Friday, July 15, 2016

Expert panel foresees a world of autonomous vehicles

Four experts and an Assemblymember gathered last night in the auditorium of High Tech Los Angeles magnet high school to discuss the future of autonomous vehicles in Los Angeles and generally. 
Forty-sixth district Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian convened the session, which featured presentations and question-answering by Dr. Sheila Tejada, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Southern California; Colin Peppard, chief of innovation at LA Metro; Dr. Rajit Gadh, professor of engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Bernard Soriano, deputy director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

While each panelist raised questions about various aspects of the transition to a future full of cars that can drive themselves, there seemed to be a consensus among them that this transition was happening already and would only accelerate in the future, as technical and regulatory hurdles are confronted and overcome.

About 40 citizens attended the presentation.

Google and Tesla, and their work on self-driving/autonomous cars, got a lot of the attention from the panelists, even though no one from either company participated in this discussion about their work.  After the formal conclusion of the session, Assemblymember Nazarian mentioned that both had been invited to appear, but had declined, probably, he thought, so they could better gauge public response to their vehicle automation efforts without getting publicly involved in the discussion yet.  He said these companies would probably be watching the video of the session, which they, and everyone, can view now here. 
Assemblymember Nazarian acknowledged to a reporter from Etopia News that the automation of fields other that transportation was also a pressing concern and that this would make a good subject for a subsequent panel event, after a suitable interval had passed since this one.  When it was suggested that artificial intelligence-generated technological unemployment might even one day be an issue that impinges on the job security of “elected officials,” and that when that happened there would finally be politicians who kept their promises, this canny official replied, “That will depend on how they’re programmed.”  There was agreement on that.  Then he added, “It will depend on who programs them.”

The event, scheduled to start at 6:00 pm, didn’t start until 6:30 pm, due to the fact that some panelists were stuck in traffic.

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