New Luddite Revolt Targets Driverless Cars

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Here’s some great Atrios bait today:

The assailant slipped out of a park around noon one day in October, zeroing in on his target, which was idling at a nearby intersection — a self-driving van operated by Waymo, the driverless-car company spun out of Google. He carried out his attack with an unidentified sharp object, swiftly slashing one of the tires. The suspect, identified as a white man in his 20s, then melted into the neighborhood on foot.

….At least 21 such attacks have been leveled at Waymo vans in Chandler, as first reported by The Arizona Republic. Some analysts say they expect more such behavior as the nation moves into a broader discussion about the potential for driverless cars to unleash colossal changes in American society. The debate touches on fears ranging from eliminating jobs for drivers to ceding control over mobility to autonomous vehicles.

It’s the Luddites reborn! Luckily for them, they’ll get off easier than the loom smashers of old, who were variously hanged, shipped off to Botany Bay, or tossed in prison for a few years. On the other hand, I don’t imagine they’ll have any more impact than the original Luddite rioters either. The power looms took over and so will the driverless cars. Resistance is futile.

I continue to be amazed by the number of people who are convinced that driverless cars are a mirage. Their arguments boil down to driving is complicated and they don’t work yet. Both true! And both meaningless. Weaving is also complicated, and the first power looms were kind of clunky. But they worked eventually and so will driverless cars. We’re better off figuring out what to do about it than we are putting our heads in the sand.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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