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Self-Driving Cars Have ‘Every Incentive to Create Havoc’



self-driving car

Just 2,000 autonomous vehicles in downtown San Francisco would be enough to snarl traffic as cars will choose to “cruise” instead of pay for parking, a new analysis shows.
Adam Millard-Ball, a transportation planner and an associate professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz calculated the cost a self-driving car would incur in maintenance, wear and tear, and electricity at 50 cents an hour—less than feeding the meter in most towns, and certainly less than the cost of parking in San Francisco. So, as Millard-Ball explains, self-driving cars would instead circle the block again and again and again.

A human driver would eventually give up and pay for a spot in a parking garage. After all, they have somewhere to be, and driving the same block over and over is boring.

A self-driving car has nowhere to be until its owner has need for it. And self-driving cars don’t get bored. So they can circle. Forever.

“It just takes a minority to gum things up,” Millard-Ball said in a statement. As few as 2,000 self-driving cars could bring San Francisco traffic to two miles per hour, he calculated using a traffic micro-simulation model.

“Autonomous vehicles … can get around paying for parking by cruising,” he said. “They will have every incentive to create havoc.”

It gets worse. An AV could decide that it has a few hours to kill, so it’s just going to drive to the Googleplex (maybe say hello to its makers) and back. But that would put more wear and tear on the car. Millard-Ball calculated that self-driving cars will actually intentionally create traffic jams so they can waste as much time per mile as possible. Even if self-driving cars can’t communicate with other cars, they could choose the most congested street, essentially turning it into a parking lot.

ThinkProgress posited on an even more diabolical scenario: A company such as Uber could encourage its unused driverless cars to create congestion, which would maximize revenue for fare-paying passengers stuck with a congestion surcharge.

“The article’s conclusions should motivate public policymakers to require systems using Artificial Intelligence to provide information about how these systems operate,” Cordell Schachter, the chief technology officer for the New York City Department of Transportation, told ThinkProgress.

Banning cruising wouldn’t necessarily help, Millard-Ball said, since cruising is hard to define. What if an AV is delivering a package? The only solution he sees is congestion pricing, which has been politically difficult in the U.S. (New York just recently implemented congestion pricing, but only for taxis and for-hire vehicles, which taxi drivers have called the “suicide tax.”)

The price to deter AVs from cruising wouldn’t have to be as high as the congestion pricing set in other cities, Millard-Ball wrote. “If vehicles can park for $4 per hour but cruise for $0.48 per hour, then a charge of $3.52 per hour would be sufficient to encourage cost-minimizing vehicles to pay for parking.” A more sophisticated model could assign different fees to different streets or charge vehicles per mile traveled.

“This is the time to establish the principle [of congestion pricing],” Millard-Ball said, “and use it to avoid the nightmarish scenario of total gridlock.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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