AI potpourri: Passenger pickup and suicide prevention

GM just revealed a fully autonomous electric car — and it doesn't have a steering wheel

GM has announced their fourth generation of self-driving vehicles. Note that there is not a single mention of what the passenger is supposed to do in the event that the self-driving algorithm fails!

No driver. No pedals. No steering wheel. Just seats and screens and doors that can close themselves. That’s what riders will see when they get into one of General Motors’ Cruise self-driving electric vehicles, scheduled to hit the road in 2019.




A prominent social scientist, Dr. Peter Hancock aptly stated the following

Today’s new car, a partial robot itself built by robots in an automated factory, may for a time be content to sit in a parking spot and wait for its user’s call. But if people aren’t careful, its fully autonomous cousin may one day drive the joy of driving, or even an entire joy of living, out of human experience.


Would You Send Your Kids To School On A Self-Driving School Bus?

A Seattle-based design firm is working on a six-passenger vehicle picks up and drops off every child at their front door, ensuring their identity with facial recognition.

The vehicle’s AI changes its route based on traffic or other roadblocks, even rejiggering the order in which it drops kids off if, for instance, their parent is running late. And during the rest of the day, each Hannah vehicle can be used to deliver packages, food, or donations, earning school districts extra cash.

But questions remain. Will parents ever trust an autonomous vehicle enough to allow their children to ride in one with no human supervision? And will autonomous technology ever be advanced enough to supervise children, much less cheap enough for school districts to afford? Hannah is a kind of thought experiment: If autonomy is coming to every street, what does getting to school look like?

The researchers at the design firm are also investigating other issues such as how AI will address bullying in buses as well as bringing in extra money to the school by using the bus for food delivery for a service like Uber Eats. 

Canada will track suicide risk through social media with AI

The Canadian government is partnering with an AI firm to predict rises in regional suicide risk. Facebook has also recently launched initiatives to prevent suicides by analyzing posts that suggest suicidal thoughts.

The AI will analyze posts from 160,000 social media accounts and will look for suicide trends.

The AI company aims to be able to predict which areas of Canada might see an increase in suicidal behavior, which according to the contract document includes “ideation (i.e., thoughts), behaviors (i.e., suicide attempts, self-harm, suicide) and communications (i.e., suicidal threats, plans).” With that knowledge, the Canadian government could make sure more mental health resources are in the right places when needed.