Home > Uncategorized > Four things I wanted to tell you this morning

Four things I wanted to tell you this morning

April 4, 2016

1. Manpons:

The only thing missing from this ad is something analogous to the “And now it has 5 blades. Because you couldn’t possibly do with only 4 blades” one-upmanship of the men’s razor industry.

2. I am going to this:


The full name of the conference is The Color of Surveillance: Georgetown Law Conference to Explore Racial Bias of Government Monitoring, and I’m looking forward to it. Anyone worried about the dystopian future of government surveillance should learn about what’s happening right now to poor minority neighborhoods.

3. I’m not going to this:


Here’s a ridiculous quote from this conference which, typically, conflates what millennials “like” with what they’ve had to put up with because they were born into a world of enormous student debt and terrible job security (h/t Ernie Davis):

Game technologies are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace since they appeal to the millennial generation who have grown up playing video and computer games together with using mobile devices. But this is much more than fun! Serious games can generate up to millions of data points that can then be fed into machine-learning algorithms to help employers make smart HR decisions to win the war for talent.

4. I’m Worried About Self-driving Cars

Because won’t it encourage enormously wasteful use of cars? If I can go to sleep while I’m in my car and it’s driving to Lexington, Virginia, what will stop me from visiting my buddy Aaron every weekend?

And for that matter, why even be in the car while it’s going somewhere? I can send my car to do errands I don’t want to do, or deliver packages I don’t want to bother sending from the post office.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Dylan Thurston
    April 4, 2016 at 7:52 am

    That’s a hillarious ad.

    There’s been a fair bit of research on your question of whether self-driving cars reduce emissions. Here’s one bit of reporting: http://www.vox.com/2016/2/27/11121416/study-fully-automating-self-driving-cars-worse


  2. DJ
    April 4, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Eventually, self-driving cars will improve things:

    1. The utilization rate of privately owner cars right now is abysmal. I use my car way less than 5% of the time. The rest of the time it’s parked. A self-driving car becomes economical to utilize at near 100%. Of course it wouldn’t be privately owned in that case.

    2. A car being sent on an errand doesn’t need to be large enough to hold a person. Now, if it’s a gasoline car, there’s no savings involve — the engine is larger than the person. But an electric car changes things. Electric cars can be as small as you like.

    3. Once we have small electric cars, the cost of electricity isn’t really that large compared to the cost of gasoline. So even a large amount of wasted or unnecessary errands represents an improvement over the current situation.


    • April 4, 2016 at 8:04 am

      That doesn’t explain what will keep me from going to Virginia every weekend. Commuting times and distances will no doubt expand as we are more able to work and sleep comfortably in our cars as they drive us places.


      • Aaron
        April 4, 2016 at 8:11 am

        Why are you so bent on not coming to Virginia every weekend???


      • DJ
        April 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

        I think you’re overestimating future usage. We already have self-driving trains, and yet we don’t have the problem of people riding the train to Virginia every weekend.


        • April 4, 2016 at 7:31 pm

          I guess the hassles of the train to Virginia include that it only goes when timetabled, and you have to get yourself to the station first. By comparison, driverless cars are meant to combine the convenience of being available whenever you want from your front door with the benefits of not having to drive yourself, such as sleeping through the trip or being able to travel whilst intoxicated. (I mention this last as drink driving laws are often cited as a cause of reduced average alcohol consumption, which could plausibly reverse with the introduction of driverless cars, possibly leading to more deaths by liver cancer)


      • DJ
        April 17, 2016 at 3:55 am

        The optimistic view: http://zackkanter.com/2015/01/23/how-ubers-autonomous-cars-will-destroy-10-million-jobs-by-2025/

        “A Columbia University study suggested that with a fleet of just 9,000 autonomous cars, Uber could replace every taxi cab in New York City – passengers would wait an average of 36 seconds for a ride that costs about $0.50 per mile.”

        “PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced by 99%, estimating that the fleet will fall from 245 million to just 2.4 million vehicles.”

        “Driverless cars do not need to park – vehicles cruising the street looking for parking spots account for an astounding 30% of city traffic, not to mention that eliminating curbside parking adds two extra lanes of capacity to many city streets.”


  3. Peter
    April 4, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I struggle to understand what is a “data point” referenced in the Game Technologies conference.


  4. April 4, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    In case you missed it:
    Bottom line: the driverless car won’t be happening in our country any time soon…


  5. April 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    If you’re not completely dazzled by the promise of self-driving cars, you may find this interesting/ useful:


    Seems to be fairly balanced on the pros/ cons.


  6. April 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    It’s really hard to predict this, because the self-driving car has a lot of far reaching effects on the economy which are going to completely alter people’s life habits.

    For example, I would guess the self-driving car makes the ordinary supermarket/Walmart/CostCo obsolete, and we’ll all buy almost all of our stuff online once the self-driving delivery truck and semi-automated warehouse drop the cost of physical selection and delivery below the cost of running a physical, customer accessible store. (There’ll still be higher-end stores charging a premium for people who really want to feel their lettuce or their lingerie before buying.) Presumably the delivery service can optimize and make several deliveries on the same trip, but this might be offset by more frequent use of the service (but that means smaller refrigerators, and that has effects on ….)

    With enough automation, we get much more efficient use of the roads, since my refrigerator will order orange juice to be delivered at 3am when the cars with people in them aren’t on the roads.


  7. April 6, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Are you trolling with 4?

    It is much more likely it will enable much more efficient use of fuel and materials besides the sparing of lives and increased productivity. You also say “my car” which makes little sense in a driverless world.

    The demand for product X exists either way. Whether driverless cars exist or not. There is no difference whether you send your car to pick up product X or UPS delivers it to your door. It would probably be better for all involved for Amazon to send you a drone 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 6, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Not trolling. And yes, I agree about the drones delivering my X, unless X is me.


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