Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Blames a Human for Its Robot Car Accident

Yes, one of Google’s self-driving cars got into an accident this week. But Google says you can’t blame this one on its technology. It says its Prius was under the control of an old-fashioned flesh-and-blood driver when it got too close to someone else’s Prius.

Statement from a Google spokesperson: “Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car.”

The same Google spokesperson also wants us to know that Google’s self-driving cars have logged “160,000 miles autonomously without incident.”

Here’s the photo of what doesn’t appear to be a very serious incident, via Jalopnik:

Glad no one appears hurt, but this is a good reminder of one of the main reasons Google’s experiment with robot cars both fascinates us and creeps us out. As Marc Andreessen says, there are lots and lots and lots of people who shouldn’t be driving cars. But handing complete control of a car over to a computer can still strike you as an awfully big leap.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik