The Driverless Commute: Trump doesn’t like AVs. He’s not alone. So what does it mean for his administration?

1. Rage against the machine(s)

Ford Argo AI self-driving test car zooming through Washington D.C.

Donald Trump doesn’t use a computer. He doesn’t send or receive text messages or emails, preferring instead to annotate print-outs and have aides send scanned copies. He doesn’t carry a cell phone, but he sometimes consumes media on a tablet, which his handlers know as “the flat one.”

Sure, Trump may be living an analog life, but his administration isn’t.

Indeed, autonomous vehicles—at once the world’s most audacious and least-trusted form of artificial intelligence—have in Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao one of the technology’s most committed cheerleaders.

Just last week, Chao, whose practiced light-touch has allowed the technology to flourish, announced the creation of a new commission within DOT tasked with promoting emerging transportation tech like self-driving cars.

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The Driverless Commute, presented by Dentons: How programmer bias will be reflected in AI platforms; a case for public investment in AV access; and Waymo, GM & Ford top new AV leaderboard

1. When an engineer’s implicit bias becomes a computer’s

Autonomous Vehicle (AV) LIDAR sensor

Can the machine learning algorithms that underpin the operation of autonomous vehicles perpetuate—or worsen, even—social, structural biases against people of color?

Maybe, according to a new paper (PDF) from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where researchers tested the accuracy of object detection systems (not unlike those used in driverless cars) in positively identifying pedestrians of varying skin colors.

Researchers paid human test subjects to review a collection of 3,500 images of people of varying skin tones and to mark each photograph with “LS” or “DS” to designate light or dark skin of the subject.

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The Driverless Commute, presented by Dentons: When a race for the moon becomes a carpool: AV tie-ups signal retrenchment, sobering up

Welcome to the all new, web-only version of The Driverless Commute, which we launched in 2017 as one of the world’s first news and analysis verticals dedicated exclusively to autonomous vehicles.

We appreciate your continued readership as we evolve to better serve you, including the launch later this year of a monthly newsmaker podcast featuring self-driving policy makers, technologists and thought leaders.

1. Frenemies

German auto giants BMW and Daimler (the parent group of Mercedes Benz) said last Thursday they would pool their resources in the development of autonomous vehicles.

Partly a reflection of the difficulty engineering next-generation cars and partly a (long-overdue) admission that the industry isn’t as far along as the hype (and a few CEOS) have implied, this remarkable tie-up between once-bitter rivals comes as the industry sobers up to a spiraling bar tab.

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China to fast-track law-making in autonomous driving

(Ed. note: This article originally appeared in Compliance Review.)

On January 21st, 2019, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (“CPC”) Central Committee, President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech at the opening ceremony of the Central CPC Institute. In the speech he stressed the importance of improving capabilities of preventing and defusing major risks.

When talking about the important part of national security, like science and technology, Xi pointed out that China should pace up with launching of preemptive alerting and monitoring system for science and technology security.  Especially, he called on fast-tracking the law-making in artificial intelligence, gene editing, medical diagnosis, autonomous driving, unmanned aerial vehicles, service robots and other fields.

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