fuck waymo and fuck how the media writes about it

Near the very end of this piece is the line: “Tens of thousands of humans could lose jobs in the future — from taxi to truck drivers.”

That is called burying the lede.

When you read stories about Waymo and other robot cars bum rushing the show, watch how good journalists and reputable media outlets treat these bots and their alleged inevitably in away that is so much different than how they write about ChatGPT being tested by Sports Illustrated, Gannet, and LAist
It’s the Same exact thing, except this bot isn’t coming for their job, it’s coming for the struggling middle class gig workers grinding at all hours of the day and night to make ends meet. So it’s ok. And cute.

And “omg my backseat driving reflex is on high alert.”

While readers are thankful for all the details about how terrible these cars have rolled out onto the streets – smashing into people and property, clogging narrow streets of Frisco when they malfunction – and learn how the politicians claim to be concerned but magically these vehicles have appeared without any public consent, something’s missing in the narrative.

Namely how the humans who take these journalists to lunch and work and from LAX in the rain and to LAX in the dark – are being fucked by two new foes: lawmakers and now the press.

It took decades of voting and red tape and hand wringing to finally get first medical and then recreational marijuana in California – and we still can’t smoke a joint in a park or on the sidewalk. Meanwhile many cities have refused to listen to the voice of the people and have outlawed the sale of the Devil’s cabbage in their precious burb.

But robot cars on the streets? NBD? Get used to it? That’s the tone from every news outlet on TV, print and online. “Look everyone the rides are free this month!”

As great journos like Jon Healey, Ben Welsh, and Michelle Maltais and others are well aware, ChatGPT in online news is 1,000% easier to pull off than robot taxis.

Given a fraction of the seed money Waymo and the others have received even a dope like me could lead a team to create bots that could spit out “news” with precision SEO, tantalizing copyright free AI art to go with every story, and corresponding social media posts effortlessly deployed at the exact time the algo says they should be published.

But when the media writes about *their* precarious jobs being targeted by zeros and ones the tone is far more dark and far less giddy.

The entire entertainment industry went on strike less than a year ago over the fear of AI and ChatGPT replacing extras and screenwriters and the media supported that industry, their strike, and their cause.

That same media quietly cheered when SI folded shortly after it was revealed that they had been partnering with a startup built solely to replace human journalists with bots.

But robot taxis replacing humans and our Priuses? A yawn louder than a typical reaction from a Plaschke column.

The LA Times needs a regular rideshare column to bring home the human damage this technology can’t wait to sink its teeth into. A column where a not-so-humble driver takes fellow humans around this vast city and has human interactions with them and reports back who Angelenos truly are and shares examples of ways bots could never replace souls.

Yesterday I picked up a woman who needed to go from Mid City to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital because she had a mild stroke and didn’t want to call an ambulance because she feared it would only take her to Cedars and she hated how long the wait at the ER was.

So when I arrived she begged me to come around to the alley to get her because walking was difficult. When we realized the back gate had accidently closed and locked, she had me walk all around the giant building to the front area and meet her at her apartment where I was asked to hold her as she gently made her way down her rickety staircase.

She smelled of urine. She was shaking. She yelled out a few times terrified she was going to fall. You’re not going to fall I assured her. I am right here.

When we made it across town she asked me to get her a wheelchair and help her out of the car and into the waiting room. Which I gladly did. Of course. This woman was younger than my mother.

There are things robots are great at. And there are some things the human touch is ideal for.

Carrying Angelenos around this beautiful town isn’t for everyone. And it sure as hell isn’t the place for an untested bot in 2024. Unless you want to find a safe space to light up, piss or puke.

Three things I do every time I read these curious stories in my favorite paper.