Alex Roy and Autonocast — Hypocrisy, Bravado and the Tacit Approval of the Dangerous and Untenable use of Public Shadow Driving

Several months ago, I recorded what I believed to be a future episode on Autonocast. I contacted the hosts after hearing Alex Roy mention he wanted to have me on as a guest on a prior show. The subject he said he wanted to discuss being my being a member of SAE’S autonomous vehicle testing task force (ORAD V&V) and my differences of opinion with them on handover, L3. That being I do not believe the level should exist. The reason being that no monitoring and alert system can make the process safe in critical scenarios. To his credit Alex has had similar opinions on that for some time. Unfortunately, the episode not only never aired but I was not informed it would not nor given any reason it would not be. I only came to find out it would not be aired, months later, after I raised the issue with Autonocast on Twitter and someone else stated they would like to hear the episode. After several failed attempts to receive a response from Alex Roy, Ed Niedermeyer and Kirsten Korosec I decided to take the issue a bit more public. In that Twitter thread Alex responded by saying they don’t air every episode. However, he nor anyone else apologized for not informing me of that nor explaining why it would not be aired. Alex went on to say he would not be “shamed” in to doing so. Full disclosure on my part — yes, I was now trying to use the public arena to force Autonocast to not just respond but to try to find out what their actual position on public shadow driving is. This included my posting my first article on this issue. (My time on this planet and being a post-911 DoD/DHS whistleblower have taught me that if people do not respond to you or respond appropriately when you try the private approach, they will only do the right thing if forced to. Public airing of the information is one unfortunate part of doing that. And yes, I tried reaching out to Alex Roy privately again to discuss this, prior to posting this second article, with no response.) I decided to write this article after hearing Autonocast Episode 123. The episode dealt with Alex Roy’s new role at Argo.

There are several key quotes for Alex I would like to list;

· “Opposed to BS approaches”

· “Continue to beat drum for overall safety”

· “Good guys being lumped in with bad actors”

· Argo “lines up” with his values and they “will deploy for real”

· “Transparency is everything”

First, I call — BS. Given that list, where Alex Roy trumpets their “no BS” and safety moniker as well as support for the creation of autonomous vehicles, I believe Autonocast has an ethical, professional and morale responsibility to walk that talk or stop saying these things. Especially since the biggest problem in the industry by far, the one that will lead to thousands of needless casualties and anything close to full autonomy ever being realized, is the one they are silent on. That being the use of public shadow driving to develop these systems.

Why is Autonocast, especially Alex Roy, against handover for use for L3 but not public shadow driving? (BTW L3 itself is really just public shadow driving since they need the paying customers, like Tesla and to sacrifice their lives, their families lives and the public around them to get them the data they need to get to L4.) My assumption is that they realize pushing back on L3 is far safer for them than pushing back on public shadow driving. The latter would put them at odds with virtually the entire industry. It would demonstrate they are wasting hundreds of billions of dollars and people’s lives (four so far) on a process that can never come remotely close to fruition. The biggest technical debacle since Columbus. The problem here of course, like the new industry marketing and hype behemoth PAVE Campaign, is that which you are silent on is interpreted as tacit approval. This then enables its use and the average person to continue to believe the process is safe, necessary and tenable. That the lives lost and the many yet to be lost are a necessary evil.

Autonocast given your positions in the industry, as “journalists” and as a group that touts their desire to seek the truth and promote safety, and the fact that lives were lost and will be lost for this process, dictate you take a position on this issue. Push back on my POV, in detail,or support it. State whether or not the four lives lost to date and the many more to come, like Elon Musk and Mark Rosekind have said, are for the greater good. That public shadow driving is the best or only process to develop these systems.

Walk your own Talk.

(Curious if one of the four casualties was someone you cared about would your opinion be the same? Do we have to wait for that to happen for you to step up? Unfortunately, odds are it will within the next two years.)

Specific public shadow driving issues the Autonocast folks should comment on in detail.

· You cannot drive and redrive, stumble and restumble on all the scenarios that need to be learned. RAND and Toyota have said it is five hundred billion to one trillion miles. Given that you cannot spend over $150B, per company, to even try it.

· The practice is reckless and causes unnecessary loss of life. The first area being handover which is at the heart of the testing portion of development. The other being there will be thousands of casualties when these companies move from benign scenarios to those that are complex and dangerous, especially thousands of accident scenarios they would have to run thousands of times each to train and test the AI/ML.

· The resolution being to use aerospace/DoD/FAA level simulation and systems/ safety engineering. That would replace 99.9% of the public shadow driving. (Test tracks and hands on public driving would be encouraged and use to inform and validated the simulation. Where necessary public shadow driving would be used but run in an orchestrated manner.)

Please find more information here

SAE Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Magazine — End Public Shadow Driving

Autonomous Vehicle Industry — To build Trust and Succeed — Do the Opposite of what you are doing

Autonocast — Walk all the Talk — Never aired my episode (My first article on this topic)