People keep getting banned for doing the darndest and seemingly dumbest of acts.
Oftentimes getting banned for the rest of their entire life.
You might have heard or seen the recent brouhaha in major league baseball when a spectator in Yankee Stadium seated above leftfield opted to throw a baseball down onto the field that then struck the Boston Red Sox player Alex Verdugo in the back. He was not hurt, but you can imagine the personal dismay and shock at suddenly and unexpectedly having a projectile strike him from behind, seemingly out of nowhere.
Turns out that Alex had earlier tossed the same baseball up into the stands as a memento for a young Red Sox cheering attendee. By some boorish grabbing, it had ended up in the hands of a New York Yankees fan. Next, after some hysterical urging by other frenetic Yankees to toss it back, the young man did so. Whether this act of defiance was intentionally devised to smack the left-fielder is still unclear and it could have been a happenstance rather than a purposeful aim.
Regardless, this can instigate a highly dangerous slippery slope as sparked by the wayward or calculated act of an individual fan. If one person can get away with this, you can bet that others will soon thereafter try doing the same. It starts with an errant baseball and the next thing you know there is all manner of debris and piercing objects being rained down upon the players on the field.
As later on officially stated by the Yankees organization, this act by the attendee was considered a reckless, disorderly, and dangerous form of behavior and simply will not be tolerated.
Period, full stop.
Plus, this declarative condemnation is more than mere talk.
To showcase a serious and somber resolve to enforce the presumed walk-with-the-talk, as it were, this particular fan has been banned from attending any further games at Yankee Stadium. On top of that, the rest of the major league also agreed to ban the fan. And on top of that, this is a lifetime ban.
Presumably, the fan can never again attend in-person any major league baseball game for the rest of his life.
If the young fan is perhaps in his early 20s right now, this means that he cannot attend any major league baseball games when he is in his 30s, nor in his 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and however long he lives.
Think about that.
For example sixty years from now, in the year 2081, he still won’t be able to attend such a game. What will the future world be like in that year? Will we all be finally traveling around via the use of jetpacks on our backs? Will we already be living on Mars? Say, you wonder, if major league baseball starts to play on Mars, will this particular ban still apply or is it only relegated to games played on Earth?
I suppose cynics might say this latest ban is not much of a penalty and point out that the wrongdoer can still watch the baseball games from home or anywhere else on TV, including possibly finding a position outside a stadium that allows him to directly peer into the field of play. He might also personally decide that he never wants to watch a major league baseball game again, anyway, and thus the penalty is rather mute from his perspective.
Still, it does seem like there has got to be a bit of a sting to know that he’ll always be banned from attending all those baseball games for the rest of his time on this planet. We might assume he was something of a baseball fan, to begin with. Furthermore, the now declared ban might get him into the fevered mood of eagerly wanting to attend future games, as much or more so than before having gotten the ban placed upon him (a classic response to the enactment of the forbidden fruit).
Some wonder about the practical nature of enforcing the ban.
The assumption is that the major league baseball organizations all have his name and can seek to stop him from buying a ticket using his name. That of course is under the logic that he would use his real name to purchase a ticket. Also, unless attending baseball games goes the route akin to flying on airplanes, including having a TSA-like check-in to see your formal ID and ascertain whether you can proceed accordingly, it seems like this ostensibly banned fan can likely skirt around the sanction.
Speaking of the TSA, the notion of banning someone is especially known via the ongoing and seeming increasing efforts to ban people from flying that have performed some notable transgression.
We daily witness online videos of flying passengers that go berserk during a flight or while getting onto a plane. The particular airline involved then announces that the person is being banned from all further flights on that airline. This can sometimes be taken up too by other airlines that agree to equally enforce the ban.
The federal government officially has the famous (or infamous) no-fly list, assuredly one of the most widely known types of bans when it comes to nearly anything that is banned. News outlets indicate that the feds no-fly list has around 3,000 names on it. Some people are considered banned forever, while others are banned on a timed basis that might consist of months or years in duration.
You would naturally expect that this type of ban has some teeth to it since getting onto a commercial flight takes quite a bit of identification checking. The belief is that a person would not readily be able to find a means to evade the ban. That being said, as it is with humans and their altogether devious ways, where there is a will there is a potential means of circumvention.
Where else might people find themselves getting banned?
Consider that the future of cars consists of AI-based true self-driving cars.
There isn’t a human driver involved in a true self-driving car. Keep in mind that true self-driving cars are driven via an AI driving system. There isn’t a need for a human driver at the wheel, and nor is there a provision for a human to drive the vehicle. For my extensive and ongoing coverage of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) and especially self-driving cars, see the link here.
Here’s an intriguing question that is worth pondering: Is it conceivable that AI-based true self-driving cars might rally together to ban particular passengers from ever riding again in a self-driving car?
I’d like to first further clarify what is meant when I refer to true self-driving cars.
Understanding The Levels Of Self-Driving Cars
As a clarification, true self-driving cars are ones that the AI drives the car entirely on its own and there isn’t any human assistance during the driving task.
These driverless vehicles are considered Level 4 and Level 5 (see my explanation at this link here), while a car that requires a human driver to co-share the driving effort is usually considered at Level 2 or Level 3. The cars that co-share the driving task are described as being semi-autonomous, and typically contain a variety of automated add-on’s that are referred to as ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems).
There is not yet a true self-driving car at Level 5, which we don’t yet even know if this will be possible to achieve, and nor how long it will take to get there.
Meanwhile, the Level 4 efforts are gradually trying to get some traction by undergoing very narrow and selective public roadway trials, though there is controversy over whether this testing should be allowed per se (we are all life-or-death guinea pigs in an experiment taking place on our highways and byways, some contend, see my coverage at this link here).
Since semi-autonomous cars require a human driver, the adoption of those types of cars won’t be markedly different than driving conventional vehicles, so there’s not much new per se to cover about them on this topic (though, as you’ll see in a moment, the points next made are generally applicable).
For semi-autonomous cars, it is important that the public needs to be forewarned about a disturbing aspect that’s been arising lately, namely that despite those human drivers that keep posting videos of themselves falling asleep at the wheel of a Level 2 or Level 3 car, we all need to avoid being misled into believing that the driver can take away their attention from the driving task while driving a semi-autonomous car.
You are the responsible party for the driving actions of the vehicle, regardless of how much automation might be tossed into a Level 2 or Level 3.
Self-Driving Cars And Banning Bad Passengers
For Level 4 and Level 5 true self-driving vehicles, there won’t be a human driver involved in the driving task.
All occupants will be passengers.
The AI is doing the driving.
One aspect to immediately discuss entails the fact that the AI involved in today’s AI driving systems is not sentient. In other words, the AI is altogether a collective of computer-based programming and algorithms, and most assuredly not able to reason in the same manner that humans can.
Why is this added emphasis about the AI not being sentient?
Because I want to underscore that when discussing the role of the AI driving system, I am not ascribing human qualities to the AI. Please be aware that there is an ongoing and dangerous tendency these days to anthropomorphize AI. In essence, people are assigning human-like sentience to today’s AI, despite the undeniable and inarguable fact that no such AI exists as yet.
With that clarification, you can envision that the AI driving system won’t natively somehow “know” about the facets of driving. Driving and all that it entails will need to be programmed as part of the hardware and software of the self-driving car.
Let’s dive into the myriad of aspects that come to play on this topic.
First, you might be curious as to why someone would potentially be banned from riding in a self-driving car.
We currently think of self-driving cars as exciting and a novelty. There are plenty of posted videos of people riding in an existing self-driving tryout. They seem to be happy. They seem to relish being inside a self-driving car. This is like tasting a piece of the future by getting a chance now to early-days glean what the world will inevitably become. For a detailed indication of what it is like to ride in one of today’s self-driving cars, see my discussion at this link here.
The thrill though won’t last.
I’ve exhorted repeatedly that the excitement of being a passenger inside a self-driving car does not have a particularly lengthy stasis. Once you’ve gotten used to the idea that there isn’t a human seated in the driver’s seat, you begin to be less caring about the fact that there is a hidden AI driving system that is pulling all the strings and operating the driving controls. It becomes an old hat and loses its allure as a novelty. See my coverage on this matter at the link here.
My strident prediction is that self-driving cars are going to face some pretty fierce competition.
The competition is whether prospective passengers will choose to ride in a self-driving car versus a human-driven car. You assume that of course, everyone will pick a self-driving car, but I would advise caution on that core belief.
If the price to use a self-driving car is less than the comparable human-driven car, you would likely be on relatively safe ground to claim that riders will clamor toward using self-driving cars. The hope is that the cost of self-driving cars is going to be lowered due to the lack of human-driver labor, and as such, the per-mile pricing will be quite inexpensive.
On that basis, pundits are predicting an era of mobility-for-all, whereby those that cannot afford to use a car today will be able to use self-driving cars.
Suppose though that the price to use self-driving cars is on par with human-driven cars, or possibly even more costly. What then? Other than taking a self-driving car as a first-time experience, you would need to weigh the cost difference for each subsequent ride. Paying attention to your wallet is probably going to be more vital than simply taking a mundane everyday ride in what just so happens to be a self-driving car. There are even voiced concerns that self-driving cars might be only usable by the extremely wealthy and special celebrities, see my analysis at this link here.
In any case, let’s take at face value that self-driving cars will gradually become prevalent and the pricing will be moderate, ergo people will often make use of self-driving cars over selecting instead a human-driven car. So, we are going to have all kinds of people in all kinds of places in all kinds of life circumstances that will be passengers inside self-driving cars.
You certainly have to anticipate that humans will do unruly things.
Especially since there isn’t a human driver at the wheel, whereby the human driver is usually a type of craziness inhibitor that keeps passengers from going wild. The driver can tell riders to stay still. The driver can give the passengers a mean look that tells them to behave themselves. The driver can potentially tattle on bad behaving passengers, perhaps by calling the police or other authorities.
What might unfettered passengers do while inside a self-driving car?
The sky is the limit.
Some passengers might be quiet and respectful, staying properly seated during the entire driving journey. I’d like to think that will constitute the preponderance of passengers. Give that a smiley face view of the world.
Then there are the outliers (give that a frown face emoji).
While inside a self-driving car, you might as well party it up. Have a ruckus of a time. Roll down the windows and stick your head and other limbs outside the autonomous vehicle. Wave at people. Scream at people. You can do all of this because there isn’t that onerous human driver trying to urge you to get back into the car. You are finally free.
I am even anticipating that we might still have variants of road rage.
Yes, despite not having anyone at the wheel, it is conceivable that some passengers will anyway wield a gun and opt to potentially use it. This seems unimaginable simply due to the obvious factor that they cannot then command the AI driving system to sprint away and escape from the scene of the crime. Though this lack of being able to dart away ought to stop any such shenanigans, don’t bet on it.
A decidedly sinister act would be a cyber crook that gets into a self-driving car and tries to reprogram the AI driving system. By being inside the autonomous vehicle, the evildoer hacker can potentially crack into the onboard processors and enact some villainous scheme. This is the kind of person that we might all agree should be banned from being a “rider” inside a self-driving car.
The overall point is that it is certainly possible that some passengers will do bad things while riding in self-driving cars. Besides doing something outrageous that alarms those around the self-driving car, other adverse actions would entail doing destructive acts to the interior of the self-driving car. You can envision some shady people that might decide to rip up the seats or spray paint graffiti within a self-driving car.
For any of a myriad of reasons, a fleet operator of a set of self-driving cars might likely decide they want to ban a particular rider from using their fleet again. This ban might be time-based such as for the day, a week, a month, or for several years. It could also be a lifetime ban.
How will this ban be enforced?
This is actually easier to do and more stringent than nearly all the other types of banning circumstances of today.
Keep in mind that self-driving cars will be loaded with lots of sensory devices. There are video cameras, radar, LIDAR, ultrasonic units, thermal imagining, and the like. When a self-driving car comes to pick you up based on your request, it can “see you” and scan to try ascertaining who you are. For example, facial recognition would be an obvious form of detection and identification.
Someone that had been a prior rowdy passenger could readily be added to a self-driving car fleet database that is the equivalent of a localized no-fly list. This fleet database would be accessible by all of the self-driving cars in the fleet, doing so by using OTA (Over-the-Air) electronic communications. The database would presumably be in a cloud that is maintained by the fleet operator. All of the self-driving cars in the fleet would routinely download the no-fly data into the onboard computers of the autonomous vehicle.
Thus, any of the self-driving cars in that fleet could seek to directly determine whether a prospective passenger has been banned from using those autonomous vehicles. This detection could occur when the person walks up to get into the self-driving car.
If somehow the person can skirt past that detection, there are other secondary means of scrutinizing the person. Once the person gets into the self-driving car, the sensors can continue to examine the person.
There are likely inward-facing video cameras and microphones, usually intended to allow for being able to do fun and useful things while riding in a self-driving car. One expectation is that people might take online training courses that they can complete during their daily commute to work. You get into a self-driving car on your way to work in the morning, do part of an online training class, and then when you head home at night you continue the coursework. This turns your “wasted” or idle time of being inside a car as a rider into something personally fruitful.
Well, it is possible that the video cameras and microphones could be on even if you weren’t necessarily aware of their presence. Assume that in some prior ride you had messed around and the circumstance was entirely recorded on video and audio, subsequently stored into the cloud database of the fleet operator. The AI could then analyze that video and audio, such that upon being in a self-driving car at a later date, the AI driving system could potentially pinpoint that it is you again, based on the prior visual images and the audio signature of your voice.
In short, it is going to be a lot easier to try and enforce a ban due to the chockful of state-of-the-art sensors on a self-driving car. The sensors are there mainly for purposes of self-driving, though they can be used for a variety of other purposes too.
As an important aside, there is a hornet’s nest of privacy intrusion issues that this is going to bring to the fore, see my discussion about the “roving eye” (my terminology) at this link here.
Note that I’ve emphasized that the ban would seemingly be initiated by a particular fleet operator. I mention this because the belief generally is that self-driving cars will be deployed in fleets.
A company might decide that they are going to purchase or lease a large bunch of self-driving cars from a particular automaker or self-driving tech firm, and then deploy those in a specific area. They are then a fleet operator in that area.
There might be other companies that do likewise and also opt to put their fleet in that same area. You then have a multitude of fleets operating in the same geographic area. Each of the fleets is considered distinct, likely having their own cloud-based systems to keep track of data collected by their respective fleet.
Okay, so one of the fleets decides to ban a passenger. This ban might be only effective for that specific fleet in that particular geographic area. If the company perchance has other fleets in various other cities or towns, perhaps the company might notify those other allied fleets too. In addition, the fleets in a given area might have a cooperative agreement amongst themselves. They might opt to share the various disparate no-fly lists.
If that happened, the person listed would presumably not be able to get any self-driving car as a rider anywhere that those fleets operate.
All told, this could radiate outwards extensively and a person would essentially be banned from using any self-driving cars anywhere throughout the country. Depending upon how far the fleets extend, this could end up being a worldwide ban.
Now, to be clear about this, the whole arrangement of having banned lists that are shared and traded back and forth by the numerous fleet operators of self-driving cars is a bit of an overstretch in that this doesn’t yet exist. Nonetheless, the technological facets are relatively trivial and it would mainly be a matter of the cost to put such a program in place. The cost might be worth it, attempting to keep the bad apples of unsavory passengers out of the self-driving cars of the numerous fleets.
You can imagine that any especially unruly or outrageous rider could indeed be a bad apple that spoils the entire barrel of self-driving cars in society. If the over-the-top foul acts grab headlines, which you can be assured would happen since they touched upon the advent of self-driving cars, there would be a potentially pulling back from self-driving cars. People might be worried about what nutty passengers are going to do.
There is a chance too that regulators would get into the ballgame, as it were. There readily could be a federally maintained list of those that are not to be allowed to ride in self-driving cars. This kind of overarching no-fly list then would presumably be observed and obeyed by all self-driving cars being operated nationwide.
There are numerous twists and turns on this, which I won’t cover fully herein, but will proffer a few prominent ones.
Passengers that get embroiled in the self-driving car rider banning might believe they are falsely accused or might assert that they were somewhat deserving but that the time length of the ban is overly burdensome and uncalled for. Someone that gets a lifetime ban could argue that being banned for a year would be sufficient rather than for the rest of their life. That kind of thing.
Thus, one aspect you can pretty much guarantee about banning people from riding in self-driving cars is that it will ultimately and nearly immediately land into our courts. Lawyers are likely going to be eager to fight these battles.
Yet another twist is something that I slightly glossed over earlier, and that you might have caught out of the corner of your eye.
I had stated that passengers will possibly go wild and do crazy things while inside self-driving cars because there isn’t a human driver present to give them the evil eye and tone them down. That makes indubitable sense that without humans overseeing other humans, misbehavior can result.
In the same breath, I mentioned that self-driving cars will likely have inward-facing video cameras and microphones. This would allow for recording the misbehaviors of passengers. Noted too is that this could be construed as a potential privacy intrusion.
The point now is that the AI driving system could potentially use inward-facing cameras and microphones to detect in real-time that someone is misbehaving while inside the self-driving car. Based on that suspected misbehavior, the AI driving system might instruct the rider to immediately quit monkeying around. If that didn’t do the trick, the AI driving system could indicate it will come to the soonest feasible safe stop and will not proceed with the ride.
And if that didn’t solve the matter, the AI driving system could alert the authorities, such as dialing 911 and reporting the offending passenger to the local police. You could even have the AI driving system take the passenger to a nearby police station or at least rendezvous with a dispatched police car.
I bring up this somewhat scary portrayal (scary because some liken this to a Big Brother overlord scenario), due to the assertion by some pundits that nobody is ever going to get riled up while riding inside a self-driving car. The passengers will realize that doing so is going to be instantly detected and they can find themselves either no longer able to ride or being delivered to the authorities.
What do you think?
Perhaps these usage safeguards assure that nobody will consider doing anything untoward while riding in a self-driving car. We will all be respectful and civil during our self-driving car rides. Yes, all of society will be compliant and no one will try to step out of line.
That’s going to be quite an interesting future to see. No bans are presumably needed, at least in the use case of self-driving cars. You can gleefully go your entire life riding in self-driving cars and won’t have to second-guess whether you are allowed to be riding in one or not.
And you can take a self-driving car to the ballpark, though it is conceivable you might be banned at the stadium gates there, but, hey, at least the self-driving car didn’t ban you.
That’s assuredly taking you out to the ballgame.
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