George Hotz Is Taking On Google And Tesla By Himself.
January 26, 2016 6:32 AM   Subscribe

 
After a couple miles, Hotz lets go of the wheel and pulls the trigger on the joystick, kicking the car into self-driving mode. He does this as we head into an S curve at 65 miles per hour. I say a silent prayer. Hotz shouts, “You got this, car! You got this!”

The car does, more or less, have it. It stays true around the first bend. Near the end of the second, the Acura suddenly veers near an SUV to the right; I think of my soon-to-be-fatherless children; the car corrects itself. Amazed, I ask Hotz what it felt like the first time he got the car to work.

“Dude,” he says, “the first time it worked was this morning.”


hahahahahaha oh man, I hope the lidar captured the intense traffic of emotions on the journo's face at that point
posted by FatherDagon at 6:42 AM on January 26, 2016 [22 favorites]


^ Testing this on public streets is fucking reckless.
posted by HighLife at 6:44 AM on January 26, 2016 [34 favorites]


“I live by morals, I don’t live by laws,” Hotz declared in the story. “Laws are something made by assholes.”

Well, that's comforting to hear in a technology genuis!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 AM on January 26, 2016 [25 favorites]


Yeah, on some level the part of me that likes the idea of mad inventors producing technology all by themselves which betters society kind of likes Hotz's behaviour, but the sane part of me recognises that his behaviour is incredibly dangerous, and puts not only his and the journalist's life at risk, but the lives of whomever he might bump into.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:47 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


There has to be some sort of regulation against this. I don't want to see him in jail, but make him teach seniors about anti-virus software or something.
posted by HighLife at 6:49 AM on January 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


“I live by morals, I don’t live by laws,” Hotz declared in the story. “Laws are something made by assholes.”

And assholes often have terrible, if any, morals.

So, there's a lot of talk about self-driving cars as independent vehicles, assessing and understanding the complex and chaotic world around them. But there's also connected vehicle technology, cars that speak to other cars, and even infrastructure. These connections are called V2V and V2I. The latter is currently being pushed by USDOT as a field of research, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking to the former as a way to improve safety.

This is all to say, at some point, even the home-brew folks could try things out, with lessened impact to those around them, once things get connected properly. (No word on Pedestrian and Bicycle to Anything tech yet, but I'm sure there will be an app for that.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:02 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


So it learns from watching. What happens if you show it some repeat fiery car crashes or a few hours of drunk driving footage?
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:18 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


“It scares me what Facebook is doing with AI,” Hotz says. “They’re using machine-learning techniques to coax people into spending more time on Facebook.”

Facebook, opiate of the people....

But yeah, self-driving cars, cool.
posted by photoslob at 7:27 AM on January 26, 2016


After a couple miles, Hotz lets go of the wheel and pulls the trigger on the joystick, kicking the car into self-driving mode. He does this as we head into an S curve at 65 miles per hour. I say a silent prayer. Hotz shouts, “You got this, car! You got this!”

I really want this to just be a Candid Camera/Nathan For You hoax, Hotz is actually an improv comic doing a character, and the car is actually being driven Mechanical Turk-style by a stuntman in the trunk. Because otherwise this is all just too insane.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:29 AM on January 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


but make him teach seniors about anti-virus software or something.

Cruel and unusual. Won't fly.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:42 AM on January 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


So it learns from watching. What happens if you show it some repeat fiery car crashes or a few hours of drunk driving footage?
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:18 AM on January 26 [+] [!]


Has a quick spank of the monkey and, we hope, washes its rims after.
posted by chavenet at 7:43 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I love it that there's a joystick.
posted by MtDewd at 8:03 AM on January 26, 2016


This kind of very simple self-driving car outfit – a sort of step up from cruise control, which works for a little while on highways until you pull off onto city streets – will probably be standard on new cars within a few years, I think. It's a common enough project, and well enough advanced, among major car companies. The full self-driving package, however – a car that drives on all streets alone, not requiring any input from drivers – is a lot further off, I think.

I really hope this dude wakes up to the importance of laws, though. I am really sick of tech companies thinking they're too good for civic responsibility.
posted by koeselitz at 8:14 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


This kind of very simple self-driving car outfit – a sort of step up from cruise control, which works for a little while on highways until you pull off onto city streets – will probably be standard on new cars within a few years, I think.
I agree. It's already pretty common in the premium and luxury segments. Not standard yet, but often a cheap option to add to cars in those segments.

I give it 5 years before it's a dirt-cheap option even on economy cars.

Back to TFA: George Hotz seems like a tremendous ***h*** every time I read something about him. Dude seems to care more about his interests, his fame, etc. more than little things like "laws" or "other people". Not cool.
posted by -1 at 8:27 AM on January 26, 2016


The theory behind this type of AI software has been around for decades.

Yeah, the difficult part is not programming a self-driving car. The difficult part is programming a self-driving car that will be safe in all situations.

Hopefully Hotz reads Computer Related Risks.
posted by eviemath at 8:41 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tesla Motors: LOL, NOPE
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:15 AM on January 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


This feels like episode 915,183 of "immature tech dude with loads of highly specific experience and an irrepressible faith in his ability to solve all problems by reasoning from first principles dismisses decades, even centuries, of hard-won experience as conservative fuddy-duddies afraid to embrace the future."

I mean, sure. Sometimes you're onto something and the people who tell you to slow down are just worried about the status quo. But sometimes that "status quo" is just things like "prioritize the safety of the public over the ferret-like attentions of hobbyist inventors."
posted by verb at 9:20 AM on January 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


All I keep seeing is his development rig right next to his hot water heater. Having seen them dump their contents all over the floor before, somehow that scares me more than the self-driving car thing.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:42 AM on January 26, 2016


“I live by morals, I don’t live by laws,” Hotz declared in the story. “Laws are something made by assholes.”

So.... i might suggest he swap the placement of morals and laws in that sentence. But i guess both can go off the rails or be ineffective.
posted by rebent at 10:15 AM on January 26, 2016


Tesla Motors: LOL, NOPE

George Hotz : Justin Hammer :: Elon Musk : Tony Stark
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:28 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Elon Musk vanity project issues press release dissing George Hotz vanity project.
posted by Vulgar Euphemism at 10:34 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Back to TFA: George Hotz seems like a tremendous ***h*** every time I read something about him. Dude seems to care more about his interests, his fame, etc. more than little things like "laws" or "other people". Not cool.


I had a hard time reading this article with a neutral eye, because I went to school with him. Thankfully, he bailed halfway through the semester? I've been trying to write a comment and it keeps devolving into keyboard-smashing.
posted by you could feel the sky at 10:35 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


“I live by morals, I don’t live by laws,” Hotz declared in the story. “Laws are something made by assholes.”

The thing is, when we create laws that are insane, we can start expecting people to break laws as they will. Wasn't rooting an iPhone a violation of the DMCA? I agree that this is a pretty reckless project, but I wonder if it's more reckless than driving drunk. Or more reckless than texting while driving (which is similarly dangerous as driving drunk). So this is a PSA to refuse to drive with your friends that text while driving, is what I'm saying.

I really hope this dude wakes up to the importance of laws, though. I am really sick of tech companies thinking they're too good for civic responsibility.

Isn't this more literally a dude in his garage than a tech company?

I don't want to see him in jail, but make him teach seniors about anti-virus software or something.

What exactly should he be teaching them? That anti-virus is an incomplete solution that won't protect you? That anti-virus software is often times an attack vector and riddled with security holes? Or merely that because they are old they don't have a firm grasp on technology (meta)?
posted by el io at 11:10 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


“I live by morals, I don’t live by laws,” Hotz declared in the story. “Laws are something made by assholes.”

Oh good, another entitled, white, male, libertarian techno-geek here to save us from the chains of the Old System® and herald the New Way™ with his amazing Vaporware. Pre-order now for an exclusive download code to HL3

If you could all do me a favor and PM me so I know when to exhale.

ps. Christ what an asshole.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:42 PM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Too bad they did not stop to answer the obvious question: If you're training this thing based on observation of real-world human driving, how is it going to learn to handle things that happen only once per many thousand hours of driving? Such as the "deer that leaps into the road" which probably isn't an everyday occurrence on those roads. Or a car driving the wrong way down the freeway.

I mean we can assume that he's planning to train it for things like that in simulation, and won't be letting his hands get too far from the steering wheel until it's done and tested, but we can see there are at least a few in the audience here who would not make such generous assumptions.
posted by sfenders at 1:16 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


el io: “Isn't this more literally a dude in his garage than a tech company?”

Yeah, but Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick say stuff like that all the time. It's not one dude in his garage; it's the whole industry.
posted by koeselitz at 2:07 PM on January 26, 2016


This shit is awesome I just want to know when it gets wired into the national defence grid?
posted by um at 3:25 PM on January 26, 2016


Yeah, but Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick say stuff like that all the time. It's not one dude in his garage; it's the whole industry.

Let's critique those guys for things they do and say, not for what a garage tinkerer says and does. It's a bit much to call a dude in a garage (literally) part of the whole industry.

My understanding is that the self-driving car companies are working within the law (and helping shape new legislation to deal with self-driving cars), so it's a bit much to talk about them as if they are rampant law breakers.
posted by el io at 3:38 PM on January 26, 2016


I understand the hairy eyeballs at George testing his software live on the road, but do realize he spent some time training it in passive mode to get some idea whether it had skills, and he was in a position to grab the wheel when he gave it control. He probably understands he will be liable if it goes pear-shaped but he has also placed himself right at the scene of the accident. He has a reason to be highly motivated to make sure it is workable. Elon Musk and Larry Page aren't test-driving their cars.

As for his arrogance, consider that from his point of view for most of civilized history the world has been run by princes and generals and lately bankers, nearly all of whom reached their positions of power by factors other than skill or knowledge. Can one blame him for thinking that maybe at some point people who know they are smarter than these derps should start acting like they're smarter than these derps? That maybe we should start denying the undeserved signs of fealty which are demanded and asserting a claim based on something more substantive than parentage and the ability to lie smoothly?

Of course there are real-world implications to doing that, some of them deserved and some of them unpleasantly not so. George seems aware of those implications though. He was already sued by Sony over the PS3 hack. There is a fine line between stupidity and courage when comes to defying authority, but so far I tend to think GeoHot has come down on the courageous side more than the stupid side. Time will tell where this car thing lands. The bettor who is aware of history would not bet against him, though.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:38 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Testing this on public streets is fucking reckless.

I hope - and like to assume - that the human in the car while the technology is still in development and unpredictable is both paying attention to what's happening, and has the ability to grab the wheel and shut down the auto-pilot. If we can override cruise control with a tap on the brakes, I would hope/assume that self-driving will have a similar gate.
posted by bendy at 8:04 PM on January 26, 2016


I understand the hairy eyeballs at George testing his software live on the road, but do realize he spent some time training it in passive mode to get some idea whether it had skills, and he was in a position to grab the wheel when he gave it control. He probably understands he will be liable if it goes pear-shaped but he has also placed himself right at the scene of the accident. He has a reason to be highly motivated to make sure it is workable. Elon Musk and Larry Page aren't test-driving their cars.

If he made a mistake, he, the journalist, and anyone else he crashes into could die. With software that, as far as we know, has only been tested himself.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:19 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tesla Motors: LOL, NOPE

This sounds more like Tesla trying to repair the damage to its relationship with Mobileye, which unless we think the email in the article from Musk to Hotz is a forgery, is one which Tesla would be quite happy to dump if the opportunity arose.
posted by modernnomad at 3:30 AM on January 27, 2016


« Older A few seconds closer to Midnight?   |   Iran Is Back in Business Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments