When you steal your ideas for a self-driving car from Maximum Overdrive

Feb 2, 2022

Maximum Overdrive was a film written and directed by Stephen King in which all machines become sentient, including vehicles. It’s probably best known for:

  1. Being the only movie Stephen King directed.
  2. Having the AC/DC album Who Made Who as its soundtrack.
  3. The “main character”, a semi-truck with a goblin face that tries to kill people.

It’s an awful film, but it’s a great “here’s the absolute worst-case scenario for self-driving vehicles.”

Related, Tesla has to recall a bunch of cars because they roll through stop signs. That’s not quite stick a goblin mask on it bad, but as a consumer product it ain’t a great start. Tesla true believers will tell you “humans would do that too”, but in my opinion human drivers are only slightly better than sentient goblin trucks anyway, so maybe we should aim higher.

I find many interesting articles on Hacker News, and sometimes interesting comments. But the first one here is a treat: basically, how should a self-driving car know whether to do the “school’s in” speed in a school zone, or the “school’s out” speed. Can mankind solve this impossible question? What first solution might we try? My gut says if we go double the max speed limit, we’ll be too fast for anyone to catch us!

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