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Should Self-Driving Cars Chauffeur Shopping 'Whales' For Free?

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the let's-go-on-a-comping-trip dept.

The Almighty Buck 213

theodp writes "Probably not the most fortuitous timing, but the USPTO has granted Google its wish for a patent on Transportation-Aware Physical Advertising Conversions, a system that arranges for free or discounted transportation to an advertiser's business location that will be more or less convenient based upon how profitable a customer is deemed. It's reminiscent of the free personal chauffeured limousine rides long enjoyed by Las Vegas casino 'whales', but at scale and using cars that may not have drivers. A server, Google explains, 'arranges the selected transportation option, for example, by dispatching a vehicle or providing instructions for using public transportation.' So, it seems a Larry or Sergey type might expect to be taken gratis to the Tesla dealership via a private autonomous car or even helicopter, while others may get a discount on a SF Muni bus ride to Safeway. Google also describes how advertisers will be able to use a customer's profile 'to exclude a customer from being considered for an offer based on exclusion criteria identified by a business,' such as age, job title, purchasing history, clothing size, or other 'desirable' characteristics."

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Discriminate by age and other characteristics (4, Insightful)

sideslash (1865434) | about 8 months ago | (#46051697)

Like race, perhaps? Even if it works out to race by other proxy characteristics, this has a lot of potential to blow up in the merchants' faces.

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051783)

Like race, perhaps? Even if it works out to race by other proxy characteristics, this has a lot of potential to blow up in the merchants' faces.

Does it ever occur to the niggers to stop being at the bottom of the barrel in single parenthood, welfare use, violent crime, and drug use? If they just fucking tried that for a while all of these "racism" things would go away. "Hmm I'm 19 and have no income and maybe I'm not sure where my next meal will come from. HEY, HERE'S A THOUGHT: maybe this is a bad time to get knocked up!" Moving in the right direction is that simple, folks.

The lesson here: behaving in conformance to a stereotype does NOT help make that stereotype go away. Cry about that all you want. Hate me for saying it all you want. Is that doing anything to fix the problem? Do you even want to fix the problem? Or do you like a permanent underclass that you can feel sorry for and compassionate about so you can justify your politics and feel like a good person? That's what makes me sick.

Mod the parent up. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051851)

I'm black. I'll freely admit it. And you're spot-on correct. Blacks in America today are given every opportunity to excel, and then some additional opportunities beyond that. We get the same access to public schools as anyone else. We get special scholarships at most colleges. We even get preferential treatment when applying for certain well-paying jobs. There's absolutely no excuse for a black youth of today to grow up into anything other than a successful, self-sustaining, law-abiding individual. When one chooses to engage in gangs, drugs, prostitution, and various forms of thuggery, then anyone and everyone should discriminate against that person. If they behave like shit, then I, as a black man, wish that they be treated like the shit that they are. Don't feel sorry for them. Don't cater to them. Just ostracize them. I personally wish that more of us successful blacks called out the pieces of trash who sully what should be our excellent reputation. If they choose to reject all that is so generously given to them, then we shouldn't feel sorry. We did what we can. If they don't want to do their part, then to hell with them.

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051993)

I have an online degree in chemical mathematics, so I know quite a bit about this subject and can be considered one of its foremost experts. To the question in the subject, I say this: No; absolutely not.

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052037)

Discriminating against prostitutes is wrong. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Re:Mod the parent up. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052105)

Unfortunately, that's not the whole story. Many of those kids come from wildly dysfunctional families. When your mom was knocked up at 16, you don't know who your dad is, and your uncle is a junkie, things won't be that easy. This is a self-perpetuating problem - it's been like that for well over a century.

Re:Mod the parent up. (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#46052303)

it's been like that for well over a century.

No it hasn't. In 1960, 5.3% of black babies were born out of wedlock. In 2012 it was 69%. We can "blame society" for many of the problems, due to misguided social policies on the left, and massive expansion of prisons on the right, but there is still plenty of additional blame to heap on the individuals for their own bad choices.

Re:Mod the parent up. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052605)

Being born out of wedlock isn't a problem unless you're a religious nut. A stable relationship is important, and marriage, by far, guarantees no such thing (as we've seen with divorce rates).

Re:Mod the parent up. (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#46052743)

it's been like that for well over a century.

No it hasn't. In 1960, 5.3% of black babies were born out of wedlock. In 2012 it was 69%. We can "blame society" for many of the problems, due to misguided social policies on the left, and massive expansion of prisons on the right, but there is still plenty of additional blame to heap on the individuals for their own bad choices.

In 1960 if you knocked up a 16 yr old girl, her dad made you marry her at gunpoint.

In 2012, if you knock up a 16 yr old girl, you get counseling whilst she goes on 16 and pregnant.

Marriage is a terrible metric for teen pregnancy considering fewer people in this age are actually getting married and those that do are generally getting married later in life. Now I think that teen pregnancy is actually lower today than in 1960 simply because there is more emphasis on contraception and sexual education.

As for blaming society, people are ultimately the product of the society they live in. Trying to push the blame solely onto individuals is a cop out. If you don't take measures to improve society, you cant expect individuals to better themselves en mass. When a lot of individuals from the same area or socioeconomic background make the same mistakes, you can almost always trace this back to their education (or lack their of), which makes is a social issue.

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052877)

Marriage may be a terrible metric, but study after study has proven that the best place for a child to grow up is in a stable home with a mother and a father looking after them. That sounds oddly familiar. Almost like it used to be a standard arrangement to have children in ...

When Mommy is knocked up at 16, there is no Daddy in sight and extended family, at best, doesn't care and at worst has their own problems (ie. drugs, alcohol, etc) to deal with, what hope does the kid have?

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

epyT-R (613989) | about 8 months ago | (#46053061)

Modern 'education' is teaching girls that pregnancy is not really their problem. All she has to do is petition the state to bilk it out of 16yo daddy, whether he's got it or not. It's about time that 'her body, her right, her choice', also became her responsibility. Watch how fast these girls will line up for abortions and become more careful once that mealticket is gone.

Re:Mod the parent up. (3, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | about 8 months ago | (#46053099)

Got some problems here. Yes, there are problems that need to be addressed that are social problems more than individual problems. There are also problems that need to be addressed that are more individual than social. And the two sets of problems are tightly intertwined. But ANY either/or "solution" is not a solution.

E.g., marriage. Did you ever read/see "My Fair Lady"? Consider the morality of Eliza's father. She was out of wedlock. He knew of her, and didn't feel obliged to support her. (More the converse, actually.) Now realize that this is a romanticized version of Shaw's Pygmalion, and that Shaw, himself, was not poor. But he knew his population. The poor, because of their economic incentives, diidn't take things like marriage seriously. The middle class did. So when Professor 'iggins arranged for Eliza's father to become relatively prosperous, he ended up getting married to Eliza's mother.

Well, fiction is not life. It's a simplified image of life. And many considered Shaw to be "too brutally frank". So I think we can be sure that he made things look better than they really were. But he also didn't lie about what he saw as the nature of morality. (This frequently got people quite upset with him.)

Now when we look at the modern US we see similar social customs. (Well, we need to mix in "Mack the Knife" to get an accurate image. Different authors show different aspects of their current social scene.) But when we see the same patterns popping up again, we are justified in assuming that there is something systematic going on. Blaming individuals won't solve that. But some people will succeed despite the environment. This is probably due to more luck than they will admit, but also due in part to their nature.

Additionally, "As the twig is bent..." has an unfortunate amount of truth to it. Solving the social problems won't immediately cure the individuals who have been warped by the existing system. Indeed, epigenetics suggests that there may be some physical damage that persists for several generations. (I think three is the largest that has been shown experimentally.) And the social equivalent of that is that children who are raised by parents who have been warped tend to acquire a warped personality in turn. Again, this has been shown to disipate over generations, but THIS problem can significantly diminish over just a few years. So it persists, but the level at which it persists can become low enough that it stops being a major impediment to others.

Please note that I have not recommended any particular means of solving the problem. I haven't been convinced by any proposal I've heard. Certainly not by any "anonomous coward" who claims to have escaped from the mess. Even if I had a real reason to believe that he is who he says, I would probably consider him mainly (though not entirely) someone who was extremely fortunate.

Re:Mod the parent up. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052151)

I'm black.

And yet, regardless of the rest of the content, you have no problem with a post that starts w/ the "N" word. You're black, and I'm the Queen of England.

Re:Mod the parent up. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052235)

And yet, regardless of the rest of the content, you have no problem with a post that starts w/ the "N" word.

Chris Rock said it best. There are black people, and there are niggers.

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053355)

Wr're all niggers in the eye of the Man.

The Man long ago figured out how to play us, and our perceptions of the others' niggerness against each other...

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052383)

Because... a black person can't rise above petty insult-trading in order to engage in intelligent discourse? Do you think all black people are touchy?

Re:Mod the parent up. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052201)

I'm black.

Oooooooooo look it's an oreo.

Re:Mod the parent up. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46052423)

And what about the black people harassed by "the man" (whatever form that takes)? I'm thinking of something like http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk] though I was personally involved with a person (of color) arrested for loitering at a bus stop. It's not one isolated case in FL. It's everywhere in the US, every day. Still. When that ends, then maybe some more people will take the hand offered to them. Until then, I don't blame them for the lack of trust in the help offered. Free treatment for syphilis? Sounds fun, why are my symptoms getting worse?

Re:Mod the parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052447)

I'm in IT and White and I have not worked with Black professional people before except with one gentleman at a previous job and that's someone I would hire for my own company in a heart-beat and not just to satisfy some retarded "EO" quota. I wish everybody was like that.

Re: Mod the parent up. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052861)

That is what we call a "Cosby-nigger" or a "Carlton Banks"

Re:Mod the parent up. (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 8 months ago | (#46052521)

I'm black

No, you're not. You're a racist AC, probably visiting from Stormfront. But if there's one thing people love, it's for an anonymous "black" guy to tell them that their racism is justified.

This is low, even by Slashdot standards.

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052159)

Biologically, 19 is a good age to get knocked up. When would you prefer women to bear children? After menopause? No wonder birth rates are declining.

Young adults have no income because they can't find jobs. They're on welfare because they can't find jobs. They're doing crimes because they can't find jobs. They're on drugs because they can't find jobs. Here's a thought: give a nigger a job. Give a nigger some gainful employment. Give a nigger something to do. Moving in the right direction is that simple.

Re: Discriminate by age and other characteristics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052911)

GIVE, GIVE, GIVE.
Go out and earn it. Nobody knocked on my door and handed me a job. I had to hit the streets well prepared to find work.

Re: Discriminate by age and other characteristics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053153)

Actually someone did. Someone gave you a job. Sure you had to look hard for one but when you finally found one, someone took a chance on hiring you. A black guy will do 10 times the leg work you did and maybe find an even crappier job than you got all because an employer will think, "I'm not hiring a black person"

Re: Discriminate by age and other characteristics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053285)

Actually someone did. Someone gave you a job. Sure you had to look hard for one but when you finally found one, someone took a chance on hiring you. A black guy will do 10 times the leg work you did and maybe find an even crappier job than you got all because an employer will think, "I'm not hiring a black person"

And they do that why? Because melanin offends them so much? No. Because the black community at large has embraced a culture of violence, thuggery, drug abuse, mistreatment of women, and devaluation of family especially fathers. Understand this: that is a choice they made! How hard is that to comprehend? No white person made them want to be gangstas. They learn this from other blacks.

There are always exceptional individuals who reject a toxic culture and those black people have no problem standing out from the thugs and gangsta types. Seriously it's a huge difference any interviewer would notice. The way someone speaks and the lack of an aggressive "I hate everyone and I dare you to fuck with me" attitude are really easy to recognize.

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (-1)

pete6677 (681676) | about 8 months ago | (#46052941)

Politicians (mainly Democrats) want a permanent black underclass in order to foster dependency which leads to an easily exploitable constituency. What do Democrats gain from this? Lots of social programs for their buddies to administer, and a lifetime of votes from the dependent underclass. After I moved to Chicago I learned all about this, as Chicago is the home of Jesse Jackson the master race baiter.

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053395)

You should see the shit that gets pulled in the South. You want to open up a factory/large business? Better hire a certain law firm to do at least a portion of your work. If you do, there won't be any issues; if you don't, you'll have race relations problems from day one.

Why do you discriminate against discriminators? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051785)

Why do you discriminate against those who wish to engage in discrimination?

I really don't see how you can seriously say that you're against discrimination, when doing so is inherently a form of discrimination in and of itself. You become the very same "evil" that you supposedly wish to eradicate.

So that means one of two things:

1) You realize this, making you a hypocrite. We should thus ignore everything that you say.

2) You don't realize this, making you an idiot. We should thus ignore everything that you say.

Which of those two is it?

Re:Why do you discriminate against discriminators? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051813)

You dare to question the Religion of Liberal Ideology?! Heretic! Sacrilege! Quick, somebody, MOD DOWN THE FREE THINKER! You will be shamed, name-called, modded down, and ostracized into conformity!!

Only *our* sacred discrimination is allowed! It's different when we do it for reasons we like! HERETIC! You do not DARE question this! Your reputation in the community depends on it!

Y'know, because people with facts on their side always do things this way. Err um I mean *EMOTIONAL OUTRAGE ABANDON REASON RIDICULE HIM MAKE BASELESS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST HIS CHARACTER YEAH!*

Re:Why do you discriminate against discriminators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052189)

Whoosh.

Re:Why do you discriminate against discriminators? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 8 months ago | (#46052013)

Discriminating against a physical trait is a lot different than discriminating against bad character.

Re:Why do you discriminate against discriminators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052289)

Discriminating against a personality trait is no different than discriminating against a physical trait.

IT"S NOT LOUD HOWARD'S FAULT HE'S LOUD.

Re:Why do you discriminate against discriminators? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46052483)

Him being a hypocrite doesn't invalidate the argument. It just shows that you are unable to refute the logic, and instead must attack the man offering it. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance.

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (0)

s.petry (762400) | about 8 months ago | (#46052149)

Imagine the "whale" being taken to Krispy Kream donuts for "free".. *sigh* Nothing to worry about here, and I'm assuming that TFA used that term due to it's multipurpose nature.

A little SQL-based lesson on demographics then (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052353)

What if they don't have the right purchase history or have a criminal history or simply just don't live in a part of town being marketed to? Keep the race card in your pocket, there are million s of reasons why someone is either excluded or included in any given class.

we really DO NOT need::
select * from eligible where income > 80000 and race in ('WHITE','ASIAN');

when all we need is

select * from eligible where income > 80000 and criminal_history = 'FALSE' and zipcode in ('94539','94540','94541' ... );

and then you would still be surprised how many people come up when you do a:

select count(*) from eligible where income 80000 and criminal_history='FALSE' and race in ('AFRICAN','HISPANIC');

Age discrimination (1, Informative)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about 8 months ago | (#46052363)

I'm pretty sure that at least in the U.S., deciding whether to give people a special offer based on their age is illegal. It's called age discrimination.

Re:Age discrimination (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 8 months ago | (#46053161)

Uhh, how do you explain senior discounts? Or the AARP? Heck, how about Social Security and Medicare?

If there's a law against giving special offers based on a person's age, they're certainly doing a shit job enforcing it.

Re:Age discrimination (1)

Xeno man (1614779) | about 8 months ago | (#46053193)

Age discrimination is legal for many instances. We discriminate based on age for when you can get a drivers license, when you can consume alcohol, when you can vote and when you can have sex. Many places offer senior discounts that the young are not eligible for and if I was selling an adult product, I want to be damn sure that only adults will see my offers.

Re:Age discrimination (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 8 months ago | (#46053269)

All youngsters under 21 applaud your willingness to serve them alcohol. Doing otherwise would be age discrimination.

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052807)

and how is this different from this SQL query

SELECT customer.email
FROM business join customer on (customer.location near location.address)
WHERE expected_value(customer, business) > business.min_value_threshold

and since when are SQL queries patentable?

This patent is another example of why the patent system is broken. Makes you wonder where the patent examiner lived in the last decade. Ideas like this are abundant and most importantly *obvious* to *any* engineer in the field, not just the proverbial *expert* that is referred to by the patent law.

crazy world

Re:Discriminate by age and other characteristics (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46052939)

um... this isn't the pick & save... this is the jail... hey car... CAR! Get back here!

... on a computer. (5, Insightful)

bob_super (3391281) | about 8 months ago | (#46051711)

Once again, let me look around for something people have been doing and go to patent it "on a server" "based on online behavior" or "using a smartphone"

I can't blame them for abusing the system, I can only blame the idiots who won't fix the system.

Re:... on a computer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051975)

Once again, let me look around for something people have been doing and go to patent it "on a server" "based on online behavior" or "using a smartphone"

I can't blame them for abusing the system, I can only blame the idiots who won't fix the system.

Just like I can't blame you if you'd really rather just watch two gay men kiss each other and suck each other's cocks.

Shopping whales? Damn you! (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46051713)

Now I can't get http://www.peopleofwalmart.com... [peopleofwalmart.com] out of my brain.

But who will keep the cars clean? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051735)

When I ride in my own, non-self-driving car, I don't have time to defecate on the seat. I am driving, after all. Nor do I want to clean up the mess afterward.

But if some company sends out a self-driving car to pick me up to go shopping, what exactly prevents me from just leaving a big, steaming turd on the back seat? I won't have anything better to do. And it's not my car, so I won't have to clean it up.

This could become a really big problem, if a lot of people do it. I wouldn't want to ride in one of these cars again if I got in only to find a huge chunk of shit sitting on the seat!

Maybe they could make the cars self-cleaning, too? But I just don't know where they'd deposit any feces that are found. Would it just be dropped onto the road? I would hope not, because that would just bring us back to Victorian London, where the horses pulling carriages left their doody all over the street.

These are some big engineering challenges, without a doubt.

Re:But who will keep the cars clean? (1)

neminem (561346) | about 8 months ago | (#46051817)

What prevents you from going up to a hotel, going in their elevator, waiting until you were alone, and taking a dump in their elevator? What prevents you from going up to a bank, signing up for a vault box, waiting until you were alone, and then taking a dump in the vault box room? I'm sure you could imagine any number of other semi-private locations owned by private entities other than yourself that you could imagine people taking dumps in, and the answer is the same for all of them: the fact that they probably have security cameras, and they wouldn't hesitate to track you down and make you pay for cleanup (well, that and in the majority of cases of people who are neither hobos nor psychopaths, they wouldn't even think of doing anything that absurd in the first place... but for the benefit of hobos and psychopaths, the above.)

Presumably such hypothetical cars would have security. Probably less for the benefit of warding off poo-leavers, and more for the benefit of warding off, you know, hot-wirers looking for free cars. But it would apply equally for both.

Re:But who will keep the cars clean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052021)

What prevents you from going up to a hotel, going in their elevator, waiting until you were alone, and taking a dump in their elevator?

I think that's EXACTLY what the GP is talking about. There is absolutely NOTHING stopping people from shitting in elevators. There is absolutely nothing stopping people from doing stuff like that! That's why it isn't unusual to find turds in elevators. I know I run across at least three or four a week. Usually one at my condo complex, one in the office building I work in, and one or two in elevators at malls or other buildings. It's disgusting, but it's a common part of life.

If it can, and does, happen in elevators, then it will surely happen in self-driving cars. People spend only a few minute in elevators, but that's more than enough time to defecate. If somebody is sitting in a self driving car, maybe for 30 or 40 minutes, then there's more than enough opportunity to shit all over the seat and the floor. Some could even get smeared on the ceiling and the doors.

I don't think that cameras will be enough, to be honest. Those are already present in elevators, yet every other day I see shit nuggets in elevators. If cameras don't stop shits from appearing in easily accessible and heavily monitored places like elevators, they won't stop people from shitting in self driving cars.

Re:But who will keep the cars clean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052243)

Won't someone stop these shitters before they shit again?! Don't let them blame it on the dog next time.

Re:But who will keep the cars clean? (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 8 months ago | (#46052889)

Not to mention the pervasive turds in those automated trams at airports. Won't someone think of the children?

Seriously though, why is this meme so pervasive? The exact same thing came up when Personal Rapid Transit was proposed. It was all over the place. There were even YouTube videos of badly animated homeless people puking in PRT capsules.

I can only conclude there is some segment of the population that somehow knows how to use a computer while simultaneously failing to be toilet trained. I know our culture encourages permanent childishness, but permanent babies? It's ridiculous.

Re:But who will keep the cars clean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052033)

They will know who rode in the vehicle. The vehicle can self inspect internally with cameras before you got in and after you got out. If you leave a big turd then you get a cleaning bill. You'll agree to this before you take the ride.

Re:But who will keep the cars clean? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 8 months ago | (#46053131)

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a condominium complex in, I think it was, Texas that decided to go after dog owners who didn't clean up after their dogs. So they genetically sequence each dog, and each turd that is left. And then they send the bill to the owner of the dog.

Perhaps you had better reconsider your planned activities.

The Economics of self driving cars (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051737)

That's a really cool thought experiment. Frankly I've always thought the rise of self driving cars would just make a world of taxis. You call a car on your "smart device" get in, it takes you wherever, you get off and it goes on to its next customer. Should be ultra, fantastically cheap and efficient, and you just make the interior able to be power hosed down every four hours. Or maybe a nicer automated cleaning for the "better" services.

I wonder if gas stations will disappear because of that. After all why have your own car when hopping in an auto taxi will be just as fast, and involve no insurance, maintenance, or anything else that comes with a car, thus making it cheaper too? Meanwhile the auto taxis fill up back at "base", whether that's electric or gas or whatever.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 8 months ago | (#46051831)

And when there's an auto accident it makes the national news. That sounds pretty good to me.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (1)

taustin (171655) | about 8 months ago | (#46051983)

What'll really make the news is the legal fight over liability. Car manufacturer blames manufacturer who made the self-driving system. Manufacturer blames the software company who wrote the software, or the manufacturer of the subsystem that failed. Software company/subcontractor blames "hackers," government blames "terrorists," and in the end, the guy with the least amount of money for lawyers gets the bill - and that'd the be the passenger.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (1)

profplump (309017) | about 8 months ago | (#46052355)

Exactly. Just like we hold airline passengers responsible for crashes.

Wait, I forgot that we're all pretending there's no analogy for liability and accident investigation for automated vehicles. Because planes are still controlled by WWII vets yanking on cables.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (5, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | about 8 months ago | (#46051957)

What you describe is not much different than taxis today. And yet, in most places, everybody has their own car. Self-driving cars are cheaper, sure, by the cost of a taxi driver, but that's not that big a savings, really. The reason people don't rely on taxis now is that you don't "call a car on your "smart device" get in, it takes you wherever." It's "call a car on your "smart device," wait until it arrives get in, it takes you wherever". That missing part is the big one. Particularly if the self-driving taxi service is for-profit, giving a considerable incentive to minimize costs (which is to say, number of vehicles - keep every one of them working 100% of the time). It will not be just as fast. Hell, today, you can book a taxi days in advance, and you can't count on them being there on time.

As for cleaning, would you really want to ride any distance in a car that can be "power hosed down"? I'd rather have something a little more comfortable.

And for everything you don't need - insurance, maintenance, etc., you have an increase in cost in the taxi service, because those things still have to be done.

So your high tech utopia is, instead of jumping in your jalopy and going where you want to go immediately, will be call for the taxi, wait for it to arrive, pay fares at least as high as a taxi now, and probably have to pay extra to keep from having to share it with someone else going the same direction.

No thanks.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (2)

jrumney (197329) | about 8 months ago | (#46052389)

When more people use taxis, it will make more sense to provide more of them, so there is more chance that one is nearby when you want it. At peak times it makes more sense to use buses (where trains are not available).

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (2)

Copid (137416) | about 8 months ago | (#46052397)

Self-driving cars are cheaper, sure, by the cost of a taxi driver, but that's not that big a savings, really.

I think you may be underestimating the impact of a human driver on the cost of a taxi. Let's conservatively say the taxi gets 20mpg and pays $4 per gallon for gas. If it averages 30mph (very aggressive, given it's mostly city driving with a lot of idle time), it's burning $6 in gas per hour and at, say, $0.55 per mile in wear and tear, you have about $22.50 per hour in marginal costs from the car. Even if the car costs $100,000 and only lasts 100,000 miles, that's another $30 an hour, totalling $52.50 per hour. Adding enough dollars hourly to keep a human alive is a pretty non-negligible addition to that number.

I suspect that a ridiculously huge part of the cost you pay for a taxi is the cost of the medallion in most places. Drop the medallion system and you'd see a surge in supply and a crash in prices, probably to the point where the driver is the next biggest expense.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052433)

When parked in town I am rarely closer to my car than I am to a taxi -- parking takes a non-trivial amount of time (and space, and direct expense) in many places, and taxies are often at least as fast (and more convenient). If they were cheaper I would *never* use my car for intra-city travel. That's not true everywhere, but it's also not only true in Manhattan.

And it's currently fantastically expensive to idle a taxi -- drivers make that problem worse not better.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 months ago | (#46051997)

I'm just leaving the Bay Area, and most of my US-based friends use an app that you give a destination to, it automatically knows your location from GPS, calls a taxi, takes you to the destination, your phones both agree on the distance, and the charge is taken from your account. It's very smooth and convenient (and removes that awkward thing in the US of working out how much you're meant to tip the taxi driver, one of the tipping situations that appears to make no sense because having someone drive you is the service you are paying for). Add in self-driving cars and you remove the cost of the driver. The ancillary infrastructure is there already, waiting for the self-driving cars...

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052063)

What is the name of the app?

Uber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052571)

is the main one, but you are not summoning a taxi. Uber is a service that connects drivers, who are almost universally private contractors who own their own vehicle, to people looking for a ride. Uber handles the billing, etc. etc. It's fantastic. I use it all the time in NYC when I'm up here, and in Baltimore sometimes, even though I have my own car there. And I've definitely thought that the combination of an Uber-like service plus self-driving cars will have a massive impact on transportation as we know it, especially in urban areas, which by the way, the majority of humanity lives in these days.

The science fiction novel Halting State by Charles Stross is probably one of the best visions of what this will look like. If you haven't read Charles Stross' stuff, read Halting State and then Rule 34, and you WILL be well-equipped to live in the world of 5-10 years from now.

Re:The Economics of self driving cars (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#46052803)

That's a really cool thought experiment. Frankly I've always thought the rise of self driving cars would just make a world of taxis. You call a car on your "smart device" get in, it takes you wherever, you get off and it goes on to its next customer. Should be ultra, fantastically cheap and efficient, and you just make the interior able to be power hosed down every four hours. Or maybe a nicer automated cleaning for the "better" services.

I highly doubt self driving cars will become like taxi's. Definitely not in the short term because people will still own their own self driving car and organising a municipal fleet is expensive and fraught with bureaucracy (especially if it's done by the private sector, the politics of it will be even worse than city/state politics). Maybe in the long term but it would require a significant shift in the way we think about transportation in our society or for individual cars to become so expensive that owning one is something only the rich can afford.

Automated taxis will operate like traditional taxi's except that the driver will speak English and smell slightly better. So people will still want to own their own cars as they don't want to wait 45 minutes for a peak period taxi. There will still be long waits because you have a majority of the city wanting to move at the same time and a limited number of taxis. On this subject, automated cars are not a magic bullet for traffic congestion because it doesn't actually remove cars from the road.

Should? (4, Funny)

Tailhook (98486) | about 8 months ago | (#46051829)

Should self-driving cars chauffeur shopping 'whales' for free? Well I don't know if they should. However, I am absolutely certain they will. Unless some topples the powers-that-be, discards the Constitution and imposes the necessary rules to prevent it, that is.

When a whale car shows up it "should" have a piping hot meal ready for consumption as well. Also, as the whale car proceeds to and from the mall it "should" be careful to avoid blighted neighborhoods to prevent any whale discouragement or whale hunting.

Now the only question is; "should" the whale car meal include alcohol? Or perhaps marijuana, if it's a Colorado whale car?

So, who wants to fund my new startup; Waylz, Inc.? Our e-business analyzes neighborhood disposition based on property values and crime rates to compute optimal routes; neighborhood navigation for retailers.

Re:Should? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052025)

Who cares about property values? I'm going to buy the biggest self-driving car and live in that. A mobile home at it's finest. It'll drive me to the nearest national park while I cook dinner (portable hot plate) and I'll have all the space I need to sit back and relax outdoors. I'll fall asleep with the roof or window down and in the middle of the night the car will drive me back to work and I'll wake up right where I need to be. I'll order a lot of supplies online and Amazon can drop them directly into my car while it speeds along the highway going to pickup my pre-ordered set of groceries. It'll be back by the time I get out of week and most of my errand will have been completed automatically.

Maybe I'll join a gang of self-driving car livers and we'll give the motorcycle gangs a run for their money. Fully automatic transportation systems will change our society in yet undiscovered ways.

Re:Should? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052057)

Should self-driving cars chauffeur shopping 'whales' for free?

Let's stop acting like this is some radical new social experiment and ask the question properly.
"Should a private company offer complimentary service X for patrons who spend more than Y?"

Uh, sure? Why not? The stores already like to send special promotions to the "whales", if they wanted they could offer them a free taxi ride to the store right now. Hell, maybe some of them do already.

Dear Timothy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051839)

Please aim for clearer article headings, especially when one of the words is a term with multiple meanings. I thought this was going to be about Google driving fat people around for free.

Re:Dear Timothy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051979)

Indeed. For those wondering: "Whales" = "Big Spenders".

Re:Dear Timothy... (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 8 months ago | (#46051989)

This is.

Slashdot - Dice assholes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052119)

This - two.

Slashdot is SHIT.

The only reason why I come back is because I'm an out of work pathetic loser.

Got that Dice assholes? I AM A PATHETIC out of work ASSHOLE and I am YOUR website client!

Fuckers.

Re:Slashdot - Dice assholes (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 8 months ago | (#46052169)

But you didn't bother to go to Dice and look for a job?

Re:Slashdot - Dice assholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053129)

Now I see why Dice bought Slashdot. Before I'd assumed they were looking for employed professionals to switch jobs.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052583)

internet comment of the day, thanks for the chuckle :)

So long as they stay off the roads (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#46051887)

The second one of these hits and kills a kid, it's lawsuit city, baby.

Re:So long as they stay off the roads (1)

Copid (137416) | about 8 months ago | (#46052405)

A lawsuit over an automobile hitting a kid? I don't want to live in a world where that could happen.

Re:So long as they stay off the roads (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#46052565)

I think you meant to say "I don't want to live in a world where a robot car murdering a kid would not result in a massive lawsuit".

Fixed it for you.

Re:So long as they stay off the roads (1)

Copid (137416) | about 8 months ago | (#46053021)

What I meant to say was, "There are already massive lawsuits whenever a kid is killed in a car accident."

The major difference is that with computer-driven cars, it should happen a lot less. At least, unless we decide that a computer-driven car killing a kid is so much worse than a human doing it that the payouts should go up 10x.

Re:So long as they stay off the roads (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#46053107)

I see you have failed to install the Human Reaction Chip.

Would you like assistance with that?

(people react even more harshly to robots killing kids than to humans killing kids while driving)

Re:So long as they stay off the roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052411)

You mean, just like when a person does it?

God I hate our patent system. (4, Insightful)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 8 months ago | (#46051903)

Instead of rewarding people for innovating, we incentivize people/companies to patent trivially simple ideas to lock their potential competitors out of new markets and actually stifle innovation.

Patents are supposed to drive people to come up with ideas that would be cost prohibitive if they were not given some kind of incentive like a temporary government enforced monopoly. Giving out these monopolies in exchange for for such obvious ideas (i,.e. they would be invented regardless) is a shitty deal for society.

Re:God I hate our patent system. (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | about 8 months ago | (#46052167)

Patents are supposed to drive people to come up with ideas that would be cost prohibitive if they were not given some kind of incentive like a temporary government enforced monopoly.

Patents *were* supposed to do that. There have been a bunch of amendments since, and now their sole purpose is to make a lot of money for big companies. Which is arguably good for the economy of countries that have a lot of big entrenched companies, and bad for the economy of the rest of the world.

Giving out these monopolies in exchange for for such obvious ideas (i,.e. they would be invented regardless) is a shitty deal for society.

I agree 100%.

Re:God I hate our patent system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052327)

That's because back when this country was founded, you couldn't just add "on a computer" or "on the internet" to a well known process and expect protection from competition backed up by barely educated thugs with guns.

automated transportation is "un-American" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46051913)

This is a good example of how managed automated transportation can (and therefore, will) worsen the lives of most people.

Imagine highways of self-driving cars with centrally managed flow. Naturally, certain services will get priority and receive expedited management (eg EMS). Folded into that mix will be the non-essential (to the public) prioritization (eg Chris Christie's 100 yard limo ride).

Pretty soon it will be pay-to-play, where those with resources get where they're going and the poor stand in lines. Think about airports today, only worse. And thats not even taking into account the inevitable security state. (TSA "random" stops on the freeway, anyone?)

And thus, the US of A will move further and faster from a meritocracy to some dark age of economic feudalism

Re:automated transportation is "un-American" (2)

profplump (309017) | about 8 months ago | (#46052495)

A) We already have that in many places. For example, toll roads and pay-to-use-carpool-lane systems. Such things have existed for a long time. You might not think they're a good idea, but they're hardly a new trend.

B) You're assuming it's not possible to build "enough" infrastructure to provide basic transportation so travel will be impractical without excessive usage fees. That doesn't reflect the status quo, and it's not clear why changing the way vehicles are piloted would reduce the amount of road infrastructure we can afford for public, free usage.

C) If you can trust cars to do what they are told (or what they collectively agree to do) you need way less infrastructure for the same amount of traffic. For example, there's no reason to have directional lanes or traffic lights. So even without building anything new traffic would be expected to decrease in the system you describe, at least until the growth in number of vehicles in use catches back up.

Re:automated transportation is "un-American" (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#46052517)

Huh? The poor stand around waiting for busses already. Many drive junkers

So they wait for busses in the future, or drive a junker with a robot brain.

The kind of offer managemet described ... (1)

quax (19371) | about 8 months ago | (#46051977)

... in the summary ...

"Google also describes how advertisers will be able to use a customer's profile 'to exclude a customer from being considered for an offer based on exclusion criteria identified by a business,' such as age, job title, purchasing history, clothing size, or other 'desirable' characteristics."

... is about as old as business IT. So now it includes a tiered offer for a transportation discount. The only new aspect is the self driven car, may as well give a gas discount to the customers who prefer to drive themselves.

Kick that gay-ass orange juice to the curb... (1)

o_ferguson (836655) | about 8 months ago | (#46052027)

...and MAN UP to WHALE CANCER!

Nest tie in (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | about 8 months ago | (#46052135)

Google also describes how advertisers will be able to use a customer's profile 'to exclude a customer from being considered for an offer based on exclusion criteria identified by a business,' such as age, job title, purchasing history, clothing size, or other 'desirable' characteristics.

For example, if you're at home when a football game is on, then obviously you're a fan of the sport.

No thanks, I won't be buying anything off Nest.

Re:Nest tie in (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#46052463)

Yes, because that's really working out well for Abercrombie & Fitch.

Blech.

Why? (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#46052237)

So it's basically a concierge, which has existed for thousands of years?

Good job, patent office.

Ah, Google being evil again (2)

kcwhitta (232438) | about 8 months ago | (#46052269)

I'm sure this has already been said, but Google's positive index on the evil scale seems to be higher (or lower). Once again, they seem to be bordering on true neutral from a D&D sense; I guess that's not too bad considering they are a huge public corporation (that I don't think I'll work for any time soon). ~ Keenan

What a seriously stupid question. (2)

new death barbie (240326) | about 8 months ago | (#46052529)

"Should Self-Driving Cars Chauffeur Shopping 'Whales' For Free?"

It's a just PATENT APPLICATION, for criminy's sake. They're not asking for anybody's permission. It's not going to come up for a vote on Slashdot. Nothing like a rabble-rousing headline to get those hits up.

Why SHOULDN'T merchants be allowed to underwrite the use of a self-driving car? Why shouldn't a high-end merchant offer to pay for the taxi of (or send their own car for) a big-spending customer today (would that be prior art)? Some do. It's their call.

It's not like there are no other taxis for the rest of us, and it's not like if there are SOME self-driving cars out there, underwritten by merchants, there won't be others out there for the rest of us, if we're willing to pay.

Deliveries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052739)

How about they just deliver people their crap for a nominal fee?

Walleeeeee (1)

nomasteryoda (801608) | about 8 months ago | (#46052775)

At first read, I thought this meant whale mover cars, you know... Like those rolling through the local Buy-N-Large ... We're all about discontinued use of the metacarpals.

Vehicle Malware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46052777)

I'm calling it. Someday the black market will sell malware for cars. Cars will crash. Manufacturers will downplay the risks.

Prior Art (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46052901)

a system that arranges for free or discounted transportation to an advertiser's business location that will be more or less convenient based upon how profitable a customer is deemed.

Strip clubs in Vegas and brothels in Nevada already give you free rides to their respective places of business.

I'm pretty sure they also are more or less convenient, based on where they will be picking you up from...

I'll do you one better (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46052953)

Why the hell would I want a free ride to walmart? Why can't I sit on my ass in my house, click on all the crap I want and have the car show up with it a few minutes later? Now the car doesn't even need seats.

Finally, the rich get a break. (1)

Delusion_ (56114) | about 8 months ago | (#46052959)

I'm reminded of the mortgage company where I worked where loan officers pulling in monthly commissions of $10,000 a month and higher were "incentivized" by awarding the top sales every month perks like a $500 gift certificate for a golf shop, and the people who did the most work (hourly and salary employees) were incentivized by the knowledge that, if the owner ever needed to make a payment on his BMW SLK and his finances were tight, the money the company and owners saved from firing any of those employees would be more than enough to offset the burden.

This happened more than once.

Fuck Google for doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053089)

This is completely obvious and they're nowhere near making it work. All they've done is combine the self-driving car with a business model that's already in practice. The fact that this was granted shows what's wrong with the patent system. Remember this next time Google complains about patent trolling against Android. They're just as bad as anyone else.

In Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46053367)

Net Neutrality is analogy for cars!

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