With artificial intelligence finally coming into vogue, we’re now in a place in which we can witness how humanity will choose to deal with our SkyNET-esque machine cousins. We recently discussed how one AI managed to beat the pants off of some of the best contract lawyers in the nation when set to the task of evaluating a series of legal contracts. In that report, we were not given much in the way of insight as to what the human lawyers’ responses to being beat so badly were.
That’s not the case when it comes to how people are reacting to driverless cars, however. It seems that there have been a handful of incidents in San Francisco, where this technology is being rolled out, in which humans have reacted with mild violence to the innocent actions of autonomous vehicles.
According to the report, a Cruise AV was “stopped behind a taxi” when the taxi driver got out, “approached the Cruise AV, and slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch. There were no injuries and police were not called.”
Just a few weeks earlier, nearby, in the heart of the Mission District on January 2 at 9:27pm, a Cruise AV was stopped. The car was attempting to make a right-hand turn from northbound Valencia Street onto 16th Street and was properly waiting for pedestrians to cross 16th.
Suddenly, a “different pedestrian from the southwest corner ran across Valencia, ignoring the ‘Do Not Walk’ sign.” This man, according to the report, was “shouting, and struck the left side of the Cruise AV’s rear bumper and hatch with his entire body. There were no injuries, but the Cruise AV sustained some damage to its left rear light. The police were not called.”
Unclear in these reports is whether or not the humans carrying out the physical retribution had any idea the cars in question were of the driverless variety. Due to a current state law that will cease to be in effect this Spring, autonomous vehicles are currently required to have a human being behind the wheel, ready to take action if needed. What is not unclear, however, is that the cars and the AI driving them in these incidents did not do anything wrong, never mind anything warranting violence.
The law requiring humans behind the wheel of these cars was enacted out of fear of driverless cars accidentally harming pedestrians. It seems perhaps that driverless cars have more to fear from humanity than the other way around.