September 4, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 12:29 PM


Driverless cars may already be safer than human drivers (TIMOTHY B LEE, AUG 31, 2023, Understanding AI)

But we actually do know a fair amount about the safety of driverless taxis. Waymo and Cruise have driven a combined total of 8 million driverless miles, including more than 4 million in San Francisco since the start of 2023.1 And because California law requires self-driving companies to report every significant crash, we know a lot about how they've performed.

For this story, I read through every crash report Waymo and Cruise filed in California this year, as well as reports each company filed about the performance of their driverless vehicles (with no safety drivers) prior to 2023. In total, the two companies reported 102 crashes involving driverless vehicles. That may sound like a lot, but they happened over roughly 6 million miles of driving. That works out to one crash for every 60,000 miles, which is about five years of driving for a typical human motorist.

These were overwhelmingly low-speed collisions that did not pose a serious safety risk. A large majority appeared to be the fault of the other driver. This was particularly true for Waymo, whose biggest driving errors included side-swiping an abandoned shopping cart and clipping a parked car's bumper while pulling over to the curb.

Cruise's record is not impressive as Waymo's, but there's still reason to think its technology is on par with--and perhaps better than--a human driver.

Human beings drive close to 100 million miles between fatal crashes, so it's going to take hundreds of millions of driverless miles for 100 percent certainty on this question. But the evidence for better-than-human performance is starting to pile up, especially for Waymo. And so it's important for policymakers to allow this experiment to continue. Because at scale, safer-than-human driving technology would save a lot of lives.

Posted by orrinj at 11:13 AM


Russia's massive brain drain is ravaging the economy - these stunning figures show why it will soon be smaller than Indonesia's (Business Insider, September 3, 2023)

Since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion in February 2022, emigration out of Russia has exploded, with some estimates putting the exodus at 1 million people. A recent analysis from the policy platform Re: Russia narrowed the number to 817,000-922,000.

That's contributed to a record labor shortage, with 42% of industrial firms unable to find enough workers in July, up from 35% in April. 

The composition of Russia's exodus also points to the best and brightest fleeing the country. While a barrage of Western sanctions incentivized many to leave for economic reasons, others fled to avoid military service, skewing the numbers toward younger Russians.

Workers under the age of 35 now account for less than 30% of the labor force, the lowest on record going back 20 years.

And according to a report from the French Institute of International Relations, 86% of those who have left Russia are under the age of 45, and 80% have a college education. At least 100,000 IT professionals moved out of Russia in 2022, a Kremlin official estimated last year. 

Why would anyone with a brain stay.