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Speeding Ticket Robots — Laws As Algorithms

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the you-have-been-flagged-for-17,092-speeding-violations dept.

Transportation 400

An anonymous reader writes "As the age of autonomous cars and drone surveillance draws nearer, it's reasonable to expect government to increasingly automate enforcement of traffic laws. We already deal with red light cameras, speed limit cameras, and special lane cameras. But they aren't widespread, and there are a host of problems with them. Now, Ars reports on a group of academics who are attempting to solve the problem of converting simple laws to machine-readable code. They found that when the human filter was removed from the system, results became unreasonable very quickly. For example, if you aren't shy about going 5 mph over the limit, you'll likely break the law dozens of times during an hour of city driving. On the freeway, you might break it continuously for an hour. But it's highly unlikely you'd get more than one ticket for either transgression. Not so with computers (PDF): 'An automated system, however, could maintain a continuous flow of samples based on driving behavior and thus issue tickets accordingly. This level of resolution is not possible in manual law enforcement. In our experiment, the programmers were faced with the choice of how to treat many continuous samples all showing speeding behavior. Should each instance of speeding (e.g. a single sample) be treated as a separate offense, or should all consecutive speeding samples be treated as a single offense? Should the duration of time exceeding the speed limit be considered in the severity of the offense?' One of the academics said, 'When you're talking about automated enforcement, all of the enforcement has to be put in before implementation of the law—you have to be able to predict different circumstances.'"

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I'll just go ahead and take the metro (5, Funny)

mozumder (178398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406201)

rather than risk a speeding ticket every clock cycle.

Re:I'll just go ahead and take the metro (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406379)

rather than risk a speeding ticket every clock cycle.

So you, for one, do not welcome our new robotic speeding ticket issuing overlords?

Re:I'll just go ahead and take the metro (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406739)

So you, for one, do not welcome our new robotic speeding ticket issuing overlords?

robots.txt

Re:I'll just go ahead and take the metro (1)

Reality Man (2890429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406435)

If that's the Montreal Metro, you better not take it at rush hour or it might just stop for a few hours.

Re:I'll just go ahead and take the metro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406675)

Yeah just wait until you need 3 forms of ID and a strip search before boarding. If these kinds of totalitarian approaches to traffic enforcement become common we are likely to see ourselves interacting with the government regardless of transit type.

Just set it to clock speed (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406217)

You got 1.5 billion tickets in the last second, because you went 1.1 MPH over the speed limit.

Yeah, that will go over real swell.

Especially since, much easier would be to add a routine to the smart cruise control to never exceed the speed limit to begin with.

Re:Just set it to clock speed (4, Insightful)

jbresciani (2860867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406277)

and if they don't pull you over to ticket you, how does it fix the problem? you are ticketed for speeding because someone somewhere has deemed that speed unsafe to yourself and/or others in that location. if you simply ticket, you didn't fix the problem. if you pull them over and ticket, then there is a good chance they will shy away from speeding for a little while.

I know people who've received multiple automated speeding tickets but they didn't get the first one for three days, then they got three more form the same location. Lesson learned, but potentially to late.

Re:Just set it to clock speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406451)

this all can be resolved by gradual introduction i.e. first only warnings are sent and after say a month the warnings becomes tickets. I would think as soon as the system is introduced the number of speeding offences will decrease dramatically. This may actually clog the roads as people start driving slightly slower than limits to avoid fines. But I think automatic law enforcement should be nice - the question is whether manual override of any punishment is there. I guess there will be just to be sure that in case of problems people do not get into gas chamber because they went trough red light for the 3rd time the same day. If so then bribing will still be possible which makes the only advantage of the system to be cost. I wonder about the equal peers making judgments in cases where a bit more is at stake than a speeding ticket (if system gets extended). I can think even that civilization as we know it will cease to exist if all human courts get 'manned' by machines.

Re:Just set it to clock speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406719)

Actually no, the act of pulling someone over forces social stigmas onto them. There is a psychological action present that just means you learn where the camera is and slow down there then speed up dramatically to make up the time you lost. Speed limits are set lower than reccomended quite regularly to inflate the ability to get tickets in certain areas.

Re:Just set it to clock speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406289)

Machines should enforce the law only against other machines.

Re:Just set it to clock speed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406579)

Instead of micro-transactions, you get micro-tickets.

Re:Just set it to clock speed (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406807)

Cruice control send up swith the same issue. If the algorithm exceeds target speed for even a few seconds - steep hill,or got rammed from behind by another driver - then you still end up with a ticket.

GASP we break the law all the time and no one dies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406219)

Who would have thought we can break many laws every day and no one dies.

It's as if people actually thought no one was breaking that many laws every day. They believe the law is so just and amazing.

Computers show us how silly that is..... I broke a few laws driving home today I'm sure. Probably some code violations on this house right now.... but the world still spins.

The trick is to move away from other people, who only serve their own interests and happily monitor everything you do or complain when you act differently or make some noise. Moving away from close neighbors is the most relaxing thing I could imagine.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (2)

SendBot (29932) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406339)

I renovated a house not long ago where the late owner did a lot of work himself... poorly. Many of the outlets had their ground and neutral reversed. Sure, the world continues to spin and appliances will work when plugged into it. It could also kill a person quickly in certain situations.

I make a distinction about that being a good safety regulation imposed by law, versus speed limits where one driver can be safer over the speed limit than a less capable driver under the speed limit.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (3, Interesting)

jbresciani (2860867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406439)

that's another good distinction.

  I've heard of semi drivers getting multiple tickets on the same stretch of road for going the same speed, once for going too fast, once for going too slow (compared to the rest of the traffic flow). Speeding should be a judgement call, not a fixed thing. Being above the limit by 15% on a nice, dry, sunny summer day isn't as bad as being 15% above on a snowy/icey winter morning/evening. So long as you're not driving like an ass

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406529)

ng above the limit by 15% on a nice, dry, sunny summer day isn't as bad as being 15% above on a snowy/icey winter morning/evening.

Except, it's not safe to pull cars over in the rain or heavy traffic, so you only get speeding tickets when it's perfectly safe to speed. Sadly, I don't believe ticketing and safety have anything to do with each other any more. Personally, I'd love to see some ticketing for lack of turn signals, failure to yield and tail gating. Then again, I'd like to see the cops start obeying those laws.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (2)

void* (20133) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406621)

I had a friend who got pulled over on the way to a store and ticketed for both speeding and obstructing traffic.

Basically, she was going over the limit, but not enough over the limit to not be impeding a block of cars behind her. I think she managed to get one of them thrown out but I don't remember all that well.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (0)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406429)

Who would have thought we can break many laws every day and no one dies

On average, around a hundred people die in automobile collisions every day in the US. Since the energy involved is proportional to the square of the velocity, the consquences of a collision increase dramatically as the speed goes up. It's hard to say what fraction of those hundred deaths are directly attributable to speeding, but it is inconceivable that it would be zero.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (3, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406545)

That's not his point.

His point was exactly what he stated - that we all, individually, break many laws on a daily basis, often unknowingly, and no one dies as a result. The proportion of speeding offenses vs deaths caused by excessive speed is just icing on the cake.

Case in point: ever discuss a broadcasted sporting event in a public place, without express written consent of the sporting organization and broadcasting network? If you said 'yes,' then you've broken the law, even though it has harmed not a soul.

I'm pretty sure that's what AC was getting at.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406743)

Case in point: ever discuss a broadcasted sporting event in a public place, without express written consent of the sporting organization and broadcasting network? If you said 'yes,' then you've broken the law, even though it has harmed not a soul.

No, you're not breaking the law. You're just breaking the imaginary law that the networks claim exists.

Re:GASP we break the law all the time and no one d (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406731)

Sure, and a lot of them are probably from people driving too slowly.

1984 (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406237)

What could possibly go wrong with a large computer system continuously monitoring every American roadway?

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406363)

Don't be so insular, this obsession with monitoring isn't limited to the USA.

Re:1984 (5, Informative)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406419)

Just visit the UK, your favorite 1984 country.
Last time I visited (been a while though) they had automated cams on highways, capturing your license plate (with timestamp). At the next surveillance point, next cam recognizes your plate again.
If distance / (time2 - time1) exceeds speed limit, voila, ticket.

Re:1984 (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406757)

Except mainframes died in the mean time that you've been in your stasis pod- these days you're talking about millions of potential computer cops in every vehicle.

Autonomous vehicles (5, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406251)

What the hell are they going to do when we're all in autonomous vehicles that always obey the speed limit and their revenue stream dries up?

(Actually, I don't even think we'll need speed limits once autonomous cars are commonplace -- at least, not on highways)

Re:Autonomous vehicles (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406333)

(Actually, I don't even think we'll need speed limits once autonomous cars are commonplace -- at least, not on highways)

  -- Right, Because no one will modify/hack/root kit their vehicle to exceed the speed limit

Re:Autonomous vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406399)

I can't wait to root my car. Cyanogen X!

Re:Autonomous vehicles (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406491)

What would be the point when it then promptly crashes into the car ahead? If I could have a car where I could sit back and relax with a cup of coffee and a newspaper while it drives me to work I would gladly have it go at (or even under) the speed limit. In an automated system, there could even be a designated lane (accessible for a small fee) where cars would go faster, and those of us not in a rush could chill in the regular lanes. Sounds fantastic.

Re:Autonomous vehicles (1)

ichthus (72442) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406497)

If we're all going 120 down the highway, each car monitoring its proximity to its neighbors and continually making adjustments, why would you want to?

Re:Autonomous vehicles (2)

pipedwho (1174327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406673)

Why bother. The offence would simply be something to the effect of "tampering with an automated vehicular safety / control system". And anything that the monitoring network determines are "out of parameter" activities would just trigger a more thorough investigation. eg. changing a vehicle to go faster (or fall outside any other specification) than allowed by the road's mandated control algorithm, would be so easily detected that you may as well broadcast the fact that your car is malfunctioning.

In fact, the most obvious course of action when detecting a faulty vehicle would be to remotely command it to enter the safety stop state. If that doesn't work, the rest of the vehicles on the street could be alerted to the danger of the rogue vehicle, and an enforcement/safety/emergency strategy could be implemented along with a unit dispatched to intercept the faulty vehicle.

In the end, intentionally 'modifying/hacking/rooting' your own autonomous vehicle to circumvent safety protocols would be as useful as walking into a police station and pissing on the front desk.

Re:Autonomous vehicles (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406381)

What the hell are they going to do when we're all in autonomous vehicles that always obey the speed limit and their revenue stream dries up?

The same thing they do when increased fuel efficiency reduces the tax revenue from gasoline sales. Make a new tax to fill in the lost revenue.

There was a fairly recent debate somewhere in the USA about whether there needed to be a "mileage tax" because hybrids and electric cars don't "pay their fair share" of gasoline taxes and will do comparable damage to roadways as similar sized pure-ICE cars. (note that the debate was not over whether to replace the fuel taxes with mileage taxes, but to supplement them with new taxes)

Re:Autonomous vehicles (4, Interesting)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406587)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Yd9Ij0INX0 [youtube.com]

Google's cars actually speed. The engineers quickly found (or knew beforehand) that obeying the traffic laws as written was a good way to either cause an accident, or never get to your destination.

Re:Autonomous vehicles (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406839)

They don't need to plan that far ahead in government.
But they know they will get a new way to get revenue.

As electric cars become more common... gas tax revenues will drop... already you hear talk of tolls, gps tracking per mile...

Sure, autonomous cars means less ticket revenue.. .suddenly driver registration fees or tolls go up. ...

Don't try to apply logic to laws. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406253)

You will fail.

In my neck of the woods (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406257)

If you're not going 5mph over the limit, cops will pass you at 20+. They only start ticketing if you're driving faster than the prevailing speed (always faster than the limit, sometimes 10+ over).

Re:In my neck of the woods (1)

void* (20133) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406417)

This is not at all true. It depends on the cop and where you are. I've seen cops pull over multiple vehicles simultaneously, all of which were traveling at the prevailing speed.

Re:In my neck of the woods (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406755)

It depends on the cop and where you are.

You replied to a post titled "In my neck of the woods", so yeah.

Missing tag (1)

ZorroXXX (610877) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406261)

This post ought to be tagged with what-could-possibly-go-wrong.

Re:Missing tag (1)

mill3d (1647417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406433)

How about "3 Sea shells" ?

Terrible idea (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406269)

The Constitution makes it pretty clear that laws and punishment shouldn't be discretely related. Laws (and algorithms) are written by humans and humans aren't infallible. There's always an exception. Case in point, look at the way sexual predator lists are being abused by over-exuberant prosecutors.

Re:Terrible idea (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406559)

You could still go to court if you tought that the ticket was unfair.

Re:Terrible idea (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406655)

... and get railroaded, then have some hefty court costs lumped on top of the already excessive fine (as a punishment for exercising your rights), not to mention the time missed from work to go down to the courthouse and fight it...

Sorry, hard for me to believe there are still people out there who buy the whole "right to defend yourself" lie...

Re:Terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406801)

Honest question - where does the constitution say that?

My #1 feature request from car makers (4, Funny)

SendBot (29932) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406273)

And it's trivially easy to implement. You know how newer cars will beep if the seatbelt isn't engaged, and other examples of trying to correct driver behavior?

Society needs one of those to nag people who don't use turn signals. Make it so.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406331)

Already done.

I saw a new Daimler that would vibrate its steering wheel if you tried to change lanes without turn signal.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406571)

It doesn't do that if you are turning at a light, just if you lane-drift. And it doesn't stop you, just buzz the steering wheel. (My mother-in-law has one. Pretty neat.)

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406677)

It doesn't do that if you are turning at a light, just if you lane-drift. And it doesn't stop you, just buzz the steering wheel. (My mother-in-law has one. Pretty neat.)

Let me know when they replace the "mild buzzing in the steering wheel" system with a "50,000 volt shock to the arse..."

My mother-in-law could use a new set o' wheels herself...

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406615)

I think that's the automatic lane keeping feature. Something that should be mandatory in all cars.
Of course, I think all cars should come with adaptive cruise control with pedestrian detection. So make of it what you will.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406751)

Of course, I think all cars should come with adaptive cruise control with pedestrian detection. So make of it what you will.

So the car speeds up when it detects a pedestrian?

I am intrigued by you views and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406647)

THAT is a horrible UX decision. Whoever thought that was a good idea should be whipped. Until the computer is making all the decisions, I will be making all the decisions and dont second guess me. I dont mind braking systems that act in emergencies to correct a slide. I dont need a reminder about my turn signal and I am pretty fastidious about using it. When i dont use it, it is for good reason.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406679)

That's only for when there's an obstruction on the other lane, either a wall or some car in your blind spot. And it also engages the brakes on one side to get you back into your lane.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406489)

It think it's worse when they don't use the turn signal at the right time. A lot of drivers use the turn signal redundantly with the actual turn manoeuvre (when we can already see the car, you know, turning), rather than as an advance warning that a turn is about to happen.

Re:My #1 feature request from car makers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406629)

And then you have the people who forget to turn it off. Because they can't notice a blinking light and that clicky noise that accompanies a turn signal being on.

HEY MAN, ARE YOU FREAKING TURNING OR WHAT?

No, you're just checking Google Maps on your cellphone. Yeah, that's cool, never mind.

Make reasonable laws - AND ENFORCE THEM VIGOROUSLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406293)

What is the point of having a 65 mph speed limit if everyone does 70 mph? We should set the limit then at 70 mph, and ticket anyone who goes 0.1 mph over that. No exceptions. It's how they do it with BAC.

Re:Make reasonable laws - AND ENFORCE THEM VIGOROU (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406593)

The point to not ticketing for going 0.1 mph is that not everyone's speedometer is going to be perfectly calibrated....

Re:Make reasonable laws - AND ENFORCE THEM VIGOROU (1)

cancerward (103910) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406623)

Yes, I agree with this part. I'm reading Tom Vanderbilt's "Traffic" at the moment - there's a chapter on traffic norms. He compares driving in China, India and Africa and talks about the strong correlation between corruption and traffic accident and death rates among countries. For example, Belgium has much higher accident rates than the neighbouring country, the Netherlands, and this can be partially explained by the culture. The speed limit issue raised in the summary is just about American cultural norms.

Traffic is filled with injunctive norms, telling drivers what to do and what not to do. But the descriptive norm is often saying something else - and saying it louder. The most common example is the speed limit. The law on many U.S. highways is 65 miles per hour, but a norm has gradually emerged that says anything up to 10 miles per hour above that is legal fair game. Raise the speed limit, and the norm tends to shift; driving the speed limit starts to seem hazardous.

In Australia the current Australian Design Rules for vehicles say speedometers aren't allowed to under-read, so the police can book you if you are 1 km/h over the speed limit if they like. I don't know what tolerance they actually use, but driving at the speed limit is no problem here for other drivers.

The chapter in the book also talks about tipping, which seems like a form of corruption to me. "If you want to know how corrupt a given country is, you may not need a big police sting. You could just look at how regularly its citizens tip." However, it seems like "the norm" to people living in tipping countries and they often defend it (just like Australians often defend mandatory bicycle helmet laws).

One of the least corrupt countries in the world is Finland, where your traffic fine is proportional to your income.

Re:Make reasonable laws - AND ENFORCE THEM VIGOROU (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406781)

And in Australia, you DO get fined for going 5mph over the limit. That's 8km/h... worth a couple of hundred dollars in most .au states. I've driven extensively in the USA and in Australia, and in my experience the .au cops are already much like a computer - they will fine you for the most minor infringement on a clear dry day, and get very hostile if you try to reason with them.

In the US however, some headroom is allowed over the speed limit, in particular, I've found, in snowy states in summer. It's almost like the cops recognise that the speed limit is too high for bad weather, but conversely too low for a clear day. it's almost like the cops _think_ instead of mindlessly raising revenue ;-)

Of course, this is anecdotal, and in my ten years of driving there are less than 10 data points (as I don't make a habit of speeding, in any country!) so YMMV.

I predict... (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406301)

I will run red lights for 1 day and argue I should only get 1 ticket.

Reckless driving (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406305)

It's the poorly defined "reckless driving" that should be ticketed and enforced... not the easily quantifiable speeding. Speeding doesn't cause accidents. It's the stupid folks who dunno how to drive.

Also, perhaps we need some progressive lanes ("fast" lane on highway has the same speed limit as the "slow" lane...?). Perhaps designate the -20mph for slow lane, and +20mph on the fast lane?

Re:Reckless driving (1, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406407)

It's the poorly defined "reckless driving" that should be ticketed and enforced... not the easily quantifiable speeding. Speeding doesn't cause accidents. It's the stupid folks who dunno how to drive.

THIS, a million times over.

The guy doing 90 MPH in the fast lane, but not riding asses or driving recklessly, is far less likely to cause an accident than the narcissistic highway nannies who will intentionally cut him off at 65 MPH, just to "teach that guy a lesson."

Re:Reckless driving (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406569)

Wrong. If everyone went 90mph it would be far safer than having one guy going 65 and another going 90 on the same road. The point of speed limits is to get everyone going as close as possible to the same speed, then their speed relative to each other is miniscule causing interactions to happen more slowly and less frequenty.

Re:Reckless driving (-1, Flamebait)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406855)

Wrong.

Fuck your "wrong." What, are you one of those egocentric asshats that appoints yourself Lord and Master of the Interstate or something?

P.S. if you're going to tell someone that they're incorrect, explain it. Otherwise you just look like an asshole.

If everyone went 90mph it would be far safer than having one guy going 65 and another going 90 on the same road.

True. Then again, if slow-moving fuckheads would just keep right (as they're supposed to by current law) and not intentionally cut off faster moving traffic, you'd get the same result.

I blame the lack of training requirement, myself - it is way to damn easy to get a driving license in this country, which probably accounts for more accidents than anyone is willing to admit. I mean, think about it - in most states, at the age of 16 you can get a card that lets you legally operate 2+ tons of steel, hurtling at speeds up to 70-80 MPH, by taking a short written test (as many times as you need to pass it), and subsequent short driving test (which, again, can be retaken repeatedly with no penalty).

The point of speed limits is to get everyone going as close as possible to the same speed, then their speed relative to each other is miniscule causing interactions to happen more slowly and less frequenty.

Considering the significant difference between the maximum (70) and minimum speed (45) on the interstate, I find that theory dubious at best; Rent-seeking seems a far more plausible rationale.

RFID exempted (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406307)

Should there be any doubt that city officials, their departments, their families, and pretty much anyone that bribes.... err, contributes to their campaigns will receive the transponder that causes the system to ignore that extra `15 MPH over the limit?

SeaQuest (2)

HippopotamusX (2628523) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406319)

As a child, I remember a SeaQuest episode where they came back to Earth (I think), and were told by a robotic voice that they had been fined for exceeding the speed limit. I don't remember much of my childhood, but I remember being struck with terror by this. It left a lasting impression.

We can make a horrible world. (4, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406321)

Our technologies and laws allow us to do lots of things.

We should perhaps ask instead, what kind of society we are making?

If we're making a miserable place that focuses on details of law-breaking more than the big factor, which is how safe/smart of a driver someone is, we're penalizing good behavior and encouraging people to live in a nit-picky miserable world.

We can make a horrible world, if we want; however, we might prefer not to.

Re:We can make a horrible world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406527)

The problem is that it isn't "we" making this stuff. It is counties, states, cities, and other municipalities who make large amounts of cash [1] from fining people, or making insurance rates rise.

What I see happening is that things will not go well for the average commuter. We already have red light cameras that have had yellow light timing reduced, or even eliminated (yep, I've seen a light go from green to red without a yellow in between, and this was at random at a camera light.)

What will happen is that multiple speed cameras will be set to watch a stretch of road, and they will all go off at the same time, so someone will end up with a number of tickets. Perhaps with a bogus value.

This reminds me of a small town in Arizona... the highway going through the town was 65. However, almost hidden behind a bush was a 20MPH (32kph for those in civilized nations) school zone sign that had no flashing lights, but oddball times. There were cops past that with spike strips in the road ready to go. Since 65 in a 25 is a felony in that state, the local finest did felony-hard tactics against passersby -- spike strip the car, yank the person out, search the vehicle (a felony was committed, so no Fourth Amendment needed.) When I went to a pub in that town, I learned it was a great money-maker since people would jump bail as opposed to sitting for months in their jail. Plus, they usually ended up with the vehicle that sold well at auctions.

I can see computers doing the same thing, except in more places, as it is easily deployed.

[1]: Especially if they find controlled substances in the vehicle, then they get a free set of wheels.

Re:We can make a horrible world. (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406765)

A solution would be to make it illegal to have a change in speed limit above a certain rate downwards... any township caught doing so would be fined dramatically each time the state sherif drove through the area. If corporations are people, then incorporated towns are people too, and so there probably need to be laws restricting their behavior as well.

Driving Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406329)

Automated enforcement is just a driving tax since everybody will eventually be caught since humans are proven to fault and always on camera.

Common sense.. (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406347)

Would dictate that instead of trying to make a system which punishes, one should do a system which enforces. In other terms, automated highways where your cars are regulated and automated for the drive.

To me, that would be a much more worthwhile goal to strive for.

There are consequences... (2)

Randym (25779) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406355)

An automated system, however, could maintain a continuous flow of samples based on driving behavior and thus issue tickets accordingly.

An unanticipated consequence of an "always-on" mass surveillance system. "Big Brother is always watching."

Re:There are consequences... (1)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406759)

It's already happening. Intelligent traffic systems are sniffing bluetooth MAC addresses to monitor traffic flow for light timing, etc. They say no information is retained but to do the job it has to be retained and transmitted. Just wait until it starts showing up in court proceedings.

John Spartan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406371)

...you are fined five hundred credits for repeated violations of the transportation morality statute.

Evil does not need mind transfer to robots! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406373)

TFA is so bad it's not even wrong.

"I'm surrounded by wrong people. They don't even know they're wrong."

Do not automate highway robbery.

  Go back to the original rationale for this highway robbery -- ostensibly safety. Use computers to enhance safety by improving cars. Do not allow a horrid little man to sit in a room while robots collect checks for him. Make them do it the hard way.

THEIR PROCESS DOES NOT NEED TO BE MADE EFFICIENT. Engineers, stop selling your souls for money. Work instead to make these highway robbers obsolete.

Re:Evil does not need mind transfer to robots! (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406577)

Do not allow a horrid little man to sit in a room while robots collect checks for him.

ah, high frequency trading; yes, let's put those parasites to the flames.

Re:Evil does not need mind transfer to robots! (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406821)

Given that practically everybody breaks several laws a day, the only thing that keeps it from blowing up in our faces is the inefficiency. Every law effectively has a clause built-in that it has to bother someone badly enough to make them want to do something about it. Anything that allows for pushbutton law enforcement needs a counterbalance lest our legal system become progressively more draconian through unintended consequences.

Fines as revenue are a problem since they add an unwarranted incentive to their enforcement, especially fines that fund the enforcer rather than the general budget.

Finally (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406377)

It's about time computers started issuing automated citations. I've still got no clue what to do with the seashells.

Is it really that hard to average and peak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406401)

Average the speed and take the peak. Of course, you'd have to re-write the law to specify violations in terms of average and peak. Thank-you. Now where do I send the bill for consulting services? Nevermind... got your account number. Withdrawing... withdrawing... thanks again.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406449)

Computers should never be used to enforce a law, ever.

As an investigative tool, yes, but they should never replace human police officers.

This could be the beginning of a horrible time.

the difference is (3, Insightful)

new death barbie (240326) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406515)

... that an actual cop will PULL YOU OVER to issue a ticket. The speeding behavior stops, and the roads become safer, at least while your car is parked at the side of the road, and hopefully remain safer when you proceed, suitably chastised. The cop has a chance to ensure that you are not inebriated or otherwise unfit to drive before he allows you to proceed. If you choose to speed again and he catches you again, you get stopped and a second ticket is issued. Repeat as necessary.

Issuing tickets based purely on observation fail to stop the illegal behavior and do little to make the roads safer, until much much later, when the ticket catches up with you in the mail (assuming a ticket is enough to change your behavior).

Re:the difference is (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406671)

But, but then you couldn't be ticketed multiple times. Think of the lost revenue.

The thing is current systems will give a separate ticket for each data point. The difference is, you only have one or two data points per drive.

Re:the difference is (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406775)

That's the point of having speeding laws; it is not the point of having automated enforcement. The point of automated enforcement is to increase revenues.

Why have a speed limit? (1)

Mr. Chow (2860963) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406517)

I don't see why autonomous cars should have a legal speed limit at all. The whole reason to have one now is that drivers tend to drive outside the capability of their own or their vehicle's capacity and may cause injury to others. With an autonomous vehicle, the algorithms should have a very reasonable idea of the vehicle's capacity because the manufacturers will most likely be in some way liable for the vehicle's actions. So if you're in an autonomous Mercedes, why shouldn't you be doing 150 mph on the highway?

Re:Why have a speed limit? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406723)

You wont be determining your speed in your automated mercedes, the ROAD will. Autonomous cars will all be controlled BY THE ROAD itself. You wont be allowed to make any piloting decisions besides destination.

One Enforcement Per Law Per Cop (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406521)

Sure, automate the detection, but the enforcement, IMHO, must be manual, i.e., a ticket must be issued in person by an officer of the law. Furthermore, that cop should only be able to charge you with one instance of each law broken, i.e. one speeding charge, one reckless charge, etc. I think that would strike a decent balance.

Of course, this won't actually happen since people are unwilling to pay reasonable taxes and police departments are forced to provide their own revenue somehow.

Re:One Enforcement Per Law Per Cop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406833)

there have already been plenty of reports (some with mention here on this site) of police departments using desk jockeys or even civilian workers to rubber-stamp automatic citations from the contracted surveillance company that are bogus....

therefore...

Sure, automate the detection,

.... of traffic incidents that justify further investigation.

the citation, on the other hand, should only be issued when an offense has been personally witnessed and verified by the issuing officer when it happened...

not quite (1)

Skewray (896393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406523)

I've seen badly parked cars with hundreds of plastered-on tickets. Clearly people can behave mindlessly in exactly the same way. Besides, it is illegal to be *caught* speeding; the speeding itself is okay.

Needs to take human behavior into account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406531)

Well, if they send out only one ticket a day for breaking the same law, then if you break the speed limit once any time in the morning and get an automated ticket for doing so, you may as well say "screw it" and continue to break the law the same way for the rest of the day. There's no incentive left to conform once you've broken the law once. If they send out tickets each and every time the law is broken, then you'll get ridiculous results kind of like those multi-thousand-dollar bills that people sometimes receive for "international roaming charges" because you don't realize the costs are incrementally piling up.

What's missing here with all these automated systems is the kind of prompt feedback you get from being pulled over by the police, or returning to your car to find a parking ticket on it. Any system where you don't find out about the violation until days or weeks later is seriously flawed.

LICENSE AND REGISTRATION PLEASE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406555)

DO YOU HAVE IDEA HOW FAST YOU WERE DRIVING?

Sorry, Officer, I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in.

BITE MY SHINY METAL ASS!

You're not gonna check the trunk, are you?

YOU HAVE TWENTY SECONDS TO COMPLY.

What? You need a license to drive?

THE SELF-DESTRUCT MECHANISM HAS BEEN ACTIVATED.

Whoops, that's the fake one... here ya go, this is the one.

I'M LOOKING FOR SARA CONNOR.

Do I have any fruits or vegetables? I don't know. Is cocaine a fruit or vegetable?

BEE-DEE BEE-DEE BEE-DEE. BUCK.

Hey, is that a 9mm ? That's nothing compared to this .44 magnum!

Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406631)

"They found that when the human filter was removed from the system, results became unreasonable very quickly."

I call BS. Just write the code with some extra if's and reference how long ago the last event was, etc. Seriously, we all carry 1990s supercomputers in our pockets and the chess champion of the world has been a machine. This article is just dumb.

Breaking News: Instructions for computers..... (1)

IntentionalStance (1197099) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406639)

need to be more precise, detailed and complete than those given to people. Who'd have thought it

life & death (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406659)

Maybe a bit off topic, but...
I spoke with someone recently who expressed concern about algorithms relating to self-driving cars, not just laws. When start having computers written to decide who gets a fine, for instance, self-driving cars will have safety algorithms which, depending on how a crash goes, are likely to have to decide at some point who stays safe and who doesn't in an inevitable crash.

So, what are the limits of computer code in these situations?

How about.. (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406695)

You're getting sandwiched between two 18-wheelers. If you break, the car following will definitely run into you.
If you press the pedal to the medal, computer will say no. Fair?

Cops should be worried (1)

sackofdonuts (2717491) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406697)

With drones doing the surveillance and now automated speeding tickets cops won't have anything to do but go after real criminals. You would think the police unions would be getting out ahead of this stuff and start fighting it asap.

A job for legislators, not programmers (1)

time961 (618278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406703)

The truly frightening thing about this article is that the authors apparently felt it was the job of the programmers to determine what the reasonable algorithmic interpretation of the law's intent was, thus again demonstrating how completely out of touch with reality many academics seem to be.

The legislative process is appallingly imperfect, to be sure, but at least it has the pretense of openness and consideration of constituent interests. That's where these decisions need to be made.

Fortunately, since legislators break these laws as much as the rest of us, we probably don't have too much to worry about. Think about all those electronic toll systems--they certainly know how fast you were going, on average, and an intuitive application of the mean value theorem will quickly show that you were speeding, but we rarely if ever get tickets from those systems.

Re:A job for legislators, not programmers (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406837)

Currently, it's the cops who decide which car to pull over, how is that better? Also, this was just research, a programmer would likely get the set of rules to implement from the police. At least it would create an objective, potentially transparent system that treats every driver the same. Getting a ticket would depend on driving behaviour instead of luck.

You know.. (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406707)

I myself could be convinced that photo-radar, speed strips, red-light cameras and even "robots" are acceptable for use on public roads if money could be eliminated from the equation. It is simply not fair to expect legislators to set reasonable limits based on science and statistics when money is involved.

On that note, I've always wondered why no one has proposed destruction of ticket revenue as a clean solution to the problem.

If every last cent collected from fines was required to be destroyed, legislators would be freed from the burden of conflicted interest. They could focus clearly on policy objectives, without the question of profit clouding their judgment. Police would be freed up to do their jobs (which of course includes patrolling and traffic law enforcement, but based strictly on safety, not quotas).

As another bonus, destruction of ticket revenue would benefit everyone not fined by ever-so-slightly deflating the currency.

it would cause a (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406721)

Rage Against the Machine!!!
just think if traffic monitoring robots started issuing tickets for every slightest infraction, i bet many angry people would start destroying them with a good whack with a hammer, or paintball guns on the cameras and sensors

Built-In Tolerance (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406767)

In addition, the traffic laws themselves may have a tolerance built-in. For example, in Pennsylvania, the law mandates a 10-mph tolerance under most circumstances, and no court can accept a ticket for less than that over the limit.

Why not have cars automatically control your speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406817)

The car can know what the speed limit is along any road it travels, and it can be programmed to NEVER go above the speed limit.

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