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India's Transport Minister Vows To Ban Self-Driving Cars To Save Jobs (arstechnica.com) 142

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Companies in the United States, Germany, Japan, and other countries are racing to develop self-driving cars. But India's top transportation regulator says that those cars won't be welcome on Indian streets any time soon. "We won't allow driverless cars in India," said Nitin Gadkari, India's minister for Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping, according to the Hindustan Times. "I am very clear on this. We won't allow any technology that takes away jobs." Gadkari is taking a very different approach from politicians in the United States, where both the Obama and Trump administrations have been keen to promote the development of self-driving vehicles. "We are bullish on automated vehicles," said Obama Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last year. His successor, Elaine Chao, has also signaled support for self-driving technology, while also expressing concerns about safety risks and potential job losses.
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India's Transport Minister Vows To Ban Self-Driving Cars To Save Jobs

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  • GPS - not allowed as fortune tellers will tell you your way. No more airlines will be allowed to use auto-pilot - Pilots are to "point and shoot from now on" ATM's are out as they are going back to bank tellers. Oh the humanity (we'll save)....
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @05:43PM (#54877685)

      That may be a solution.

      The trouble is that there are no labor intensive industries to take up the displaced workers.

      When I see a new factory opening and the business and local politicians praising it for hiring hundreds of workers, I just think - 'so?'

      We are going to need hundreds of thousands of operations like that - and they're not coming.

      We don't have industries like the nascent auto industry in the late 19th and early 20th century that needed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of workers. Or the early aviation industry.

      And the economists' solution of "moving up the food chain" is impractical to say the least. Even if everyone were able to do any profession they were trained to do, there's a point of saturation. We will only need so many engineers and programmers in the automation field. The demand isn't infinite.

      And we can't rely on magical thinking of something sometime will come along or 'we've dealt with this in the past." - no, we haven't. Humanity has never had to deal with this issue- The industrial revolution was nothing like this.

      tl;dr: There will be a point where there just isn't enough work for everyone.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Not to mention that most people just aren't that artistic and curious and cerebral.

      • We don't have industries like the nascent auto industry in the late 19th and early 20th century

        Before there were car factories, cars were assembled one-by-one in garages. Car factories automated the process, and GREATLY REDUCED the labor to assemble each car. So obviously the car factories should have been banned to save jobs.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Now a does of traffic reality in India https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]. Self driving cars do not do well on roads where people make up the rules as they go along and they actual traffic rules are just a vague guide line. Stick automated vehicles in that mess and traffic will stall entirely and you simply can not convert 100% of vehicles at the same time to somehow create automated nirvana out of chaos. There is also a lot of ego tied up in India's extremely prejudiced society and they demand the ego servi

      • You're reading my mind. its not like the industrial revolution, and in so many ways. Humans have two very basic skills that everything is built on. Brawn and brains. Industrial revolution on the simplest scale automated hard labor and brawn. AI Revolution is now chipping away at the brains. Sure, there will be specialists forever, but those #'s will be very minimal compared to today. Just like we don't have horse drawn buggies, we won't have very many backup doctors to read MRI's once the computers
        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          Humans are extremely good at dealing with change. Compare it with other animals, they often just die out. However, the current rate of change is chalenging even to the most adaptable humans, so there will always be those who can't cope with this rate.

      • tl;dr: There will be a point where there just isn't enough work for everyone.

        Maybe. Or maybe people are being a bit uncreative when thinking about these things.

        Go back 250 years, and tell people that in the future, only 2% of the workforce will work in agriculture. Most people would probably call you mad, while aristocrats who would believe you would probably call for the progressive castration of more and more peasants.

        Go back 150 years, and tell people that in the future, millions will be employed directly and indirectly by various entertainment industries (Hollywood, professional

  • Not a risk anyway (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @05:29PM (#54877575)

    I don't think India is at risk of having any self-driving cars any time soon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've read more than one account of India's roads, and last I heard they were still a chaotic nightmare most places, where the rules of the road are barely even suggestions, let alone guidelines. That's not an environment a robot can be expected to function well in, if at all. Unless Indians somehow Westernized their vehicular behavior in the past year, there's no risk at all of self-driving vehicles showing up there. Quite aside from the price of the extra equipment. India is still the place that wants and needs to build sub-$6000 vehicles. There's not a lot of room in that budget for servos and sensors.

    India's Transport Minister is grandstanding in the best tradition of government ministers everywhere, "solving" a nonexistent problem.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @05:42PM (#54877679) Homepage

      Quite aside from the price of the extra equipment. India is still the place that wants and needs to build sub-$6000 vehicles. There's not a lot of room in that budget for servos and sensors.

      And the labor costs are very low, so the savings are small. They're basically last in line and talking as if it was coming any day now.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Savings are small, but they make that up with big numbers.

    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      The true test of a man's intelligence is how much he thinks like me. You are obviously very intelligent!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Coding autonomous vehicles that go from point A to B with the mandate not to run over people, buildings, and other immovable objects is easier than doing the same thing and then adding those pesky rules of the road.

      • There's always the need for tech support centers for all those autonomous cars.
      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
        Having been in India recently and see it first hand, I'd agree. It's much easier to build a self-driving vehicle in India because there are no rules other than "don't hit anything". Everyone behaves as if there's an invisible bubble around their vehicle, with which they could bump and push other vehicles out of the way. Surprisingly, other drivers also respect this bubble and will move out of the way if another vehicle comes too close. It wouldn't be very hard to simulate this behavior with a computer, sinc
    • by Alok ( 37687 )

      Over the past few years, traffic in India has actually become worse instead of improving, exacerbated by all the construction without corresponding commute improvements in cities like Mumbai.

      However a robot is probably better suited to always looking in all 4 directions and tailgating 1m behind the vehicle in front continuously to avoid someone squeezing in line - so maybe AI drivers would be far more useful on Indian roads, where driving is otherwise an exhausting ordeal :( Programming it would be quite

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @06:10PM (#54877835)

      That's outdated thinking. India has come a LONG way in the past 20 years. For example some cars will actually stop at red lights, ... on major intersections, ... during certain times of the day.

    • Could be, but self driving cars would be a godsend to women in India who risk getting raped by cab drivers

  • ahem. (Score:5, Funny)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @05:34PM (#54877621)
    ...said the minister as he dictated the memorandum to a shorthand stenographer, who then typed it up on a typewriter, and sent it out by a Dehli messenger boy to be posted to the evening Internet by telegram... Oh wait, I guess all those technologies that took away those jobs were ok to happen, just not this one!
    • Let's ban clothes washers too.

      https://www.ted.com/talks/hans... [ted.com]

      Because jobs.

    • picking and choosing the tech to fit their desired society. Sure, the better solution would be for the fruits of automation to be shared with all, but that's not the world we live and and to be honest a lot of folks don't want it to be. There's the Idle hands/devils plaything camp. There's the folks who don't know what to do if they're not working. There's folks who don't want you taking their money and redistributing it. And there's folks who's only source of power and influence is controlling who gets foo
      • There's lots of folks who don't _want_ the world automated. Good luck dealing with those people...

        Easy... automate the crowd supression/anti riot response! :)

  • India has rampant wealth inequality and absolutely no system in place to redistribute that wealth. Without that automation just hurts people. And I've yet to find a way to move to that idealized Star Trek economy (and no, violence doesn't work, it just devolves into a dictatorship when King Rat takes over. See China, USSR, etc).

    Can somebody can tell me how to pry the 1% away from their wealth, especially in a post automation economy when they don't even need workers to buy their goods anymore because who
    • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @05:44PM (#54877699) Homepage Journal

      Can somebody can tell me how to pry the 1% away from their wealth[y]

      I assume you mean without a violent revolution?

    • We shouldn't be worried about prying the 1% away from their wealth, that's a red herring. We should be worried about quality of life increasing for everyone. Access to medical care. Safe food and water, etc. I don't care if other people are ultra rich, as long as my kids have medical care. These two things seem like the same thing, but they're really different.
    • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@@@earthlink...net> on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @06:44PM (#54878021)

      Can somebody can tell me how to pry the 1% away from their wealth

      Statistics fail! There will always be, by definition, a wealthy 1%.

      Also, they earned their money, what gives anyone the right to take it from them? If you want their money then the best way to get it is the same way they got it, by trading up. I traded $30 for a tank of gas this morning, who got "wealthy" from that? The answer is both me and the gas station. They wanted my $30 more than they wanted that gasoline, and I wanted the gasoline more than I wanted the $30. Now with that $30 they can go buy more gasoline, and pay the cashier, and pay the lease on the property, and so on. With my tank of gas I can now get to and from classes for a week, which gives me an education that has a value of it's own.

      especially in a post automation economy when they don't even need workers to buy their goods anymore because who need to sell things when you already own everything?

      This sounds like someone that lacks knowledge of history. People have always found work, doing things we never even thought of before. Long ago a "computer" was a person good at math. Now such people work at programming the machines we call computers.

      Who knows what they will be doing. I'm quite certain though that they will still be able to find work, because supply often creates a demand on its own. No one knew they wanted a dishwasher until someone started selling them. What are all those people supposed to do now that they aren't washing dishes? I don't know, but they won't be wasting their time doing something so monotonous.

      • Also, they earned their money

        Choosing your parents is a job?

        which gives me an education that has a value of it's own.

        ITT closed down. Didn't you notice yet?

      • There will always be a wealthy 1%, but the problem is that making it to the 1% bestows you with the power to stay in the 1%. What's the point of playing king of the hill if the first person who makes it to the top can never be pushed off? That's capitalism today.
    • Re:Makes sense to me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @07:15PM (#54878175)

      India has rampant wealth inequality and absolutely no system in place to redistribute that wealth.

      Rampant wealth inequality is a fact of life. People are not all equally capable of generating wealth or intelligent with their dispensation of acquired wealth so no matter what system you try to use, some will end up having more or less. Even the various communist governments of the world had or have wealth inequality to similar extents as the various capitalist western democracies. Wealth redistribution systems that arbitrarily take from those who are successful to give to those who are not tend to fall apart over time. Some transition peacefully towards more capitalist systems like Vietnam and China and others collapse into failed states like Somalia that are plagued by civil war.

      Can somebody can tell me how to pry the 1% away from their wealth, especially in a post automation economy when they don't even need workers to buy their goods anymore because who need to sell things when you already own everything?

      Provide them a good or a service that they want to purchase? That's typically how I get people wealthier than I am to part with some of their money.

      To your other point though, If the wealthy already have everything you want, what is the point of having wealth at that point? If having an automated worker is sufficient to provide you with everything you need, what's to stop someone who has automated works from building more automated workers and giving them to the people who don't already have them? I suppose you could say power and control, but what's the point of having either if they can't get you anything for having them?

      All that aside, inheritance taxes with a reasonable exemption threshold to allow for small family businesses are a possibility if you grant that in return income taxes would be reduced. I generally think it's a better setup in that it allows people who generate wealth to keep it, but doesn't allow for vast family fortunes where people of no particular skill are wealthy simply by virtue of being born into that wealth. It might sound good on paper, but in practice I expect it would just result in more people setting up their own foundations, charitable enterprises, etc. as most people who manage to accumulate vast sums of wealth in their own life probably wouldn't trust the government to manage it.

      There's always some kind of Brave New World setup where humans are manufactured, at which point why make incapable people. That story didn't have robotic laborers, but assuming there were, you'd really only care to have Alphas and perhaps Betas.

    • Can somebody can tell me how to pry the 1% away from their wealth

      The usual way: through socialism or fascism. You can look at history what happens next. Recently, Venezuela tried again. And, oh, by the way, as an educated American, you are almost certainly part of "the 1%" yourself.

    • What exactly do you think the wealthy do with their money? You think they just have a giant pile of cash lying around in a vault? Finding places to spend/invest the money is a real problem for wealthy people.

      The wealthy buy companies, employ people and produce things. They put their money into fine art and automobiles and then build museums to house their collections. They invest in real estate and put up hotels and start restaurants. They do things like start racing teams and enter into competitions.

  • "We in India are back woods, and innovation is not a word we understand."
  • Make use of technology to free up people to do other tasks and increase productivity. If we always sided with maximizing the amount of labor for human beings we would have never accepted the farm tractor.

    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      What other tasks in India?

      • Presumably the taxis are taking people somewhere for some purpose.

        But seriously, India exports a lot of fossil fuels, petroleum by products, chemical products, plastics, and even nuclear reactor components.

        • by Nutria ( 679911 )

          Double, triple, quadruple the amount of fossil fuel, fossil fuels, petroleum by products, chemical products, plastics, and even nuclear reactor components?

  • Shortsighted. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kaka.mala.vachva ( 1164605 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @05:52PM (#54877747)
    As an Indian, I'm horrified at this. While I appreciate that India is very far from deploying any driverless cars, to enforce a policy forbidding the tech is really short sighted. If we listen to Gadkari and his like, all administrative work should be done with pen and paper, all accounting should be entered manually into a ledger, all farming should be done by pulling a plow manually. It is rather unfortunate that someone like him is in power.
    • I wouldn't worry too much. One man can't hold back the tide.

  • by jcr ( 53032 )

    Once again, it's demonstrated that government is the realm of people who are too fucking stupid to get a real job.

    -jcr

  • This might be for the best... I mean, it's not like automation is gonna work in a 100 years or so considering how the traffic works in cities like Mumbai or Delhi. :P
    They'd need to invent a new class 6 level to go through something like that.

  • Politicians love their vote banks, and will never promote good technologies or any progress that can lead to job loss in the short term. Nobody really tries to think beyond the timeframe that they will be up for re-election, so having a benefit in the medium / long term is simply irrelevant.

    Unlike China which aims to be an AI superpower in next couple of decades, India will happily plod along trying to maximize unskilled jobs to make for nice employment statistics. Its very frustrating to see how much ineff

  • Not the people that are too poor to own a car and would pay less for the ride without a driver.
  • ... jobs"

    Uhmm... why the fuck are they allowing any technology at all into the country then?

    *EVERY* technology obsoletes some job that used to be done by human beings. Traffic lights put cops out of work. Automated assembly put thousands of employees out of work. The invention of the rifle pretty much spelled the end of bowsmithing. outside of a niche market. The light bulb put street lamp lighters out of work. The list goes on....

    The guy is clearly so focussed on what he sees as some sort

    • *EVERY* technology obsoletes some job that used to be done by human beings.

      Yes. However, for most of history, the "obsolete" people could easily find another job they could do and earn money.

      Nobody needs bows anymore? OK, you are good at woodwork, here, make stocks for rifles.
      A new textile mill opened and nobody is buying your home-produced cloth? Go work at that factory, now that cloth is cheaper, more people want it and the factory can barely keep up with demand.
      Also, I hear that those new factories are burning huge amounts of coal - if there is a coal mine near you, it probably

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        It's a safe bet that if we waited until there was a job market for people who would get laid off on account of technology putting somebody out of work, I dare say we would be living in a very different world than we do. When cars went from being built by hand to being built by machine it put a staggering number of people out of work that had no idea what they were going to do next..... the thing is, once they were in that position, many figured out a way to move on.... a way that they would not have anti
  • Let's ban electricity as well. And computers. And the internal combustion engine. Imagine how much work we can create if people have to wash their clothes, ride rickshaws, do accounting by hand, etc. That way, we can quickly return to the 17th century, when everybody lived like kings and there was no unemployment or social unrest. It's what progressives crave!
  • ...as he had an appointment to go smash some automated looms.

  • Back in the good old days, it took thousands of men picking in a field to make cotton, fifty percent of Americans were farmers. The cotton gin sure as hell ruined all that, then came all the rest of the automated farm equipment. Now, less than five percent of the population need to be farmers.
  • Now if only they devoted some resources to provide the more than 600 million Indian citizens who lack them with such basic services as running water, electricity and sewage, rather than focusing on international me-too pissing contests, the rest of the world might start taking India with more seriousness.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

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