me out alone, the company assigned me two “ride-alongs” with its top driver, the legendary Marco, who went out with 280 packages the second day I rode shotgun with him, took his full lunch break, did not roll through a single stop sign, and was finished by sundown. Marco taught me to keep a lookout not just for porch pirates—lowlifes who swoop in behind us to pilfer packages—but also for portable toilets. In neighborhoods miles from a service station or any public lavatory, a Port-a-John, or a Honey Pot, can be no less welcome than an oasis in the desert. (The afternoon I leapt from the van and beelined to a Honey Pot, only to find it padlocked, was the closest I’ve come to crying on the job.)

i’m wondering what amazon thinks of this... and, of course, something should be said about the fact that the risks are passed on to the drivers

280/12 = 23 packages an hour, so roughly $1 a package. these, needless to say, are gigantic costs for what is just a *portion* of the delivery costs. very very doubtful that these can be brought down by self driving...
#$#journalism  %words  %longform  #$#ineq  !write!dystopia  #$#gig  %greatstory  %😃  #t#commerce  #t#selfdriving  #$#outsourcing  #t#state 
21 days ago by lemeb
Services like UberPool are making traffic worse, study says - The Washington Post
Schaller found that while options such as UberX add 2.8 new vehicle miles for each mile of personal driving they eliminate, the inclusion of options such as UberPool and Lyft Line adds to traffic at only a marginally lower rate: 2.6 new miles for every mile of personal driving reduced.

The findings are based on published trip mileage data and the companies’ own claims about the share of solo and pooled rides.

“Shared rides add to traffic because most users switch from non-auto modes,” the report says. “In addition, there is added mileage between trips as drivers wait for the next dispatch and then drive to a pickup location. Finally, even in a shared ride, some of the trip involves just one passenger (e.g., between the first and second pickup).”

Jon Orcutt, a spokesman for the New York-based advocacy organization Transit Center, said the blame does not fall on individual users for finding ride-hailing services attractive, but that the burden is on local governments and transit agencies to respond to their growth with policies such as congestion pricing, the prioritization of buses through features such as dedicated lanes, and a general push toward frequent, reliable and affordable transit. It’s no coincidence, he says, that ride-hailing’s explosive growth has taken place amid transit system collapses in several major cities.
#urban  #t#selfdriving  %policystats 
29 days ago by lemeb
The death of a woman hit by a self-driving car highlights an unfolding technological crisis, as code piled on code creates ‘a universe no one fully understands’
#t#selfdriving  #programming  #t#ml  #t#blackbox  !write!scale  !write!dystopia 
29 days ago by lemeb
People are averse to machines making moral decisions - ScienceDirect
Do people want autonomous machines making moral decisions? Nine studies suggest that that the answer is ‘no’—in part because machines lack a complete mind.

in the department of obvious findings
#t#selfdriving  #t#automation  %policystats  %econ%behav 
4 weeks ago by lemeb
Will Uber Survive the Next Decade?
The only advantage Uber might have achieved is taking advantage of its drivers’ lack of financial acumen — that they don’t understand the full cost of using their cars and thus are giving Uber a bargain. There’s some evidence to support that notion. Ridester recently published the results of the first study to use actual Uber driver earnings, validated by screenshots. Using conservative estimates for vehicle costs, they found that that UberX drivers, which represent the bulk of its workforce, earn less than $10 an hour. They would do better at McDonald’s. But even this offset to the generally higher costs of fleet operation hasn’t had an meaningful impact on Uber’s economics.

But, you may argue, Uber has all that data about rides! Certainly that allows it to be more efficient than traditional cabs. Um, no. Local ride services have backhaul problems that no amount of cleverness can remedy, like taking customers to the airport and either waiting hours for a return fare or coming back empty, or daily urban commutes, where workers go overwhelmingly in one direction in the morning rush and the other way in the evening. Similarly, Uber’s surge pricing hasn’t led customers to change their habits and shift their trips to lower-cost times, which could have led to more efficient utilization. If Uber had any secret sauce, it would have already shown up in Uber revenues and average driver earnings. Nine years in, and there’s no evidence of that.

#t#automation  #t#selfdriving  #$#nextcrash  #t#wakingup  #techpol  %🔥 
6 weeks ago by lemeb
Waymo CEO Says Self-Driving Cars Won't Be Ubiqitous for Decades - Bloomberg
The head of Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous vehicle unit gave a cautious outlook for the nascent industry on Tuesday, saying the technology won’t be ubiquitous for decades and that driverless vehicles will always have constraints.

Waymo Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik said self-driving cars will require driver assistance for many years to come, and that he doesn’t envision a day when the technology operates in all weather conditions and without some sort of "user interaction."
!write!utopia  !write!technologist  #t#selfdriving 
9 weeks ago by lemeb
Waymo to Start First Driverless Car Service Next Month - Bloomberg
In just a few weeks, humanity may take its first paid ride into the age of driverless cars. 

Waymo, the secretive subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is planning to launch the world’s first commercial driverless car service in early December, according to a person familiar with the plans. It will operate under a new brand and compete directly with Uber and Lyft. 

Waymo is keeping the new name a closely guarded secret until the formal announcement, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public. 
!write!utopia  !write!technologist  #t#selfdriving 
9 weeks ago by lemeb
Waymo’s Robot Cars, and the Humans Who Tend to Them - The Atlantic
In some ways, these humans are the answer to some of the long tail of what-ifs that come up when people think about robot cars. How could they possibly know what to do in every situation? What if a streetlight is out? What if there’s construction? In those cases, the car can simply dial a human and have them verify the road conditions, then replan its route. I imagine they sit there like security guards, in front of a bunch of screens, waiting for the pings from the robots. Or perhaps they are served up serially: What about this situation? How about this intersection? What’s going on here?
!write!technologist  #t#selfdriving 
august 2018 by lemeb
MIT built a self-driving car that can navigate unmapped country roads - The Verge
Taking the road less traveled is extremely difficult for self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles rely on highly visible lane markings, as well as detailed 3D maps in order to navigate their environment safely. Which is why most of the major companies have eschewed testing on unmapped rural roads in favor of suburbs and cities.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new system that allows self-driving cars to drive on roads they’ve never been on before without 3D maps. Called MapLite, the system combines simple GPS data that you’d find on Google Maps with a series of sensors that observe the road conditions.


If it ends up going commercial, MIT’s MapLite would go a long way in fulfilling one of the mandates from the Trump administration: that the safety benefits from autonomous driving be extended to residents in rural communities.

In Detroit last year, US Secretary Elaine Chao said it’s vital for the auto industry to ensure that self-driving cars help improve life in rural communities and not just urban areas. “We want to be inclusive as well and consider how this technology can benefit rural America,” Chao said during the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.
#xxi#tech  #t#selfdriving  %😃  !write!revuedepresse 
may 2018 by lemeb
mcc on Twitter: "For context of the problem, here's Harvard's "Moral Machine", a quiz that shows a scenario & asks you to judge the car's appropriate action"
All these thought experiments (Like MIT Moral Machines) are based on a misunderstanding about the nature of information available to any self driving car

tl;dr a car does probabilistic calculations, so it can't do that kind of trolley-like decisions. They said what I was thinking all along.
#t#selfdriving  #xxi#tech  %theory  %contrarian 
november 2017 by lemeb
What the Car Did — And What It Might Do - The New York Times
Introducing this year’s Tech and Design Issue.
The definitive outlook of self-driving cars?
#t#selfdriving  !write!dystopia  #techpol  #xxi#tech 
november 2017 by lemeb

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