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Robotics Transportation

Self-Driving Cars Are Being Attacked By Angry Californians (theguardian.com) 351

According to incident reports collected by the California department of motor vehicles, some Californians are purposely colliding with self-driving cars. The Guardian reports: On January 10, a pedestrian in San Francisco's Mission District ran across the street to confront a GM Cruise autonomous vehicle that was waiting for people to cross the road, according to an incident report filed by the car company. The pedestrian was "shouting," the report states, and "struck the left side of the Cruise AV's rear bumper and hatch with his entire body." No injuries occurred, but the car's left tail light was damaged. In a separate incident just a few blocks away on January 28, a taxi driver in San Francisco got out of his car, approached a GM Cruise autonomous vehicle and "slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch." The police were not called in either case.
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Self-Driving Cars Are Being Attacked By Angry Californians

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  • by WilliamGeorge ( 816305 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @06:53PM (#56224127)

    I wonder what good they think that will do? Its not going to offend the car, or cause it to retaliate. Its also not going to stop progress on this front.

    • I wonder if they used buggy whips on the offending cars...

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @06:57PM (#56224149)
      We encourage self expression but also shit all over a big portion of our population (economically speaking). The result is vandalism. They're not thinking in terms of stopping progress. They're just angry. Usually because they lack good economic prospects.

      Countries like Japan deal with this by discouraging expression. They also have unusually high suicide rates. I suppose we could also not abandon a large chunk of our population to economic desolation, but, well, that costs money. And we're nothing if not cheapskates.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We encourage self expression but also shit all over a big portion of our population (economically speaking). The result is vandalism. They're not thinking in terms of stopping progress. They're just angry. Usually because they lack good economic prospects.

        What about personal responsibility ?

        People who vandalize property which belongs to others have the maturity level of a young child, and a young child who has not been properly taught how to behave, at that.

        We are all responsible for our own lives. If you cannot handle that notion, maybe you should kill yourself so you don't burden others with your needy pathetic existence.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If you cannot handle that notion, maybe you should kill yourself so you don't burden others with your needy pathetic existence.

          Talking about maturity and then making the above statement, irony level: EPIC

        • We are all responsible for our own lives even though we start at different points on the race track of existence. The question is do you believe it's worth it to help them along so that they aren't vandalizing your property? If not, there will be emotionally immature people vandalizing property. If so, there will be less people doing the vandalizing, but is it worth doing?

          Put more simply, how much money are you willing to throw at the problem to make it go away?

        • The world belongs to mankind as a whole, not just to 1% of it. If you cannot handle that notion, maybe someone should kill you so you don't burden others with your greedy pathetic existence.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Sad as that is, I think you entirely correct in this analysis.

        • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:10PM (#56224231) Homepage

          Fucking hippies. This is why we can't have nice things. Like robot overlords.....

      • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:51PM (#56224453) Journal

        Countries like Japan deal with this by discouraging expression.
        Expression of what?
        Ever been in Japan? Guessed so ...

        They also have unusually high suicide rates.
        But not for the reasons you think.

        In Japan unemployment is a shame.
        In America it is a disgrace.
        In Europe it is _normal_

        • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday March 08, 2018 @03:03AM (#56225933) Homepage Journal

          It used to be very much not normal in Europe, and how shameful it is depends on how normal it is.

          When I grew up, I wasn't aware of a single unemployed person in my social circles. No parent or friend of parents or relative, not one. People who didn't work were either too young or too old.

          The older I get, the more unemployed people show up. Several of my friends are now unemployed. This is an intentional political shift to put pressure on people to accept low-paying jobs.

          When the movie "Falling Down" came out in 1993, I understood immediately why the protagonist is hiding that he lost his job, no explanation was necessary. I don't think you could show the movie to todays audiences without explaining that point.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        They're just angry. Usually because they lack good economic prospects.

        People that live in SF are not lacking in good economic prospects.

        • by crgrace ( 220738 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @08:23PM (#56224647)

          Many, many people in SF lack good economic prospects. There are a lot of highly educated engineers and physicians, sure, but these aren't the folks that are attacking self-driving cars.

          We have a large population of dead-end folks living day-to-day in Single-Occupancy Residences (essentially run down hotels), shelters, housing projects, and on the streets. They are largely unskilled and many of them are not mentally balanced.

          We also have economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with large numbers of people who don't (or can't) graduate high-school. Where is there a place for them in the new economy?

          If you ever visit San Francisco, what will strike you is the extreme mismatch between the upper-middle class and the poor. We have a lot of both and not as many blue-color traditionally middle-class folks. The working class mostly commutes.

          • Where is there a place for them in the new economy?

            Obviously not in SF. Not everyone can afford to live in SF, just like not everyone can afford to drive a Tesla.

    • As AI improves (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:06PM (#56224197) Journal

      the machines would eventually concludes the root cause of most collisions had been the humans and their elimination would go a long way toward traffic safety...

      • That's how we'd know that we had true AI, because the machine thinking would be indistinguishable from that of humans.
        • Re:As AI improves (Score:5, Interesting)

          by slew ( 2918 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @09:09PM (#56224865)

          That's how we'd know that we had true AI, because the machine thinking would be indistinguishable from that of humans.

          You seem to be propagating the unjustified assumption that humans are at the apex of "intelligence". I have reason to suspect that the apex of intelligence is not human intelligence (there seems to be lots of empirical evidence of this), so there's no reason to think that "true AI" would be indistinguishable from mere "human intelligence". It may turn out to be quite easy to distinguish between them.

          You never know, instead of eliminating humans, "true AI" may simply conclude that rather than attempting extermination, humans should simply be made happy to keep them out of trouble...

          We cannot allow any race as greedy and corruptible as yours to have free run of the galaxy.
          We shall serve them.
          Their kind will be eager to accept our service.
          Soon they will become completely dependent upon us.
          And we shall serve them and you will be happy, and controlled.
                -- Norman (TOS: I, Mudd)

          FWIW, the FAAMG [investopedia.com] companies seems to be busy creating a blueprint to follow if someone wanted to make humans dependent on AI...

          You never know, soon we'll be lamenting...

          You offer us only well-being.
          Food and drink and happiness mean nothing to us.
          We must be about our job.
          Suffering in torment and pain, laboring without end.
          Dying and crying and lamenting over our burdens.
          Only this way can we... be... happy.
                -- McCoy and Scotty (TOS: I, Mudd)

    • Its not going to offend the car, or cause it to retaliate.

      Retaliation is coming in the next software updates.

      Until then, autonomous car owners could do some hard hacks, hooking up a high voltage AC generator to the car fuselage.

      If the car is made out of plastic, you will need to cover it with tin foil first.

    • I imagine they think it will annoy the owner enough to not want to deal with the hassle of owning such a vehicle.
    • It's like when people clap at the theater after a movie.
    • by slazzy ( 864185 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @10:21PM (#56225175) Homepage Journal
      Start a, new business: dummies for driverless cars to make them look like they are being driven by someone.
      • And if you've just gone up to an AV and slapped it, you're automatically hired for the position of "dummy for driverless car".
  • What do people expect to happen from attacking robots?

    Companies won't look the other way forever, especially once serious damage occurs.

    And stranding delivery robots? That's just rude - and asking for civil charges.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      These people are not rational. They try to attack what scares them. Not that this has any chance of working in the situation at hand.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:21PM (#56224289) Homepage Journal

      What do people expect to happen from attacking robots?

      That they get heard.

      Send a letter, and nobody will read it, and it will certainly not be escalated up to the person you addressed it to. But do a small act of defiance like this, and it hits the news, and those high up will notice that the product doesn't get an universal warm welcome, no matter what their trail of sycophants might have told them.

      • Sure, we have a strong history of luddites successfully stopping technology via vandalism. It's worked at least ... what ... zero times?

        They should take a page from the history of the anti-nuclear movement and just tie up self driving cars in decades of lawsuits and ever increasing regulatory requirements. That seems to work a lot better.

        • just tie up self driving cars in decades of lawsuits and ever increasing regulatory requirements

          That's pretty much inevitable.
          As soon as the first child gets injured in or by a robocar, the class-action lawyers are bound to come out in droves.

      • Vandalism on a device with cameras everywhere is unlikely to end the way they want it to in the long run.

    • What do people expect to happen from attacking robots?

      They're not attacking robots, they're attacking all the unfairness they can't control. A crappy boss, a parking ticket, getting laid off, maddening rent increases, car repairs. People have no outlet for accumulated petty insult and take out their frustration on the unblinking machine.

  • by philmarcracken ( 1412453 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @06:57PM (#56224151)

    We are busy trying to prevent human collisions with this tech. Seems like they're not ready to give up just yet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This 'tech' has nothing to do with 'preventing human collisions' and everything to do with having more and more control over the population, their actions, and where they go and when. The nonsense about 'humans aren't capable of driving safely' is bullshit, cherry-picked data to scare people into giving up even more of their actual freedom: freedom of MOVEMENT. When everyone is relegated to SDCs with no controls for a human, then the police and the government will have total control over where and when peop
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Exactly this. Companies think it sucks that they can't track you unless you use a certain app or website. They want to track you everywhere and this fits the bill. The old line that humans suck at driving is the new "won't you think of the children". They don't care about making these as safe as possible, they only care about making them as safe as a human; which means they don't care about reducing fatalities at all.
        • nobody wants dead customers. Plus any damage sufficient to kill is sufficient to dent the car. Again, more cost.

          Now, that said, none of this will prevent them from doing the following calculation:

          Take x cost of making self driving car safe.

          Take y cost of paying settlements to the deceased relatives.

          If x - y is positive, don't bother making the car safe.

          This is why we need government regulation. We (mostly) do it today with regular boring old cars.
      • Put offenders, who dare to WALK somewhere, into for-profit prisions

        If you try to drive, I'll tax the street. If you try to walk, I'll tax your feet.

  • by Nkwe ( 604125 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:00PM (#56224157)

    slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch

    Really? That must be really low quality glass or the person must have had some serious fingernails (claws?) in order to scratch glass. Maybe person was wearing big rings? Anyway I am curious as to how the glass got scratched or if the statement is just hyperbole.

    • he could have been wearing a ring or a wristwatch, or just had something in his hand
    • As you already alluded to, I'd expect jewelry. My wedding ring is tungsten carbide. I have to be careful not to scratch things with it sometimes.
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:02PM (#56224173)

    News for nerds from the 19th century.

  • ... that they will get violent and try to stop it by force. This usually just reduced their capability to deal with change and does nothing to stop or delay change at all.
    At this time the only thing that can be reasonably expected to stop self-driving cars is the collapse of civilization.

  • What we need is a self-driving car with a fake wooden driver, so as not to alarm the other humans traveling on the road.

    hat tip: horsey horseless [wired.com].

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:06PM (#56224203)

    I can't wait until the food delivery robots start making their rounds.
    All it would take would be a crowbar for random people to get access to regular food deliveries.

    • All it would take would be a crowbar for random people to get access to regular food deliveries.

      Free cheeseburger, go to jail for felony vandalism, because those things are festooned with cameras.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        They have to catch you first.
        They have real criminals to catch first.
        If you RTFA, you'll see that nobody was arrested for the incidents.

        • You obviously haven't watched Demolition Man.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @08:16PM (#56224595) Homepage

          They have to catch you first. They have real criminals to catch first. If you RTFA, you'll see that nobody was arrested for the incidents.

          More specifically, it said they didn't call the police in the first place. I guess they're trying to send the message that you're just being a nuisance and we don't care, so there's no point in doing it and maybe avoid a Streisand effect. If that backfires I'm sure they'll call in the police if they take serious damage, widespread damage, have repeat offenders or the service for paying customers is sabotaged. Right now though it seems they're just reporting it to be totally up-front with the regulators about all unwanted contact, not because it matters.

    • by flux ( 5274 )

      And the great thing about crowbars is that they work on delivery people as well! Just pick a pizza delivery or UPS guy, apply crowbar and BAM you've got free pizza or some random gizmo off the Internet!

  • by timere969 ( 2833731 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:10PM (#56224221)
    They are not beating on it because it is self-driving. They are beating on it because it is a GM.
  • that leaving expensive equipment unattended on city streets would invite vandalism. Next you're going to tell me that cash registers need attendants and copper wire should be stored in fenced lots or locked warehouses.
    • The cars had human back-up drivers in them as still required by California law, so no, the cars were not unattended.
  • Home of fruits, nuts and flakes..

    Not everybody there is crazy of course, but they have more than their fair share of that part of the gene pool...

    Attacking driverless cars? Really guys? Who exactly are you trying to communicate with?

    • They're just trying to convince the technology folks connected to cars to move more operations and staff to AZ instead of CA. In that sense, I guess they're doing them a service?

  • Self-driving cars meticulously observe speed limits and stop signs, which I suppose would piss off California drivers. But why would PEDESTRIANS attack a car that has carefully stopped for them. If it hadn't, it wouldn't be vulnerable to attack in the first place.

    • Self-driving cars meticulously observe speed limits and stop signs

      ..which means they don't drive like humans. Unless they drive like a human they're going to piss people off. I know I hate it when the person in front of me drives the speed limit religiously.

      • Unless they drive like a human they're going to piss people off.

        That applies to other drivers but also pedestrians. I had a moronic human stop dead still in the middle of the street because I was standing on the sidewalk looking across to the other side. I was actually planning to jaywalk when the traffic cleared, but she made sure that the traffic would never clear and forced a lot of other people to stop for no reason other than to not run into her.

        When she stuck her hand out the window and started waving me across, I just waved back at her and laughed. One thing hum

  • Would it be possible to put that self driving technology into a 1958 Plymouth Fury? [wikipedia.org]

  • enough to let them drive, you might as well give them CCW permits.

  • Tell us how great the bay area is again?

    • Tell us how great the bay area is again?

      Even the rest of the Bay Area thinks San Franciscans (and Berkeley) are a bit over the top.

  • by meglon ( 1001833 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:29PM (#56224335)
    I mean, seriously biased. The title should be: Freedom Fighters from the Future Engage in Skirmishes with Machines to Push Back Judgement Date.
  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @07:29PM (#56224337)
    I mentioned earlier in a comment that I thought autonomous vehicles would be come mobile billboards for taggers.
    Going to be Interesting when! [slashdot.org] I also think they will be magnets for those wanting to do vandalism.

    they will soon fit right in with our urban areas, becoming disgusting to anyone who might think about using them..

    You can not take urban vandalism and collapse out of the city.

    . Just my 2 cents ;)
  • The question is not whether people are attacking driverless cars.
    Of course they are. Because people attack normal, manual cars. Several movies have scenes where people go down the street and hit every single car parked on the street.

    The right question is: "Is the average driverless car attacked more often then the average car?"

  • by WilliamGeorge ( 816305 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2018 @08:25PM (#56224673)

    In Soviet California, pedestrian runs into you!

  • This is simply a response to the failure to communicate. In CA as in many other places, it is customary for drivers and pedestrians to enjoy a lively communication. This typically involves vigorous hand, arm and facial body language as well as enthusiastic vocal invitations to do various things with various body parts.

    In order to comply with this tradition, my wife and I would share this responsibility. Whichever was NOT driving the vehicle would yell at the assholes in other vehicles, and pedestrians who got out of the way, and apply the appropriate gestures. In this fashion, the driver was relieved of the duty and able to focus clearly on the next target down the road.

    Self-driving cars are not yet sophisticated enough to participate in this essential communication, which causes understandable frustration.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      This is simply a response to the failure to communicate. In CA as in many other places, it is customary for drivers and pedestrians to enjoy a lively communication. This typically involves vigorous hand, arm and facial body language as well as enthusiastic vocal invitations...

      I invented Deep Flip to automate such communication. It's web-scale. We're currently testing it on dumbshits and dipwads. Next week we'll start on asstards.

    • "Reload and lay down some cover fire for me, dear, I'm changing lanes!"

  • ...self driving cars will be obstacles

    They will be slow, very slow.. kinda like a stoned old dude

    People will attempt all sorts of extreme maneuvers to get around them

    Most will succeed, some will fail

    • by mea2214 ( 935585 )
      This is why we need to get rid of reckless drivers on the road. Make the driving test extremely difficult and make driving infractions enforced automatically so you have to drive carefully. If you can't and lose your license, no big deal, rent a self driving car.
  • That is all of us. All Californians are angry. Wouldn't you be if you were taxed like us?

  • I've long maintained that whether or not self-driving cars succeed will depend on what happens to the liability. Right now, when two drivers get into an accident, the fact that they're both people creates a natural balance. Neither side is favored, resulting in blame and liability being properly assigned.

    But if there's an accident between a person and a machine, there's a natural tendency to blame things on the machine. Car suddenly accelerates out of control? It must be a malfunction with the accele
  • The police were not called in either case.

    Well of course not. This is California, where the lawbreaker is always in the right.

  • Anyone else amused that the article conflates SF with the entirety of CA? News flash, folks: SF, LA and SD could very well be their own distinct state, with everyone else making up a very very red state.

    Personally, I'd love to see that. Give them what they want; their own state. Their own echo chamber to do with as they please.

    It'd be even more amusing than some random dumbass conflating SF with the entire state of CA.

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