Shoulda been a tweet (but twitter sux): Tuskegee

Idly scrolling through the interwebs and wasting one’s precious moments can suddenly run smack dab into JFC WTF.

I saw an article about Dr. Fauci offering his thoughts on why the black community is suffering more than others from COVID-19. Fauci mentioned several things, including distrust resulting from the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. I’d heard of it but, embarrassed to admit, I’d forgotten the details. Jesus Fucking Christ. People can be horrible to one another. How did these doctors live with themselves?

It made me think of the people working on the robotic, driverless vehicles. No, not an obvious connection, but synapses and shit. It sounds good, and it might very well reduce fatalities. But their backroom discussions must be similar to the Tuskegee experiment, mutually assured destruction, and atomic bomb testing.

Ok, so we have a wealthy 70 year old CEO in the back seat of a Mercedes. Three 10 year old kids run into the street chasing a ball. The CEO’s net worth is Croesus level. He has a 6.2% stake in the manufacturer of this vehicle. Elom thinks he’s an asshole, but he enjoys the invites to the Yellowstone Club. Elom knows 7 people in this neighborhood and gives a shit about 2 of them. Braking will kill 2 of the kids. Swerving to the left will result in a head on collision with a 7 Series BMW. Danger danger, very costly Swerving to the right will save the kids but means a 60% chance that the CEO dies.

We’re in the X275X zip code neighborhood. The median income is $122,000. A lot of lawyers live in this neighborhood. The community is politically active. A local army of Karens protested a wind farm five miles away. They hired a bird expert to talk about bird deaths. They all have AirBnBs in the adjacent mountain resort town. Their ornithological social media posts increased by 1762.1% after the launch of the wind farm proposal. These Karens suddenly love birds.

The kids obviously did something dumb. They ran into the road is completely understandable. Decision – don’t swerve. Brake, even though it’s futile. Send the video showing the kids running into the street out of nowhere to lawyers and PR. If passenger shows emotion, include that, too.

Who writes those algorithms? Who gets to shape the coding? I don’t think the technology is the obstacle standing between us and driverless vehicles. It’s the policy. Who do you sue when a driverless vehicle kills 5 kids on bikes? Was the car programmed to do everything it could to save Bezos’s life?

I’ve got a bunch of scribbled notes in a journal somewhere with ideas for a short story along these lines. I doubt I can find the notebook or read the chicken scratch. But if one of the five people who reads this blog writes an incredible book or study on that – 1) Good on ya 2) You’d better treat me to a good meal. I mean hell, it’s a 21st century Bonfire of the Vanities. Shit, I probably should write something. Do blog posts count as copyrights or intellectual property? A tweeter’s the same thing as a copright, right?