Blows Against the Algorithmic Empire - Safe Street Rebels
Artificial Intelligence is all the rage these days in the legacy press. Networks have been beating the AI warning drums... keeping a low but steady pressure of angst and fear in the viewing public's consciousness. Not a day goes by where there isn't a new warning of how AI is affecting our lives and soon will control our lives.
And the AI buzz is creepy... what with deep fakes and clever chat bots. The alleged threat was concerning enough to get the SAG-AFTRA union to go on the longest strike in that guild's history. It seems that Hollywood actors don't want to lose their jobs to some rascally and devilishly handsome AI actorbot.
Hype aside, the myriad forms of AI are becoming intrusive enough in all our daily lives. Everything from social media to electronic finance is being impacted. I go into detail on the dark origins and downright bizarre aspects of Artificial Intelligence... especially its link to blockchain technology... in my upcoming new book... "Brave Noö World - A Guerilla Ethnography of High Strangeness" ...hitting bookstores this winter.
One particular aspect of AI intrusiveness that is worth keeping an eye on is the rise of autonomous vehicles. Everything from pizza delivering drones to unmanned military assault vehicles continues to develop at an alarming, exponential rate. Self driving cars of course have been the fodder of science fiction for decades. Now they are hitting the streets.
Cruise and Waymo robotaxis have until quite recently been navigating the streets of San Francisco, California. Imagine climbing into a taxi in SF and finding Johnny Cab smiling at you... asking where can I take you tonight?
In fine disruptive-insurgent, MindF#@k fashion, a group of street theater protests have risen on the streets of San Francisco to counter the rascally johnny cabs that infest the Bay Area. Loosely affiliated under the name of Safe Street Rebel, protestors have discovered an ingenious, low-tech way of countering the autonomous taxis. Their tactics have been amazingly effective.
In an excerpt from the article by Kari Paul of the The Guardian...
In the shadows of San Francisco's lower Haight neighborhood's Duboce park, eight activists have gathered, bikes in hand. Their mission: to disable as many self-driving cars on the streets of the city as possible over the course of the next few hours. Their weapon of choice? A simple traffic cone, nicked from sidewalks and construction sites as they bike along.
The meet-up has been coordinated by the anti-car activist group Safe Street Rebel, which in recent months has waged a war on the self-driving cars that have dotted San Francisco’s streets since 2022. The group’s actions have been the subject of news articles and videos of their efforts, including detailed instructions on how supporters can disable the cars themselves, have gone viral on TikTok and Twit-X (formally Twitter).
The origins of the group’s tactics are murky, but at some point it was discovered that placing a cone on the hood of a self-driving car puts it into panic mode, shutting down the $50,000 vehicle until a human employee can come in person to get it unstuck.
A recent DMV ruling has given the Safe Street Rebel collective a well-earned victory. On October 24th, the California Department of Motor Vehicles said it had immediately suspended Cruise’s deployment and driverless testing permits, ending the GM self-driving car subsidiary’s robotaxi operations in San Francisco just months after receiving the last necessary permit to commercialize its operations.