Mar 10, 2018 2:00 AM
PT New rules for “self-driving cars” in California highlight a glaring misconception about how A.I. works.

An educated public understands that autonomous vehicles are amazing but that they are so far unable to fully take control of a passenger vehicle with no human behind the wheel. Whoa, slow your roll there, self-driving car narrative.

California just approved licenses for self-driving cars to in fact have no human driver behind the wheel, or no human in the vehicle at all (after dropping off a passenger, or for deliveries) with one caveat: The self-driving car companies must monitor and be able to take over driving remotely. This rule matches other parts of the country where no-driver autonomous vehicles have been allowed.

There’s no human in the car, or at least the driver’s seat, but remote monitoring and remote control make that possible, safe and legal. I imagine NASA-like control rooms filled with operators and screens and traffic reports, where maybe a few dozen people are monitoring a few hundred vehicles, then taking control when they malfunction, freeze up or confront complex driving scenarios.

It’s also possible that remote monitoring could be done in call center-like cubicle farms. Here are the autonomous vehicle companies I’m aware of that are public about building or have already built such control rooms: Come to think of it, it’s not just the autonomous cars that need human help when the A.I. isn’t intelligent enough to handle unexpected situations. Read more from…

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