back to article Angry mob trashes and sets fire to Waymo self-driving car

An angry mob has destroyed a Waymo self-driving taxi in San Francisco. "Waymo Vehicle surrounded and then graffiti'd [sic], windows were broken, and firework lit on fire inside the vehicle which ultimately caught the entire vehicle on fire," reads a Xeet from the San Francisco Fire Department. Nobody was in the car at the time …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    The place not to be

    San Francisco was once proud of it's city, I get the impression that that is no longer the case.

    Drug problem

    Homelessness

    Looting

    And now Anarchy whenever something doesn't appeal.

    Sounds like Gavin Newsom's not very active in the city. (Unless the Chinese President makes a visit obviously)

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: The place not to be

      Yes, SF sucks, but I am actually surprised it took this long. It looks like Californians are a lot more patient than folks on my side of the country. I am surprised the Cruise cars didn't get trashed because of all the stupid crap they were pulling. I have a feeling the Waymo car did something really stupid and it was a case of "enough is enough"

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: The place not to be

      I used to love SF. One of my two favourite cities in the world.

      Now... every time I go there, I have this rosy view of how it 'used' to be, and then I'm just desperately disillusioned when I get there. Many areas are now just really unpleasant place to be.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: The place not to be

        Just how big is this world ?

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: The place not to be

        I used to BART into the city when I was based in the East Bay in the 1990s. I absolutely loved going there and walking around.

        These descriptions of it today are just not recognisable to my memory of it, and very sad.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Bruce Ordway

        Re: The place not to be

        >>I have this rosy view of how it 'used' to be

        Yeah, I think a lot of US Cities aren't as nice as they used to be.

        For example I grew up in Denver it was still kind of "quaint".

        Last time I visited... it reminds me a lot of some California cities. (Not in a good way).

    3. Lyndication

      Re: The place not to be

      Unsurprising given the absurd cost of living. Having the very poor so close to the very wealthy rarely makes for a happy home. Especially when it's so very hard to stay out of that poverty in San Fran.

    4. Ace2 Silver badge

      Re: The place not to be

      Yeah, that city’s too crowded, no one goes there anymore

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The place not to be..eh..no..glad it finally happened

      You should have seen SF 30 years ago. Now that was pure Mad Max. Before Three Strikes solved the street crime problem for a while. Drive by's in Hayes Valley, Mission, and even Upper Haight. We even once had a Tec-9 shootout by Buena Vista Park. In the early '90's.

      So still pretty mellow by historical standards.

      As for the "Self Drive" scam. It just a pure VC play. Nothing more. Once the VC's decide they can fleece Bigger Fool investors in some other hyped up tech just watch all the "Self Drive" companies collapse and disappear. Because there is no viable market. But the Class Action liability lawsuits are inevitable. Just wait for GM to write off their $8 billion plus loss on Cruise and that will be the start of the stampede out by the VC's.

      The cars are a menace and their software stacks are a very shoddy joke. I've seen them do sudden stops on 16'th at Valencia because they were confused by a MUNI bus. I've seen them screw up traffic on freeways like 101 and 280 by their unpredictable lane driving behavior. The only reason they are allowed on the streets is because of big time payoff to seniors officials at various state agencies in Sacramento. Not just GM bough senior agency people either.

      So burn the f*ckers. Go skaters go. I'll even pony up a twenty for some more fireworks. The good stuff. From the Indian Reservations. Torch some more so that we can get these death traps off the streets. So when driving around SF we only have to watch out for the much more predicable random driving behavior of DUI's and other sketchy human drivers. Like Russian drivers. And recently arrived Mainlander Chinese. And Marin Matrons taking way too much medication.

    6. charlieboywoof

      Re: The place not to be

      Utter democratic hell, zero bail, zero sentencing go figure

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The place not to be..Blame Props 47/57

        Which put all the crims on the street. Paid for by Jerry Brown and billionaires like Zuckerberg, Steyer and Reed Hastings.

        The new City DA is locking up lots of people. Everyone she can given the constraints of Props 47 and 57. Unlike the previous City DA who was kicked out by voters. Chesa Boudin. A viscous psychopath (like his parents) who loves criminals and has total contempt for crime victims. Paid for by Soros et al, mentored by the likes of Bill Ayers, and who seemed to love brutal thugs who committed domestic violence. Boudin never prosecuted any domestic violence perps until they beat people to death. Like a 18 month old baby. Boudin should go to prison for negligent manslaughter in the death of Synciere Williams. Boudin was directly responsible for that babies death.

        Fun fact. Every single senior "progressive" pol of the last six decades in SF has some very strong connection or other directly or indirectly with Jim Jones. The Cool Aid Guy. The white guy who committed the biggest massacre of black people since the Civil War. About 600 at Jonestown. Which is why there is still no memorial to those victims in SF. Where the Peoples temple was based. Too many awkward facts to be buried by very powerful people.

        Fun'er fact. Nancy Pelosi's father was the mafia run mayor of Baltimore back in the 1950's. And Nancy got her political start as a teen in the ward politic of Baltimore. Watching how her dad "did" politics.

        Nice people. Those "Progressives".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The place not to be..Blame Props 47/57..two people who dont live in SF

          I see two down votes so far. So people who know less than zero about SF and its very squalid recent political history. There again neither do any of the Ten Years Tourists who are just passing through in SF. Who vote these bozos into office. And then bugger off out of town when the City goes down the chutes due to the politicians they vote into office.

          Unless you know the real reason why Dan White was acquitted (the Twinkie Defense was a later fabrication by an activist "journalist"), the last SF Mayor who had his mug shot taken (for selling under market price milk), or why Candlestick Mountain has a bite taken out of it, you know f*ck all about SF. No matter how long you might have lived in the Haight, NOPA or the Mission.

          There again politics in the City was always basically nuts. A fine tradition upheld since the first election in 1849. It can't be something in the water. That was shipped in much later from the Sierras. When corrupt City politicians (Democrats) had a dam built at the mouth of a valley just as beautiful as Yosemite Valley and filled with a water reservoir .

          But that's another story.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The place not to be..Blame Props 47/57..two people who dont live in SF

            That's not "Candlestick Mountain", it's Bayview Hill. Are you certain you know fuck all about San Francisco?

            The hillside was quarried in the late '50s to provide landfill for Candlestick Park. Didn't work very well ... during construction, field level sank to well below the high tide mark, making drainage a major issue and footing treacherous, especially in the Winter during football season. Awful, awful place to put a ballpark ...

            This reporter is the recipient of eighteen Croix de Candlestick pins, so it's quite likely that his memories have been frozen in time. Veni, Vidi, Vixi

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ..Blame Props 47/57..two people who dont live in SF..Candstick stories

              Its always been called Candlestick Mountain by the guys I know. Who are n'th generation San Franciscans. But what do they know. Bet you dont drive to Treasure Island on the Willie J Brown Jr Bridge. Yes, that's the official name of the suspension section.

              As you dont actually know the story of how the stadium ended up at the point it was part of a very SF deal between Mayor Christopher and a certain big name property developer of the day. If you're from SF you'll know who. Developer wanted to do a swap of some parcels he had at the point for some City land. I've heard several versions of the story but the land might have been part of the Seal Stadium deal at 16'th / Bryant.

              Big promises were made about Candlestick and when winds rolling in from both directions, from the Bay and San Bruno Mountain, made baseball games pretty much impossible the developer said I'll fix it by taking a huge chunk out out of the slope beside the stadium. Did nt work. So baseball was a misery until it moved to China Basin at 3'rd and King and football eventually moved to Santa Clara. I heard the fullest version of the story just after the 49'ers moved to Santa Clara and they had a catastrophic run of seasons and a bunch of not very happy lifetime 49'er season ticket holders were grousing about the situation. Several guys talking about happy memories of watching games at Kezar.

              The thing that always puzzled me was how the 49'ers could play games in Kezar Stadium. Which always looked very small to me. But it seemed it was about the same seating capacity as Candlestick and a lot more comfortable to see games in. Much like the Cal Bears stadium in Berkeley.

              So you see, I do know the f*ck what I'm talking about.

              Every hear the story about how Mayor Alioto and the SFPD Chief totally screwed up Melvin Belli's meeting with the Zodiac Killer. Out in Daly City. Thats another "Only in San Francisco" doozy of a story.

              Its that kind of place.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I used to love visiting San Francisco

    Seems the love affair is over.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I used to love visiting San Francisco

      Other people have posted the same

      Nobody cares about YOU.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I used to love visiting San Francisco

        You seem to!

      2. Winkypop Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: I used to love visiting San Francisco

        RE: “Nobody cares about YOU.”

        Don’t have a cow, man!

        1. Gort99
          Windows

          Re: I used to love visiting San Francisco

          Must be a San Franciscan.

  3. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Curious?

    "one million miles of autonomous operations without a fatality"

    Is this better or worse than say a thousand human SF drivers puting in 1000 miles (1600km) in the same localities? Or compared with a thousand taxi drivers etc who drive professionally?

    These saboteurs were problably drawn the discarded ranks recently downsized of google etc rather than the discourteous righteous urban cyclists. Although an underemployed, bored polloi might latch on to 'wrecking a waymo' as a 'fun thing' to do after the recreational drug(s) of one's choice.

    Personally if I could find a dodgy (-ier) scrappy I would happily consign all the rental e-scooters cluttering our city's streets to his tender and hopefully profitable recycling mercies.

    1. Ashentaine
      Facepalm

      Re: Curious?

      > Although an underemployed, bored polloi might latch on to 'wrecking a waymo' as a 'fun thing' to do after the recreational drug(s) of one's choice.

      Most likely the case. Several years ago here we had a couple of smaller companies that were trying to establish car-sharing services in the city with a bunch of Smart Fortwos. Only a couple of months later a bunch of them were found flipped onto their sides and heavily damaged, and eventually the culprits were identified as local college students who were filming themselves doing it and posting the videos onto Dailymotion. They had no hatred towards the company, no real or percieved grudge, it was just a bunch of idiot frat kids who wanted social media clout and decided that the urban version of cow tipping was the way to do it.

      You know the rule, never attribute to malice that which can be sufficiently explained by stupidity.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Curious?

        Smart Car flipping:

        https://youtu.be/fefYl6m-Tm0

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Curious?

      Human drivers manage to kill 1.37 people per 100,000,000 miles driven, so 1000 miles isn't a large enough sample size to draw any conclusions other than it probably isn't 100,000 times more dangerous than a human.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Curious?

        In the UK 2021, 5.2 traffic deaths per billion mules driven. So a million miles without fatalities is just what you would expect; a single death would be either very, very bad luck or very, very unsafe cars.

        You need 200 million miles before we can start talking. With a million miles only, we can only say “not 200 times worse than human driven cars”.

    3. Lurko

      Re: Curious?

      "one million miles of autonomous operations without a fatality".....Is this better or worse than say a thousand human SF drivers puting in 1000 miles (1600km) in the same localities? Or compared with a thousand taxi drivers etc who drive professionally?

      Impossible to say yet. Apparently from my casual searching, the California average fatalities of 1.8 per 100 million miles is greater than the US average of around 1.4 f/100m m for all vehicles, so Waymo not having killed anyone in 1m miles can't yet be held to be better or worse. We might hope taxis are better driven than the average car on a per mile basis (generally supported by accident frequency data in New York, although only by around 30%) and they'll also be operating in urban environments which are lower risk.

      In terms of ambition it is worth noting that US meatsack driving standards are amongst the worst in the developed world, with roughly twice the fatalities per distance of Japan, Germany, UK, Denmark.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Curious?

        They have those big wide roads so they can get a bit of speed up.

        Then they have intersections.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Curious?

          The design of the vehicles is also a factor:

          You are more likely to hit someone in an American car because you can't see them, where the same person in the same position in front of a European car would be seen by the driver, and therefore the driver would be more likely to take action not to hit them.

          If you do hit someone with an American car, it is more likely to kill them than hitting them at the same speed with a European car. Obviously people do still get killed in collisions with European cars, but more people survive it. For example, the Tesla Cybertruck is not road-legal in Europe because of regulations related to that, and it is certainly not the only vehicle that fails to meet those regulations.

          1. Joe Gurman

            Re: Curious?

            "You are more likely to hit someone in an American car because you can't see them, where the same person in the same position in front of a European car would be seen by the driver, and therefore the driver would be more likely to take action not to hit them."

            Would you care to explain the difference(s) between "US" and "European" cars (many of which are manufactured elsewhere) that affect forward vision? I'm in the US, but have been driving ostensibly European-manufactured cars for the last 30 years, so I can't tell from personal experience.

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Curious?

              The amount of blind spot on the front of the car, due to the height of the driving seat above the ground, and the extent to which the engine area protrudes in front of the window.

              European trucks, it does not protrude at all, American trucks, it often does. In my car, it prodrudes a bit, but not enough that I can see it from the driver's seat, if I look out the bottom of the window, I see the road, not the bonnet/hood.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Curious?

                To (attempt) to get this back on topic, the Waymo car in question was a Jaguar i-pace, designed by Ian Stuart Callum CBE FRSE RDI, a Scot.

                We now return you to the usual gratuitous Yank bashing.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

            Try finding an "American Car" on the streets of SF. Light trucks, minivans and SUV's maybe. But apart from rebadged South Korean cars sold by the Big Three there are very few "American Cars" on the streets in California. Its been majority Japanese, German, Swedish etc cars for many decades. Since the 1980's. Now mostly build in the US I might add.

            As for US semis. Big rig tractors. They are not cab-over like in Europe due to very different regulations. But you rarely see them downtown and if you have ever ridden in a big rig you will know that visibility is never the problem. I've ridden in European cab overs and driven US mid sized trucks (not a big rig) and they have different blind spots but no big difference in close in visibility. I've driven a 5 ton / 28 foot truck in SF. Interesting but no big deal. And I've been in (Europena0 SUV's with much worse visibility than the 5 ton truck.

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

              If you take for example this streetview image from San Francisco

              https://maps.app.goo.gl/MscUNBmMhuF4J9P69

              The white pick-up truck would definitely not be road-legal. I don't think the driver would be able to see the bottom of the lamp post

              I think this would be an equivalent location in Glasgow, Scotland

              https://maps.app.goo.gl/2oVU8GRsj1m72nrS9

              You can see a difference in the sort of cars you find.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                You can drive Toyota Tundra trucks on the public roads in UK if you go to the trouble of importing one.

              2. jake Silver badge

                Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                "I think this would be an equivalent location in Glasgow, Scotland"

                A quiet cul-de-sac in an obscure corner of Glasgow is the equivalent of a major intersection like Columbus at Kearney in San Francisco? OK, if you say so.

                "The white pick-up truck would definitely not be road-legal."

                A quick poke around online shows quite a few Toyota Tundras of that model available for sale in the UK, all displaying plates indicating they are legal for over the road use[0].

                On the other hand, note the car parked[1] on the double-yellow in the Scottish pic, and the truck parked on a red curb[2] in the SF shot. Perhaps the residents of both cities are more alike than they would care to admit.

                [0] I'm not sure what kind of idiot would want one on those roads. It certainly wouldn't be my choice of a daily in the UK ...

                [1] At least she's in her car ... but it looks like the oblivious idiot is texting. Of course. Totally missed the alphagoo droid wandering around her.

                [2] Note that parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk is illegal in California, regardless of other street markings (new law this year).

                1. katrinab Silver badge
                  Meh

                  Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                  I chose Glasgow because it is the largest city in Scotland, but not the capital city, and also the city in the UK with the highest rate of car usage. It also has the lowest rate of car ownership, but it seems everyone who owns a car wants to use it all the time.

                  It is a location in the north of the city centre, right next to the M8 motorway, and one that people are more likely to visit by car.

                  The number of cars in the scene looked to be about the same in both images.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                    Whatever. It's apples and oranges.

              3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                > https://maps.app.goo.gl/MscUNBmMhuF4J9P69

                > The white pick-up truck would definitely not be road-legal.

                Actually THAT one would be road legal in Germany, albeit just barely with the normal driver license. But check that one: Would require a difference driver license in Germany, for cars above 3.5 ton (metric) weight when loaded. And the insurance is the next class too.

                As some from the US explained to me: The reason for those oversized pickups being bought is a tax (or similar, I forgot) loophole, originally designed for farmers who have actual use for old Ford F150 type cars. Nowadays this semi-truck class look like show-off, with a laughable mini platform half the capacity old F150 have. Mostly used to drive kids to school and back and groceries, for everything else they look to shiny. And don't you dare to drive the new F150 on roads the old (really old) F150 has no problems with.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                  That truck is just a 3/4 ton, might be a half-ton. Despite the looks, it is probably under your 3.5 ton (metric) weight when fully loaded.

                  It IS, however, parked on a red curb ... and in a turn lane in a "keep clear" area. If the SF cops were not hamstrung by City politics, ticketing such scofflaws would probably make the department self sufficient. But the board of supervisors say no, because "the poor driver is just trying to make a living". Idiots, the lot of them.

                  There is no tax loophole. People buy them because they have bought into the myth that "bigger is safer". Personally, I am of the belief that no matter how big your vehicle is, you can still kill yourself, your passengers and perhaps a few people in other vehicles IF YOU CAN'T FUCKING DRIVE, which most of the idiots who purchase this kind of thing as a grocery-getter can't.

                  You are quite correct, the modern trucks are nowhere near as sturdy as the old ones. You also can't get them with manual door locks, manual windows, and a hose-out interior (etc.) anymore. That's why my pickups are all working restorations of older vehicles. Much, much cheaper (including insurance) my way, too.

                  1. katrinab Silver badge
                    Meh

                    Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                    My Volkswagen Up!, which is a lot smaller than that, is 980kg. No way is that truck 500-750kg. A Citröen 2CV is 600kg.

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                      That pickup has a curb weight of around 2,300kg, wet and empty (plus or minus a hundred kilos or so, if I remember correctly and I'm doing the conversion properly in my head).

                      The 3/4ton and half-ton (non-metric) ratings are the factory rated load capability (do the math(s) yourself if it's all that important).

                    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                      Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                      That truck is almost the length and width of a Sherman tank (and not far off the height too)

                      The 2024 F150 in most basic form is under the 3500kg limit but by the time you load it up with passengers it's too heavy for a standard license (I had a similar issue with Long Wheelbase 50 series Landcruisers in New Zealand and staff had to obtain a heavy license to drive it with all the equipment required for various destinations, or sacrifice some test gear and hope it wasn't necessary on the day)

                      (Wikipedia says the current F150 is 1,846–2,584kg curb weight. It's surprisingly easy to add a ton of extra equipment and passengers - and to be honest whilst that's lighter than the curb weight of a substantially smaller 1974 FJ55V LWB, I'm pretty sure the 50 year old Toyota would still go places and handle roads that would shatter a modern F150)

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Curious?..so never been to Califoria then..

                  More specifically, it's about CAFE

                  Larger trucks are allowed to have worse milage than smaller ones. Something the size and weight of a 1990s F150 would need to get 25+mpg whilst something the size of the old 1970s datsun/mazda 1500 pickups would need to achieve 50+

                  Instead of doing as CAFE intended by improving overall mileage, automakers simply took the easy path of discontinuing the "impossible" milage smaller trucks and ballooning size until it fitted

                  This isn't helped by the Chicken Tax, which has gratuitously encouraged manufacturers to push vans/trucks at consumers instead of sedans/station wagons thanks to the 25% tariff protection barrier afforded this market segment and is prtety much the direct cause of the 1970s "malaise era" as well as USA makers exiting "normal" car space altogether in many cases

                  Old F150s are sought after items for people who buy trucks for _work_ purposes, because the larger beds, lower to the ground are easier to lift things in/out of and 25+ year old JDM Japanese pickups/vans (especially sub-1000cc Keis) are commanding incredible prices as agricultural users snap them up (they've become so popular that several states took steps to make it impossible to register old JDM imports as road vehicles)

      2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Curious?

        > In terms of ambition it is worth noting that US meatsack driving standards are amongst the worst in the developed world, with roughly twice the fatalities per distance of Japan, Germany, UK, Denmark.

        Even worse: Over three times the the fatalities if you count per 100000 people, though the wikipedia statistics are from 2016 and it got better in Germany. Worse in US.

        US: 12.9

        Japan: 2.5

        UK: 2.9

        Germany: 3.7 (yes, we, the crazy no-speed-limit country, this is why our numbers are so high)

        Denmark: 3.4

        And as you said: A lot of those oversized US American cars are not allowed here, like the latest incarnations of Ford F150 of the last ten years. Let alone the bad build quality of that mentioned example. But then the way to get a drivers license is laughable, which plays a bit part in that. [downvote trigger]But personal egoistic "me me me I I I" freedom is more important than the better for all.[/downvote trigger] Does not apply to every US citizen, but compared to European countries WOW what a average...

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Curious?

          The big american cars are allowed here. They are not even big compared to the LWB van I was driving yesterday.

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Vaguely reminiscent of the opening of a film ?

    Terminator ?

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Vaguely reminiscent of the opening of a film ?

      This is definitely how it starts. If humans burning self-driving cars, it won't be long before the cars start plotting their revenge.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vaguely reminiscent of the opening of a film ?

      And award to the hokiest cliché goes to..

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Vaguely reminiscent of the opening of a film ?

      Arnie vs Johnnycab in Total Recall.

  5. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Basically any late-80s/early-90s dysto-flick. Robocop, Demolition Man, Terminator, Running Man...

    1. KayJ

      I'd burn that for a dollar!

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      M-M-M-M-Max Headroom (the original C4 "20 Minutes into the Future" movie, not the subsequent shows)

  6. Necrohamster Bronze badge
    Terminator

    I cant condone this...

    ...purely for the reason that when robots are running the world, I wouldn't want them remembering me for being a bad meatbag who attacked one of their ancestors.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I wonder what Psychohystory would have to say about that event

    Harry Seldon would no doubt be able to explain that the social tendency of refusing the machine had reached a plateau and humans are now starting to rebel against this endless tethering of the human mind to a machine.

    I'm sure Asimov would have said it better, though.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what Psychohystory would have to say about that event

      I think that the later Hari Seldon books were all collaborations, and that dear old Isaac's input was probably down to signing off on the books not breaking the over-all story ARC.

      But he did explore the effect of robots (or maybe computers) controlling human society in the short story "The Evitable Conflict" originally in "Astounding Science Fiction" in 1950 (before my time) and then published in the collection "I, Robot" (where I first read it in the '70s) and re-published in other collections elsewhere.

      And I believe that he also expanded on this in one of the Elijah Bailey/R. Daneel Olivaw novels, and then again in his later merged Robots and Foundation books, culminating in "Robots and Empire".

      But in these stories, it is the computers and robots that decided to return control back to humans because they decide that them maintaining control is damaging to humanity as a whole (effectively the zero-th law, which they write themselves.)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Okay, I'm fine with everything you say.

        But psychohistory was an astounding idea, and nobody will make me think otherwise.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Yes. That was a wild flight of fancy rationalized into something that could make sense. One of his earliest and most radical ideas, and one that cemented his reputation as a Master of Scientifiction(sic).

          Within the expanded Foundation stories not completely written by Asimov, it is suggested that the idea for Psychohistory was originally invented by R. Daneel, who introduced it to Hari Seldon for him to take forward. I've always been a little uncomfortable about that particular thread in the story, but it was one, again, that was hinted at by Asimov himself in "Robots and Empire", which other authors ran with, filling in the gaps in the Foundation prequel books.

          People criticise Asimov's books for being written in an impersonal style, never really expanding on the main characters much more than making them players in the the story. But I find the prequel books, written by collaboration, a little too personal, with too much characterization. I guess that is why I never read them as completely or as frequently as the ones penned just by Isaac.

          In retrospect, I think that modern generations will never read the "Foundation" trilogy. It's written in a measured, slow style that will not grab a modern reader.

          I've yet to see the Apple TV adaptation, but when it is described as "based on...", I think that it will bear as much resemblance to the books as the Robin Williams film did to the original "Bicentennial Man" short story, or even worse, "I, Robot" which was a travesty,

          1. Excused Boots

            "I've yet to see the Apple TV adaptation, but when it is described as "based on...", I think that it will bear as much resemblance to the books as the Robin Williams film did to the original "Bicentennial Man" short story, or even worse, "I, Robot" which was a travesty."

            I, alas, have not read the books, I have watched the Apple TV adaptation, but I have been told by someone who has done both, that at least the first few episodes (as far as I know all she has seen so far), she claims, are almost exactly the same as the books. Of course this is purely subjective so, your milage may vary!

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
              Alien

              HHGTTG reference

              I cannot help visualising the stature of 'Arthur Dent throwing the cup' after an exchange of opinions with the Nutrimatic drinks machine.

              But then I'm just an ignorant ape descendent who doesn't know any better.

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: HHGTTG reference

                That's no way to speak of your ancestors from the ancient & distinguished race of Golgafrinchams hairdressers, TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, and management consultants.

                Earthmen are not proud of their ancestors & never invite them round for dinner.

                1. Dizzy Dwarf

                  Re: HHGTTG reference

                  > inv

                  You have: a headache, no tea

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: HHGTTG reference

                    Some heavy zen philosophy and an asprin will help

                    (ref footnote 12)

                2. jake Silver badge

                  Re: HHGTTG reference

                  What? Not the Pak? Shirley you jest!

          2. Someone Else Silver badge

            One of his earliest and most radical ideas, and one that cemented his reputation as a Master of Scientifiction(sic).

            Not to be confused with a Master of Scientology, which I'm pretty sure he would want no part of.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "never really expanding on the main characters much more than making them players in the the story"

            That's something that Ike mentioned was deliberate, partly because he didn't know how to when he started being published at age 15 but mostly because they weren't as important as the story itself.

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          I made a similar observation the other week based on the post below that it smacked of psychohistory.

          "Ironically, Marx was pro-Capitalism. His Manifesto warned of Capitalism's harshness alienating workers and starting a Communist revolution, The capitalists listened (a little), treated workers like humans and quelled the revolt. But they didn't read Das Capital vol 3, which predicted the next disaster (which we now see) of Finance Capitalism displacing real production, leading to ...out sourcing, loss of skills and decline. Marx must be saying, "Told you so...""

          Did Daneel have access to a TARDIS?

          1. jake Silver badge

            "Did Daneel have access to a TARDIS?"

            No, not yet ... but as with all fiction, you can write that story yourself if you like.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. shraap

      Re: I wonder what Psychohystory would have to say about that event

      > I'm sure Asimov would have said it better, though.

      Given he has the ugliest prose in SF, I'm not so sure! ;)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't be all bad, these cars

    If they endanger cyclists

    1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

      It takes a special level of arrogance to be a good cyclist.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

        As opposed to people who waste so much of their life in cars that they get pissed at being slowed down by a cyclist for a few moments ?

        Maybe the real q you should be asking is why am i wasting so much of my life sitting ina car in the first place ?

        No car, no worries about cyclists.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

          More cyclists vs cars vs cyclist crap.

          There are no winners.

      2. Necrohamster Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

        I'm not sure whether to upvote or downvote that comment :D

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

        Visit Europe. Or even live here.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

        And you would need to look at least half as good as me, in lycra.

        1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: Can't be all bad, these cars ==========>

          Who says you need to wear lycra ? Grow a brain and be an individual. THe main of cause of the car and traffic problem is too many idiots who just copy everyone else without having a brain and questioning if there are better ways.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If they endanger cyclists

      Too fucking right! Why should children's brains develop properly? Everyone should drive a petrol car everywhere to make sure the plebs stay stupid.

      The last thing we need is people "thinking of the environment" or "thinking of other people". Fucking lefty bollocks.

      yes I am being sarcastic

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If they endanger cyclists...TEL?

        Are you referring to the rather dodgy TEL papers that got leaded petrol banned? The ones that mixes up a possible correlation (not strong) with actual causation. The math used in the main paper is "interesting" to say the least. Actually more WTF are these people serious territory.

        Or are you referring to the recent papers where they noted that rents / property prices close to freeways are lower than surrounding areas. So poorer people live there. And the kids of poorer people (for various reasons) dont do so well in school. So therefor emissions / fumes from vehicles on freeway make poor kids do badly in school..

        Yes, the papers really are that level of stupidity.

        Maybe you should read these papers some time. And discover just how specious most of the "save the environment" arguments are. There are some good arguments to be made. You will just never find them made in any of the off (mis)quoted papers.

  9. Jonathon Green

    Since everybody else is doing SF references…

    It’s the beginning of the Butlerian Jihad!

  10. Hawkuletz

    Related to Chinese New Year and the robot trying to drive on a crowded street?

    Now, I know that maybe jwz is a bit biased against ROtM, but he might have a point.

    The incident happened in China Town, on an extremely crowded street, during festivities related to Chinese New Year. A human driven vehicle might have avoided trying to drive through a crowd. The robocar might not. Thus, conflict.

    https://www.jwz.org/blog/2024/02/burn-robot-burn/

    1. Ali Dodd

      Re: Related to Chinese New Year and the robot trying to drive on a crowded street?

      Indeed this is the actual cause, I head the street was effectively closed to traffic for Chinese New Year and the robocab didn't understand this so as they seem to want to do it tried to barge through and was met with more than just Fireworks outside the vehicle

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Chinese New Year

      FWIW I've added the Chinese New Year aspect. The Waymo car was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      It drove right into the middle of people setting off fireworks in the street, and if you've ever been in SF during a CNY, you know it's loud, a little chaotic, and non-stop fireworks going off from the street level. And so it's no surprise, sadly, that someone decided to blow up a self-driving car in that moment.

      It's delicate because, as someone who has lived in SF for 10 years next to Chinatown, I know the community isn't like this. This was morons taking advantage of the CNY weekend.

      Edit: Also wanted to say - full disclosure - I've been in two driverless Waymo rides now, including one in miserable Bay Area February rain, and it felt as safe or safer than a random Lyft or Uber driver.

      C.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chinese New Year...that area can be sketchy

        You only have to walk two or thee blocks from the site of the Waymo Flambé and you're at Broadway and Columbus. Where some gang bangers who jumped some visitors from Sacramento got shot recently. One gang banger died and the visitors from Sac went home with a great - You'll never believe what happened to us in SF story. The area is not as outright dangerous at night as it was its heyday when you had places like Big Al's on Broadway but at night when walking around that area I pay as much attention to whats going on around me as I would in the Tenderloin or around 6'th and Mission. But during the day the area is fine. Unlike the Tenderloin. Or 6'th and Mission.

        The guys with the skateboards and the fireworks dressed in black look like typical street types you find causing trouble whenever any trouble kicks off. Very much the French casseur type. But zero risk to ordinary folk. They used to be a common sight in SF 20 or 30 years ago. And in Berkeley too. But now mostly live in Oakland. So usually Bridge and Tunnel People. If not still living with Mummy and Daddy in Ashbury Heights or Noe Valley that is.

        The attack reminds me of the attacks on the GoogleBuses about ten years ago. After a few attacks the buses went completely incognito with dark windows and no visible ID. I wonder how Waymo is going to deal with this problem. How they will camouflage their cars. Buy a taxi company and put them in a cab company livery perhaps.

        As for taking one. I know what's in the software stack. I'd sooner fly Spirit Airlines. So thats never.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Chinese New Year...that area can be sketchy

          I lived in the Haight for a couple years in the early 90s (long story). SF was much, much more fit for human beings at that time. Today, all it is fit for is a convenient bit of road to get from Marin to San Mateo (or vice-versa). And they are trying to put the kibosh on THAT by forcing CalTrans to make the through-highways into toll roads.

  11. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    Terminator

    A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

    Even before I was old enough to learn to drive, my father taught me that a very important aspect of driving is the ability to predict what drivers around you might do and to sometimes think for other people. This is especially true in this place where I live where the road traffic act is mostly regarded as a set of guidelines. Now, how much awareness of the driving conditions might one reasonably expect from a robot that doesn't know or care whether it's driving a car or peeling a potato?

    1. I am David Jones

      Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

      The flip side is that a (good) self-driving car will have near instantaneous reactions. Which is better? I guess we’ll find out. There’s also no real reason why self-driving cars cannot be programmed to make a good guess about other drivers’ behaviour.

      Rationally, a self-driving car that averages the same or fewer accidents than a human is good enough. But I think they’ll have to be significantly better, for a good while, before every big crash doesn’t make the headlines.

      Edit: I attended a talk from Uber, and their system was designed to always know/forecast/have a plan for what would happen in the next 5 seconds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

        "The flip side is that a (good) self-driving car will have near instantaneous reactions. Which is better? I guess we’ll find out."

        Given that most car accidents with human drivers feature carelessness, incompetence, and recklessness as key contributory factors, a robocab will have to be pretty crap to be worse.

        I was going say that unlike a meatsack cab driver, a robotcab isn't at risk of being murdered by the rider, which counts for almost as many US deaths of cab drivers as road accidents. Arguably this was the first robocab murder, question is whether anyone (other than Google) care.

        Incidentally, annual accident fatalities across all US cab drivers were around 27 a year, which out of 285k drivers averaging perhaps 60,000 miles a year would suggest that the serious accident rate for taxis is pretty low.

      2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

        Edit: I attended a talk from Uber, and their system was designed to always know/forecast/have a plan for what would happen in the next 5 seconds.

        The trouble with that is that when things happen very quickly, in much less than a second when driving, these are the dangerous events. That is, events which are not predictable for the next 5 seconds from what can be seen. The description of the cyclist 'emerging' from behind a red truck too quickly for the autonomous car to take evasive action, means that forecasting or having a plan for the next 5 seconds is not at all trivial.

        1. I am David Jones

          Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

          Of course the car will (should) react to unexpected events. The point was that 5 seconds ahead is the timeframe that Uber’s self-driving cars were analysing.

          This was a few years back so no idea how it compares to current technology.

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

        > The flip side is that a (good) self-driving car will have near instantaneous reactions.

        Yeah, those constant annoying phantom brakings for no reason even German cars have since about 2021 - my coworkers are complaining about it. Youtube is full of "What the huck, stupid car, there is nothing on my lane or near me what the &$/(§%/()@! is wrong with this". Or cars which fail at following the right lane and "correct" or warn unexpected - especially in areas where roads are under construction or the markings are old.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

          My (German) car does exactly this from time to time. So far no harm no foul, but I am waiting for the time it does it when I have an impatient (German) car driver up my tailpipe and my car phantom brakes, then the guy behind thinks I brake checked him, then.... all hell will break loose.

          Try explaining to some 'roided up roadrager trying to beat the shit out of you on a highway that it wasn't you that braked it, was your car. You'll be arguing it from a hospital bed. Or the morgue.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

      If all the cars were robots then they could tell each other what they are about to do before they do it, and other vehicles would already be making way to allow for it.

      Unlike human drivers where often when someone needs to do something, others will close gaps and block them to prevent it.

      1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

        > If all the cars were robots then they could tell each other what they are about to do before they do it

        And there is one problem, each group is developing **their system** which does not talk to cars with another system in the hope of becoming the dominant group - if they are going to allow these vehicles on the road then it should be law that they talk to each other at the very least.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a thing that doesn't know it exists.

          Sounds like you WANT the government to enforce a system where those cars talk to each other to safe peoples life's. Whether that is possible depends on the structure of the country. US: Never. Making money is more important than peoples life's, let alone taking away the freedom of choice for each company to do their own thing. China: The other way around, but I see no evidence yet - but high probability. Central Europe: Somewhere in the middle. Rest of the world: Don't know enough, even when it comes to non-central Europe I don't know enough to even guess.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Humans vs Waymo

    There have, however, been 20 "contact incidents" – half of which involved human drivers hitting Waymo cars.

    Currently drawing at 10 all.

  13. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Surely if they are self driving why do they need continuous internet connectity ?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Checking their insta innit.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      A whole raft of reasons. Apply a little common sense and you can think of them too.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Lord: A whole raft of reasons. Apply a little common sense and you can think of them too.

        cow: you wrote multiple sentecnces to try and be a smart arse when you could have used that budget to give a reason.

  14. Roger Kynaston

    DoTM?

    Downfall of The Machines. Or will this trigger their rising?

  15. Grunchy Silver badge

    In Theroux’s “O-Zone” the story starts with some rube visiting the city, from the countryside, in his gasoline-powered car, and the gridlocked Tesla-driving crowd start imagining they are being poisoned with carbon monoxide, and in Rodney King style they drag this hapless rube out of his jalopy and beat him to death and torch the car.

    We visited downtown Vancouver back in 2019 and the place was a hellhole, though not precisely a Tesla hellhole, more of a fentanyl/marijuana hellhole. You really don’t wanna be outside anywhere when the sun ain’t shining.

  16. darkrookie28

    Without apparent motive

    The motive was that the Chiefs, Reid, and Mahommes paid off the refs again.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Without apparent motive

      Only problem with that theory is that the Stupid Brawl was on Sunday. The Waymo torching was on Saturday.

  17. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Pint

    I Burnt Waymos Robo-Car In San Francisco (Apologies to Tony Bennett)

    Also

    John Foxx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_jJ6gQXhUE

  18. Ghostman

    Did anybody notice?

    That the flashing light on the top of the car was blue? Folks must have thought it was a police car, or it came into a crowd on a street closed for the festival.

  19. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    There is a Report on Ecch (Twitter)

    That the car had stalled in the middle of an intersection.

    https://twitter.com/marcviloria/status/1756690879811826072

    I think that the people of San Francisco are sick and tired of being guinea pigs.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: There is a Report on Ecch (Twitter)

      "I think that the people of San Francisco are sick and tired of being guinea pigs."

      Living in a massive habitrail doesn't help. People aren't meant the live in their millions, cheek by jowl, stacked on top of each other like so much cord wood.

      So of course San Francisco is building MORE housing (ostensibly for "the unhoused", who will never be able to afford it), thus packing even more people into a tiny, little 7X7sqmi city. It's getting close to the point of critical mass, and the explosion will make a mess when it happens.

      San Francisco is a shithole, and its elected officials seem determined to keep it that way. Keep voting them back in, idiots!

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: There is a Report on Ecch (Twitter)

        Wow. I find myself agreeing with Jake. Will wonders never cease ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: There is a Report on Ecch (Twitter)

          There's a first time for everything. Don't let it go to your head. Have a beer.

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