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Mon. Apr 22nd, 6pm - 7pm: Paul Mozur, New York Times journalist (More info...)

Options April 1, 2019: Sam Schwartz, aka "Gridlock Sam," on autonomous vehicles and "No One at the Wheel"

Listen to this show: MP3 - 128K | | Add or read comments

This week: Sam Schwartz, aka "Gridlock Sam," on autonomous vehicles and "No One at the Wheel"


Above by Meredith Whittaker.


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Thanks to everyone who supported WFMU and Techtonic during our recent fundraising marathon!

If you missed it, here's how to get the 2019 Techtonic T-shirt: Make a pledge at $10/month and click "1 DJ Premium" (as well as the "WFMU|Radio" T-shirt, the Japanese Funhouse T-shirt, and the bumper sticker!).

Then on the next page under Monday, click "Mark Hurst's Techtonic Anglerfish T-shirt" to get our T-shirt for 2019, shown below:



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Pointers to Sam Schwartz:

Sam Schwartz's bio (GridlockSam.com)

• Sam Schwartz on Twitter: @GridlockSam

No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future, by Sam Schwartz

What We Know About the Congestion Pricing Plan (NYT, March 26, 2019) ... see also Residents Question Details of Congestion Pricing As New Tolls Gain Steam in Albany (West Side Rag, March 28, 2019)

'Gridlock Sam' Touts Support For New York City's Proposed Congestion Pricing (WBUR's Here and Now, March 26, 2019)

Recent tech news:


Above, my take on Apple's recent announcement.


Prosecutors Don’t Plan to Charge Uber in Self-Driving Car’s Fatal Accident (NYT, March 5, 2019): "The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office, which reviewed the case, said in a letter dated Monday that there was 'no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation.'"

Pedestrian Deaths Reach Highest Level in Nearly 30 Years (WSJ, Feb 28, 2019): "Smartphones and the prevalence of SUVs are cited as possible reasons for the increase."

Pave Over the Subway? Cities Face Tough Bets on Driverless Cars (NYT, July 20, 2018): "As New York’s subway demands repairs, futurists have proposed paving over all that rail instead for underground highways."

Driverless cars aren’t safe or ready for the road: Robotics expert (CNBC, March 20, 2018): "Duke professor Mary Cummings... says the technology in autonomous vehicles is 'unquestionably unsafe' and 'deeply flawed.'"

Self-Driving Mercedes-Benzes Will Prioritize Occupant Safety over Pedestrians (Car and Driver, Oct 7, 2016): "The world’s oldest carmaker no longer sees the problem, similar to the question from 1967 known as the Trolley Problem, as unanswerable. Rather than tying itself into moral and ethical knots in a crisis, Mercedes-Benz simply intends to program its self-driving cars to save the people inside the car. Every time."

• (via Webhamster Henry) Optimus Ride will provide autonomous shuttles in Brooklyn Navy Yard

• Finally, how to change the volume in your new Apple Car...



Killer Robots Movie Night at WFMU - Friday, May 10 in Monty Hall. See you there!

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Check out techtonic.fm for recent Techtonic interviews and Little Slice of Tech Pie segments.

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Images Approx. start time
  Sam Schwartz, aka Gridlock Sam, on autonomous vehicles and his book "No One at the Wheel."
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options
Options
 
  Mark's intro  
Options
0:00:08 (MP3 | )
  Interview with Sam Schwartz  
Options
0:15:55 (MP3 | )
Gudrun Gut  Baby I Can Drive My Car   Options
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0:55:41 (MP3 | )

Listener comments!

Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:01pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark, Techril Fools!
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:02pm Phillippe Bastille:

Hi all.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:03pm brycepunk1:

Good evening Mark, everyone.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:03pm herb.nyc:

hola, in honor of Gridlock Sam, I borrowed my friend's metro card and used it to enter the subway, for free! she had used it on the bus first. booyakasha.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:03pm TDK60:

Hi Mark. Techril fools we are, ultradamno?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:03pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark! Can't beat a Techril Fools, Ultradamno.. ;)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:05pm Ike:

I like Gridlock Sam. For those who like to nerd out and read about the woes of the NYC subway in way too much detail, you should also check out the Second Ave. Sagas website: secondavenuesagas.com
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:05pm chris:

currently mixing another martini from the back seat of my self driving car. robots are great! hi, Mark and techcarnaughts.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:06pm Beast of Boonton:

Hello Mark!
People are already planning on having sex in autonomous cars. Beware upon entry folks!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:07pm Bas NL:

Killer Robots Movie Night.. O man.. teleport i need you.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:07pm melinda:

Hi everyone
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:08pm Ken From Hyde Park:

We can't be Techtodrivers anymore?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:08pm Bas NL:

April 1st fake news only..
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:09pm Sam:

Good one! But you should have started the show with that with no explanation, it would’ve been funnier.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:10pm dale:

i could get behind full size slot cars.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:11pm Sam:

“It’s ok to stop.” True for ALL tech.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:12pm Bas NL:

Driving under the influence of 4 AA batteries..
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:12pm hendrix wolfbat:

That completely sucks. Did Uber pay off that city or something?
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:13pm Haiku Henry:

Hi Mark. Always great to catch your show!
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:13pm mr_donutsu:

Seems the same for any car-pedestrian/cyclist death. Rarely is anyone ever charged it seems.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:14pm Sam:

People drive these huge ass monstrosities that will absolutely kill you if they hit you at an speed. You no longer go up on the hood, you get slammed into the road and probably run over.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:14pm TDK60:

I'm sorry but the idea that folks think they can walk down the sidewalk or even drive and not pay attention is just selfish bullshit, plain and simple.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:14pm herb.nyc:

it's terrible about the rise in pedestrian deaths. but I'd like to see data about pedestrians NOT killed. it's gotta be a rise as well.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:14pm Sam:

Also more people are walking, and walking distracted.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:15pm John from Florham Park:

I don’t think I would ever be a in a self driving car
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:16pm dale:

cow catchers on the front of SUVs may be worth exploring.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:16pm Dave from Brooklyn:

Citizens United,according to our Supreme Court, has ruled corporations are like humans,and,therefore have a right to vote. Based on that,Uber should,along with other involved"humans"should be jailed for vehicular manslaughter.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:16pm Sam:

Right because the Holland tunnel works SO well...
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:17pm John from Florham Park:

@TDK60 I agree with you bravo, I admit I walk listening to this station or an audio book but I do pay attention to what I walk near
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:19pm John from Florham Park:

@Sam the Holland tunnel is a screwed up place which I never go near
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:19pm Sean d:

Control my brain leave my car alone!
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:19pm ultradamno:

I remember when initial reports of the segway scooter came out there was a statement that cities would have to be redesigned to accommodate them. Why does it always seem the priority is to create tech everyone has to adapt to rather being made to meet people's needs?
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:19pm Sam:

The real future is banning cars from manhattan completely. Congestion pricing is the first step. The next step will be massive investment in the subway and a gradual phasing out of cars. Imagine Manhattan with no cars, what a paradise it would be. Just walking down the middle of 6th ave...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:19pm Ken From Hyde Park:

You'll probably get plenty bored in a self-driving car. Solution: not unlike the Punch Buggy game, you push a button every time you see another electric car, like in The Simpsons. youtu.be...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:19pm Mark Hurst:

Hi everyone! Thanks for chatting this evening.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:20pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...anything that uses more fossil fuel seems a clear net positive to me...
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:20pm John from Florham Park:

@Sam that will never happen as much as we want it too
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:20pm Mark Hurst:

@ultradamno - I agree with Bas, "Techril Fools" wins the name tonight
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:21pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

My computer NEVER crashes
...why should my computer car...
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:21pm melinda:

I’ve heard intelligent grown adults say in reference to texting while driving “we’ve all done it at some point” and it makes me nuts. No we haven’t all done it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:21pm Mark Hurst:

Hi also to Phillippe, Bryce, herb, TDK, Ike, Chris, Beast, Melinda, Ken, Sam, Dale, Hendrix, Haiku Henry (thx!), Mr Donutsu, John, Dave, anyone else I left out!
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:21pm Dave from Brooklyn:

@TDK60 yes,you're right! Damn pedestrians not watching for runaway self driving cars.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:22pm Mark Hurst:

And Sean & R.Rabbit!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:22pm Bas NL:

(Let's not mention Boeing tonight.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:22pm Fox:

Driverless cars are the wrong answer, and yes, we need more public transport.

However, the generation that has been raised on mobile devices are addicted to their phones, and I honestly fear the notion of what will happen when everyone who is now in their early 20's and younger being behind the wheel. They lack the concentration to simply drive due to their inundation of constant digital distraction. Driverless cars might be better than relying on the short attention span generation.

Case in point: www.instagram.com...

(apologies for linking IG on your show)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:22pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Hows about a big train & a bus that can't crash into itself or get stuck in traffic w/ itself? Much as possible? Just blueskying here...
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:23pm John from Florham Park:

@melinda a lot of towns in jersey are cracking down on texting mine included,with that being said I don’t text hell I don’t even answer the phone until I stop
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:24pm Sam:

What if you just want to cruise around for a scenic Sunday drive? Is that no longer possible?
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:25pm dale:

manhattan has to stop building housing way up in the sky. there are too many people for the infrastructure to accommodate. congestion pricing is just a money grab.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:25pm Mark Hurst:

Bas - good point on Boeing. What a mess. For more good thinking on the perils of automation, take a look at the book "The Glass Cage" by Nicholas Carr.

Fox - you're onto something. Big Tech companies will surely make that case, that drivers are too distracted to safely have any agency. So therefore we should hand the keys over to Big Tech.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:25pm Sam:

One person could stand in the street and completely stop traffic for hours. I can’t wait.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:25pm John from Florham Park:

@sam I do some Sunday driveling nit much and maybe to the local library
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:26pm Ken From Hyde Park:

@Sam - You can just put on your VR goggles and feel like you're driving around.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:26pm John from Florham Park:

@sam do not want to be that person
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:27pm Mark Hurst:

FWIW I'm in favor of congestion pricing and think Sam Schwartz is doing great work on it in NYC.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:27pm Dave from Brooklyn:

Going out for a Sunday drive. Brings me back to the days of""one for the road."
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:27pm Bas NL:

We have new legislation in The Netherlands by July 1st. People are no longer allowed to use electronic devices while riding a bike.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:28pm Phillippe Bastille:

What are car insurance companies and body shops going to do if wrecks are cut by 75%?
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:28pm ultradamno:

I think that unless the driver is completely without responsibility, and that can reasonably work, self-driving cars shouldn't be a thing because the temptation will be "I'm nodding off, just let the car take over"
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:29pm John from Florham Park:

@mark hurst just found that book at the library and put it on hold
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:29pm Mark Hurst:

@ultradamno, then what happens when the driver nods off, then there's a crisis moment, and the car says "hey wake up, I don't know how to handle this. Your steering wheel now!"
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:29pm Fox:

Mark Hurst - Is there any conceivable safe guard on devices so that the screens could be rendered unusable by hand when moving at a certain speed? Or would that be an invasion of privacy?
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:30pm dale:

with no congestion 'toll' on the west side highway or fdr imagine how much traffic will back up there as people avoid the other avenues.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:30pm Mark Hurst:

@Fox, I don't think Apple or Google would be OK putting in a kill switch for the car to control. They'd much rather convince us to just buy an autonomous vehicle, so we keep the screen ON.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:32pm Bas NL:

It's what happens to airline pilots.. nothing to do until the situation is in crisis and automation cuts out.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:32pm Mark Hurst:

@dale, certainly lots and lots of possible unintended side effects. Here's another one - if the cutoff is 60th street, what about congested street parking on 61st street. Good news is that Sam has been working on this issue for decades, studying other cities' congestion plans, so I'm sure has familiarity with the major issues.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:32pm Fox:

Fort Lee, NJ passed a law prohibiting texting while crossing the street, which, while I understand, seems like the wrong direction to go in.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:33pm ultradamno:

@Mark I know I wouldn't want to jolt awake to an alarm clock with a car to maneuver. Best to not assume you have a safety net, eat nuts and stay awake.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:34pm Beast of Boonton:

Mark -
Who wants to sit on the 'wet spot' when getting in an autonomous car?
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:34pm Sam:

I can’t believe anybody thinks these will work. How does it know if a jogger on the side of the road is actually a kid about to run into the street? Do you pass the person or slam on your brakes? What about animals? And rural roads usually have no markings whatsoever.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:35pm dale:

mark - yes. i just think the governor and mayor could care less about the ripple effect to the outer boroughs and neighborhoods. i still see it a s a money grab and the mta needs a serious overhaul first and foremost.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:35pm chresti:

Self driving cars might be useful for people that forgot how to drive
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:36pm Mark Hurst:

@Beast, I've heard that self-driving Ubers might very well have - sorry to be graphic - vomit on the passenger seat, as a certain percentage of passengers get motion-sick in autonomous vehicles. Sorry that I failed to ask Sam about this during the interview.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:36pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Can we just go straight to being the WALL-E people? blacksunmatrix.files.wordpress.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:37pm chresti:

eww- wet spot
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:37pm dale:

there are mta surcharges on electric bills and dmv registration and title fees in the outlying counties on people who will never use a subway or bus ever. taxation with no benefit to them.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:37pm GarryTheViking:

Oh, there it is. Would love to hear him get through a whole episode without mentioning some corporation trying to spy on us
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:37pm Mark Hurst:

@Dale, oh don't get me started on the governor & mayor and their track record with the Amazon deal. But I'm gonna cross fingers that w/Sam and others, they can be convinced to create an actually good deal for New Yorkers in the case of congestion pricing.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:38pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Carsickness? Technology to the rescue! www.topspeed.com...
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:39pm Sam:

Google could just decide they don’t want you going certain places, and the car won’t take you there. Goodbye freedom!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:39pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Talk of tech to sense if driver is dozing off / paying attention...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:39pm Mark Hurst:

@Garry, as soon as I find Big Tech initiatives that are *not* based on spying, I will be sure to mention the absence of surveillance! In other news, the ocean keeps showing that it's full of water, day after day...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:40pm Fox:

This entire issue makes me want to learn how to drive stick shift.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:40pm dale:

i lived in nyc for 20 years but don't anymore...i don't know why but that topic ticks me off.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:41pm carrots:

https://nypost.com/2019/04/01/why-ai-struggles-to-get-april-fools-day-humor/
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:41pm dale:

fox - get something with hill hold though. it's a lifesaver.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:43pm chresti:

Stick shift and hills can be nerve wracking
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:44pm Johnzon:

no more hijinx! say no to big tech tomfoolery! also skullduggery!
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:45pm Sam:

We need politicians who will straight up ban autonomous vehicles. Just make them illegal because they’re not safe.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:46pm Bas NL:

Loads of drivers can't be classified as people.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:46pm chresti:

My favorite (easiest) stick shift car was a vw bug
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:46pm queems:

this has been a fascinating discussion
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:47pm dale:

a lot of drivers don't have licenses either.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:47pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, queems! Appreciate you listening in.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:47pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

I need a machine driver to keep up w/ this Program!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:48pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

(It's a real Service.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:48pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Self-driving drone semis full of Amanzon orders barreling down the road. Yay, overnight delivery!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:49pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, R.Rabbit.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:49pm Johnzon:

people other than billionaires want to have a life of human flourishing?! ridiculous!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:50pm Fox:

@dale - "hill hold?"
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:50pm chresti:

Self driving cars need licenses
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:51pm dale:

fox - it helps prevent rolling backwards when you're stopped facing uphill.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:52pm queems:

keep dreamin boise
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:55pm Bas NL:

Human brains can't keep up with any speed above running speed.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:55pm Fox:

Another consideration with cars and the cost of them, especially with things like tolls and congestions pricing, is to take into account he disabled. The Disabled cannot always take public transport, and for them cars are the only way to properly get around.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:55pm Sam:

Exactly. There are more and more bike lanes and pedestrian zones. They aren’t taking that away from us anytime soon.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:56pm Haiku Henry:

Thanks for another great show, Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:56pm melinda:

We need to start pushing for election and campaign finance reform at local and state levels so that momentum will build for change at a national level. The Googles and Ubers must be reined in.
Avatar Mon. 4/1/19 6:56pm Phillippe Bastille:

Thanks Mark. Have a great evening everyone!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:56pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark and Sam!
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:57pm queems:

thanks mark!
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:57pm Sam:

I still don’t get how Uber is legal. It’s an unlicensed cab.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:57pm melinda:

I am freaked out but I appreciate the discussion.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:57pm chris:

thanks, Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:58pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Thanks, Mark. Don't be this guy! www.mirror.co.uk...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 6:58pm melinda:

This is hilarious.
  Mon. 4/1/19 6:59pm Sam:

Mark you are a hero for bringing all of this out in the open.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 7:00pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! Great chat tonight. Have a good week - really 2 weeks! Next show scheduled for Apr 15.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/1/19 7:01pm chresti:

Thanks Mark!
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