WOW: Paul Manafort Held Meetings With WikiLeaks Founder Assange Before DNC Email Dump

WOW: Paul Manafort Held Meetings With WikiLeaks Founder Assange Before DNC Email Dump November 27, 2018

Oh, Mr. Manafort – You’ve been a naughty monkey, haven’t you?

So on Monday, former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, saw special counsel Robert Mueller’s office charge him with lying to federal investigators after he’d signed a plea agreement, thereby violating that agreement’s terms.

On Tuesday, The Guardian posts a hot story, alleging that mere months before WikiLeaks, the secret-sharing website, posted hacked DNC emails, Manafort paid a visit to the Ecuadorean embassy’s most famous houseguest, Julian Assange.

OH – some “Russians” were noted on the visitor’s log, as well.

Manafort, according to sources, made quite a few trips to see Assange, who is currently fighting extradition, fearing the United States government seeks to bring charges against him.

They do.

Sweden has already dropped the sexual assault and rape charges against him, since either the statute of limitations has run out, or they just don’t see a way to get him back for trial.

Manafort made the trips to see Assange in 2013, 2015, and again 2016 – shortly before he volunteered his services to the Trump campaign, free of charge.

It was an unusual move, considering records show he was in dire straits, financially.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

At this point, nobody expects him to step up and say he was involved.

Honestly, I don’t think anybody is claiming Paul Manafort had anything to do with the actual hacking of John Podesta’s emails. The actual deed was done by Russian intelligence (GRU) agents.

Assange and his outfit, WikiLeaks, have long been considered to be unnamed co-conspirators with the Russian government, which is why the leak of emails hacked by Russians is a key part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into what happened in the 2016 election.

According to two sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March.

Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.

I’m not really sure why what he was wearing matters, but it’s good attention to detail.

Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.

Embassy staff were aware only later of the potential significance of Manafort’s visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.

Of course. They had no way of knowing just how explosive the situation was about to become, but it is to their credit that they did keep account of their guest’s visitors.

One key question is when the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation – and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.

Earlier this year Mueller indicted 12 GRU intelligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016.

In June of that year WikiLeaks emailed the GRU via an intermediary seeking the DNC material. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

Trump and his advocates have repeatedly screamed that there was no collusion, ignoring that Mueller’s investigation is not limited to only collusion, but also obstruction, and any other whiff of wrongdoing that becomes known, along the way.

This, however – it seems kinda collusion-y.

One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential US state department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.

One, out of many maddening things in this age of Trumpism is how Trump’s devotees are now making Julian Assange out to be some kind of folk hero.

That wasn’t the case when he was releasing information that was potentially harmful to our government, as well as troops overseas in 2010.

What changed?

OH – he did something they saw as advantageous to Trump, even though the bulk of his work has been damaging to the nation.

Principles.

In the now infamous Russia dossier, put together by former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, he suggested that Manafort was the pin that connected the Trump campaign and Russian leadership.

In a memo written soon after the DNC emails were published, Steele said: “The [hacking] operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.”

We don’t know that. That’s what Robert Mueller’s team is diligently working to find out.

In fact, there are large parts of Steele’s dossier that remain uncorroborated. This, however, could very well be the start of vindication for Christopher Steele.

We’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • IllinoisPatriot

    Mueller clearly has found some kind of conflict and it appears to have something to do with Trump’s written answers to questions and Manafort’s testimony.

    My guess is that Trump is unable to remember what lies he has told to which people and is now contradicting previous lies he told to either Manafort or Mueller or that Mueller has been able to talk to enough people and has managed to “compare notes” among their stories to find out where Trump has lied / is lying about Russian involvement. I’d guess that If Trump has told 2 or 3 or more variations of his “lack” of Russian involvement with different scapegoats, Mueller can use the similarities as clues to find the real truth……

    I hope Mueller continues his work and (instead of releasing a “final” report as Trump and Trump sycophants are pushing for) releases an interim report sometime this week or early next month. Given Trump’s current level of paranoia and agitation, having Russian aggression / NATO blow up in his face combined with the Saudi revelations, the Chinese digging in their heels on tariffs, now with GM closing factories in Trump country with Ford likely to follow soon, N. Korea openly talking about EMP warfare with the US & others, with the new Mexican President not likely to agree to Trump’s NAFTA and after having “pulled the US out” of the existing trilateral treaty, Trump could be left with no trade treaty, no trade-war “win”, his foreign affairs falling apart, traditional allies deserting him, trade partners unwilling to work with him, a crumbling economy and now potentially having Mueller turn up felonious (dare I say “treasonous” actions of Trump & Campaign “leaders” could do wonders for Trump’s mood. It’s also possible that if Mueller just releases an “interim” report, he could keep his investigation intact until after Jan when the Democrats take control of the HOR in the event there are additional issues he is asked to investigate – likely as preliminary work and fact-gathering for articles of impeachment.

    I don’t think Trump has been able to close a single trade deal as a result of his name-calling, insults and general romper-room antics, so having torn up our existing trade treaties, he has nothing to show other than having made enemies of the EU and raised resistance to US leadership within NATO. I believe Trump is still unwelcome within Great Britain due to popular opposition to his insults. I am also seeing a general (and rising) refusal to cooperate with Trump on the part of Mexico, Canada, and Central/South America as well as the Pacific Rim, Europe and the ME (including Israel) so the chances of Trump improving the status / standing of the US or our trade-based economy before the 2020 elections are not looking good.

    It almost sounds as if Trump’s entire list of administration “successes” is collapsing like the house of cards it has always been. There appears to be a chance the State AGs lawsuit to overturn all of Obamacare may be successful, leaving Trump without a government-controlled health-care law and now Ivanka is in more trouble for her use of personal emails (similar to Hillary’s transgressions), indicating the lawyers are closing in on the Trump family. If Trump feels a noose tightening around his neck, it is well-deserved and overdue based on the damage he has caused to our country and our 3 branches of government (more importantly the trust of voters in the integrity of our government and in fair elections).

  • chemical

    From Susan:

    Manafort made the trips to see Assange in 2013, 2015, and again 2016 – shortly before he volunteered his services to the Trump campaign, free of charge.

    It was an unusual move, considering records show he was in dire straits, financially.

    This came up during his trial, and I know I’ve mentioned this before: Manafort was planning on selling access to Trump to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to pay off his debts with him. This doesn’t surprise me in the least that Manafort would enlist Assange to dig up dirt on Clinton. After all, Manafort needed something to sell to Trump.

    The news these days reads like a bad spy novel — the espionage, drama, and backstabbing are all there, but all the characters are hilariously inept.

  • chemical

    …now with GM closing factories in Trump country with Ford likely to follow soon,

    Originally, I’m from Youngstown, Ohio, and moved to Houston, TX after I got my degree in chemical engineering. My father worked at the GM factory in Lordstown for 30+ years. A lot of the guys working there voted for Trump, and now due to Trump’s trade wars and tariffs, they will all be out of a job soon.

    Re-establishing all those trade deals is going to take a lot of work, and it isn’t going to get done while Trump remains in office. The chickens are finally coming home to roost. I’m worried about what happens when all these trade deals Trump is shredding tanks the economy — typically the government will lower taxes and interest rates to stimulate the economy, but there isn’t any more room for that now.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I’ve recently been watching the 1966 Sci-Fi shows Dr Goldfoot and his Bikini Machine and Dr Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, starring Vincent Price and Fabian. The plot centers around Vincent Price (as Dr Goldfoot) and his machine that makes “girl bombs” (20-something beautiful beach-bombshells in bikinis and other (usually) gold-colored, form-enhancing outfits) to get close to NATO generals, then to blow them up, with Dr Goldfoot’s ultimate goal being to control NATO and rule the world.

    Fabian plays a representative of SIC (Security Intelligence Command – pronounced “sick”) in this comedy farce opposing Dr Goldfoot. The scary part is that Vincent Price plays his megalomaniacal, power-hungry, corrupt, and unscrupulous character more believably than Trump plays the part of US President. Vincent Price’s character is also more believable in his role than Trump is at his rallies, press conferences or public appearances.

    Perhaps if Trump had a way to clone Ivanka, he would be more successful in controlling NATO and then the world than he has been with just his insults and name-calling……

    I will note here for full disclosure that I’m aware Trump attempted to use his Miss Universe collection of girls while in Moscow to tempt Putin and failed and that Trump considers any woman within reach to be his personal property – much like Dr Goldfoot – except that Dr Goldfoot gets much better results from his women than Trump has ever done.

  • chemical

    Now I know where the Austin Powers writers got the fembots idea from.

    Perhaps if Trump had a way to clone Ivanka, he would be more successful in controlling NATO and then the world than he has been with just his insults and name-calling…

    If Trump could clone Ivanka, he’d never leave the house. His story would have been: Born rich, inherited a lot of money, some failed business ventures, had a somewhat successful reality TV show, and then he quietly disappeared. His daughter, Ivanka, checks herself into therapy, and absolutely refuses to talk to the press about her quiet, eccentric billionaire father.

    I will note here for full disclosure that I’m aware Trump attempted to use his Miss Universe collection of girls while in Moscow to tempt Putin and failed…

    …aaaand we’re back to Austin Powers cartoon character antics again. Putin is ex-KGB and has quite a bit of low cunning — he probably felt insulted that Trump tried something this stupid.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    SSSShhhhh !!!!!!!!!! (Trump-level emphasis)

    Trump may have thought that he was being very subtle and manipulative and was likely going to invite Putin backstage at the Miss Universe pageant – whether or not he would have invited Putin into the dressing room or not is unknown but I would not put it past him.

    In Trump’s big brain, what he attempted was considered a stroke of genius – it just looked incredibly stupid and obvious to the rest of the world…. (as does most of what Trump does now-a-days)…

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Yeah but just think how many farmers are going to lose their farms because of their faith in the great orange fraud.

    Why did Trump threaten GM other than because their business decision to close factories might wake up some of his more somnolent supporters ?

    The choice of GM to attempt to push self-driving cars and electrics sounds like an Obama-based decision divorced from reality since self-driving cars have not been proven yet, cannot anticipate bad road conditions, and will only lull drivers into not paying attention when driving conditions become unpredictable, thereby contributing to more highway and town-driving deaths and injuries. As to electrics, GM has not come close to solving their battery/weight issues nor their cold-weather starting nor their battery life-time issues, let alone the limited range of electrics or the re-charging stations required.

    However, since the Obama bailout/union-takeover of GM, (touted as a change in management, but really turning the company over to union bosses), GM’s brand has not improved much and anyone thinking of investing in that company after the shareholders and pensioners lost their shirts under Obama’s gift to the unions and union-backed investors should have their heads examined.

    Add Trump’s trade war and the increase in cost of steel and many Chinese-made parts, the falling economy, and a perfect storm may be brewing of increasing labor demands ($15/hr), increasing costs throughout the supply chain (tariffs), decreasing purchasing power of potential customers, and falling economy (decreasing stock value). Add in loss of overseas and cross-border markets (tariff retribution) and the economic death spiral only gets worse. Will it be enough to drive GM back into bankruptcy ? Tune in next week — same bat-crazy time / same bat-crazy channel….

  • chemical

    The choice of GM to attempt to push self-driving cars and electrics sounds like an Obama-based decision divorced from reality since self-driving cars have not been proven yet, cannot anticipate bad road conditions, and will only lull drivers into not paying attention when driving conditions become unpredictable, thereby contributing to more highway and town-driving deaths and injuries.

    You’re right in that it hasn’t been proven… yet. GM isn’t the only company working on this. The first company to develop a self-driving, electric car that’s actually reliable is going to drive every other auto maker out of business, the same way when the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, it doomed every horse-drawn carriage manufacturer. That’s how big of a deal this is, and it’s going to fundamentally change American life.

    Owning a car costs money. I don’t think I need to argue this point: You pay for gas, insurance, repairs, and licensing, depending on the state. Right now, to get somewhere you need to either own a car or hire a taxi, both of which cost money. It’s not difficult to track how much money it costs you per mile travelled: You total all the money you spend on your vehicle and divide by miles driven. Not difficult, and if you actually work it out you might see it costs $0.15 – $0.30 / mile, depending on your vehicle and where you live.

    With a taxi, most of the cost goes to paying the driver. You still have the car repairs, fuel, and licensing, too.

    Electric vehicles need much less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles, and if you don’t need to pay a driver, then you have an ideal taxi. You really start reaping the benefits of the maintenance costs if you drive the car 250,000 miles or more — you might be able to get the cost per mile driven down to $0.05 / mile or less. This is why these companies are pushing for self-driving electric cars: The first company to do so will sell millions of them to taxi companies (or startups like Uber and Lyft) and people will just use an app to have a robot car take them places. It won’t make sense for the average American to even own a car — why spend $2000/year on fuel, insurance, etc. when you can spend half that on robot taxis? And you don’t even need a huge chunk of change to buy one, because you don’t need to buy one.

    You’ll see this technology in your lifetime. My son is 3 now, and I seriously doubt he will ever get a driver’s license. Self-driving cars are already on the road today (Google uses them), just not for passengers. Basically if the tech improves and the electric car costs come down just a little bit, it will throw the entire auto industry into more of an upheaval than it already is.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    We’ve already seen the first people killed by self-driving cars. You seem to think the bulk of miles driven in the US are by taxies.

    Not having a license only makes sense if you live in a city and never plan to leave the confines of that city in your lifetime.

    Once you exit the reach of subways and mass transit (very limited areas – only in highly-congested areas – you find you need a car to just get from point A to B. People need cars to drive to the grocery store & bring home food. To get to/from work, to vacation, to take kids to school, etc.

    Electric cars do not have the range for any real commuting or travel. They are too heavy to safely drive on ice (too much momentum for most people to handle), and their batteries die after about 2 years – but cost about half or more as much as the car did in the first place. Every 2-3 years you wind up paying for new batteries (and disposal of the old ones) – that’s in addition to the car payments.

    Taxies are not an option outside major cities simply because there are not enough of them and because they cost too much to rent for daily commuting to the next town to get to work.

    There is currently no alternative on the drawing board for people other than the gasoline engine to simply get around outside major cities. Electrics have too limited a range, Cold and hot weather shorten battery life, and the “self-driving” part is a hoax that Silicone valley is trying to play on the public. Having studied the “science”, theories and techniques of “artificial intelligence”, I can tell you that the biggest hoax of self-driving vehicles is that they are only as good as the anticipation of the programmers and that any software that approaches the complexity required for self-driving vehicles is beyond the ability to even the best computer scientists – much less the self-important, boastful egotists of GM or google.

    If you’ve driven cars for any length of time, you will quickly realize that sensors get clouded, mechanical breakdowns occur, and judgement is ALWAYS required in order to drive safely – much more so in congested areas. Your utopia of robot taxies is (in reality) nothing more than a science-fiction pipe-dream and a gigantic waste cash on a bet that is based not on future technology, but on the provably false theories that we have to give up gasoline and oil to save the planet and that somehow, the judgment and foresight of some remote programmer is better than the judgement you would normally and routinely display when in control of your own vehicle on local roads.

  • chemical

    I’m well aware that taxis aren’t really viable in rural areas now, as well as the limitations of current AI tech. I’m not arguing that it’s going to be better. I am arguing that it’s going to be cheaper, and not just a little bit cheaper.

    It will come to pass where owning a car will cost you $2000/year and taking taxis everywhere will cost maybe $300/year or so. Even in rural areas. Ethical issues aside, judgement issues aside, The Almighty Dollar will eventually speak on this issue — the first company to build a self driving electric car will put every other auto maker out of business.

    It may not be taxis, maybe done kind of rental service done via app. You rent a car, and the car drives itself to you and picks you up. After you drive it to where you were going, the car drops itself off at the garage, or drives itself to the next customer. If something breaks on the car, it drives itself to the nearest mechanic, or pulls over and calls a tow truck. All of the convenience of having a car with none of the burden of actually owning one.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I disagree with both with your assertion of any cost savings for renting vs owning a car. We have leased vehicles today. My brother once talked like you do until he sat down and actually calculated the costs in involved in his lease. He quickly found out that leasing (over the long term) vs ownership (again over the long term) was far more expensive. Primarily, renting/leasing involves constant, unchanging monthly payments that (in effect) buy the car for the leasing/rental company and supply the company a profit to boot. If you think that rural residents won’t need a car on a daily basis – particularly a family, you would be wrong on that point as well. Most families need 2 or more cars depending on whether they have teenage children in the family to keep up with after-school events, Dad’s work, Mom’s errands / work, etc.

    Your idea of renting a vehicle costing anywhere over 1000/year less than ownership is pure wishful thinking as the rental / taxi fees are intentionally calculated by the rental / taxi company to pay off the purchase price of the car, all expected maintenance, all operating expenses, and still provide a profit to pay for facilities and employees. No company will provide cars at a lower price than it costs them to purchase/license/maintain/operate the cars.

    I have owned my car for all my life. While it’s true that the initial purchase (I’ve purchased primarily new vehicles) comes with fairly high monthly expenses (I opt for short purchase loans), those expenses cease after the car is paid for, leaving only maintenance, license, registration and repairs. With good care (or even reasonable care), those expenses after 10 years – 5 to purchase, 5 more of virtually no expenses other than gasoline, tires and scheduled maintenance – have recently averaged about $600/year or less in maintenance cost.

    The upshot is that if I were to call for a taxi to get me 50+ miles to work every day (either single direction or round trip), my costs would be MUCH, MUCH higher than the $50 / week I would spend in gasoline.

    All the things you mention are those that are used by leasing companies to try to scare people toward their leases – things my brother quoted to me before he actually sat down and tallied up HIS expenses leasing vs those that had purchased cars.

    I’ll grant you may have a point for people that go to the nearest used-car-lot and buy a junker off the lot based on the word and promises of the salesman – someone with the honest and integrity of Donald Trump. Which is why I prefer to buy new or if used – only from reputable dealers or friends. Knowing the history of the car is important to estimating operating costs.

    Then there your issue of fuel. Electric cars need to charge off electricity. Electricity is THE most expensive utility I pay (and I own my home). In the aggregate, it costs more than property taxes – almost as much as the payments on an automobile that has not been fully paid off. Charging a car every night (if I had to do so) would be prohibitively expensive now. Paying the electric bill when the electric grid is taxed (likely beyond capacity) by an entire town or city plugging in their cars to charge would be an astronomical cost – not to mention the surges, brownouts or actual blackouts as everyone returns home from work and plugs in their cars every evening so it will charge overnight – all around the same time. There’s not enough windmills in the world to supply that kind of electric power – even if the distribution grid did not collapse under the load.

    I live in a small town – still a population of over 35,000 – that’s likely over 10,000 households – many with more than one car + houses, stores, and businesses – all needing electricity – many houses also have electric heat and cooking if not electric fans on their gas furnaces. Now that cold weather has arrived, houses with heat pumps are already driving up electricity demand. Add around 20,000 cars or so charging every night (just a small town) and you may start getting an idea how ridiculous the thought of cheap operation of electric vehicles truly is.

    Obama’s “green energy” mandates have raised the costs of electricity by forcing removal of the cheaper coal-burning power plants. No new nuclear facilities are being built or approved. That leaves natural-gas-fired, hydro-electric (not available to most of the country), or wind/solar as sources of electricity. I don’t believe there is currently any excess capacity for power generation in the country. Building new power plants (even natural-gas) is so fraught with eco-based delays and hoops that few if any new power plants are being built either.

    If your utopia even starts, I anticipate years of brownouts/blackouts / electricity supply disruptions until power plants can request, get approval for, build and bring online more power plants – and a fairly large number of them. This will require capital which always comes from higher customer service rates. The grid would also have to be significantly enhanced – again higher rates. (or people can stay with their cheap gasoline-powered cars – foreign make if GM won’t listen.

    Of course there’s also the issue of trucks – light-duty pickups for local misc hauling up to 18-wheelers for cross-country transportation with heavy-duty pickups for construction and for pulling various types of trailors (businesses, horses, mobile homes, etc). None of these trucks will be powered by electric engines nor has GM ever proposed one to do so. None of these trucks are likely to be self-driving either given that they are often used off-road – circumstances that intentionally violate the entire purpose of “keeping it on the road” or self-driving. I see no proposals to attempt to convert trucks to “rentals” though likely many are currently acquired via lease agreements of some sort.

    You say “…the first company to build a self driving electric car will put every other auto maker out of business. …“. Surely you are aware that self-driving cars have been available for some time now – mostly limited to southwest US (AZ, southern CA, NM) because of the lack of congestion and lack of severe weather (snow/ice/hail/etc) that complicates driving conditions. I believe it was a Tesla car that was involved with the first death from self-driving cars – but I might have that wrong. The FIRST company (Tesla) has not only failed to put everyone else out of business, but appears to be going out of business themselves.

  • captcrisis

    The Democrats now have the House, and can investigate, but what’s the point? We hardly have to investigate. The truth is already out and has been boastfully admitted.

    Imagine Nixon boasting, “Yes, I fired the FBI Director, because he was investigating me!”

  • chemical

    Everything you said here is 99.9% correct, but let me put it to you this way: This isn’t a buy or lease scenario. You said you owned cars for your entire adult life, and you probably think of the amount of cars you owned at any one time was an integer, like 1 car, or 2 cars. Not a floating point number, like 0.742 cars or 1.338 cars, because that wouldn’t make any sense.

    Thing is, if you answer 1 car, you probably don’t need the entire car all the time: You only actually need it to go to work and back, run errands, etc. You’re not in the car all day, every day. So, really, you only need like maybe 0.4 cars.

    Let’s say you have 100 neighbors in your community, and they need 100 cars. If you could pool all of your resources and buy all the cars for everyone, work out a schedule for who gets what cars, etc. you may find that the community can get away with only buying 80 cars, so everyone saves 20% on the cost of their car. Now you’re probably thinking, “Well that’s not going to work because reason X, Y, and Z” and you would be right. But let’s say you did have a way to share the cars.

    Now, let’s pretend I’m wealthy and I want to start a business in your town of 35,000. My business model is I buy 15,000 self-driving cars and everyone in your town rents your cars from me. I scatter my 15,000 cars around your town, give everyone an app that contacts the nearest car, the car drives itself to the person who requested it, then you just leave it anywhere and it finds its way to the next customer, or back to my garages and charging stations when you’re done with it. Each individual in your town saves money because now you only have to pay for 0.4 cars instead of buying whole cars in addition to not having to deal with the hassle of car ownership; I make money when 15,000 self driving cars become cheaper than 35,000 gas powered ones.

    This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds: I live in Houston, TX, Population: 2.3 million. I-10, which runs east-west through Houston, is 12 lanes wide in the middle of the city (that’s 12 lanes for I-10E and another 12 for I-10W). During rush hour I-10 has bumper to bumper traffic, and even then most of the cars in Houston, TX will be parked. As in, not on the roads being driven by people. I moved here in 2009 after Hurricane Rita hit — From what I heard from people who were living here, when Houston was evacuated the cars gridlocked the entire freeway system. The roads to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, etc. were backed up bumper to bumper the entire way, and those cities are 100+ miles from Houston.

    My point is we have so many cars we don’t even remotely have the infrastructure to actually drive them all at the same time. That’s what I mean by putting car manufacturers out of business: Self-driving electric cars can be 3x the cost of regular ones, and a cab or rental company will still turn a profit, simply because they don’t need to buy as many cars as individuals do. The math is already done, now it’s just a race to see who gets to the finish line first.

  • TinnyWhistler

    What I think’ll be interesting is how quickly the insurance market jumps on the self-driving bandwagon. That’ll be what kills the “manual” vehicle: When insurance companies are convinced that the computer is less likely to cause an accident than a human driver, manual vehicles will become prohibitively expensive due to insurance.

  • chemical

    Robots also don’t get drunk or high and then go driving. They don’t get into street races, either. I get Illinois’ argument about putting your life in the hands of a robot, and folks being uncomfortable with that. Worried about robots making bad decisions? Us humans don’t have a terribly great track record, either, with Exhibit #1 being the current POTUS.

    Robots can still drive trucks and cars without human passengers, but if a human is involved then he/she can manually take over the car.

  • John225

    I think you are being overly pessimistic about electric vehicles. Batteries dying after 2 years, please!! Some Tesla’s are inching closer to 400 mile range more than enough for the commute and some travel. Battery power density and energy density are still improving at a good rate. Expect cars to either get lighter or longer range. Possibilities are nowhere near exhausted yet. Getting off oil is only one reason to want electrics. Electrics are comparatively simple machines (mechanically) and we have just begun to explore the performance advantages of increasing sophistication. An electric motor doesn’t deliver only 50% of its maximum torque because its revs are too low, its characteristics are a better match to what is required of it at any given time. Imagine independent all-wheel drive with thrust vectoring for insane handling (on ice also) and off the charts instantaneous power delivery. Like all disruptive tech where it starts is nowhere near where it develops to. Take film photography being supplanted by digital. The first digital cameras had poor resolution and dynamic range that nowhere near matched film and were bulky and clunky using giant floppy discs for storage, now who uses film anymore.

    On self driving cars I’m not so convinced but once again AI is really in its infancy right now. The technology needs to develop more sophistication and that is starting to hit physics limits. Innovation will solve this but progress won’t be linear for a while. This may be a technology that needs a second wave before it can mature like VR. AI could potentially be much more disruptive to society than just self driving cars.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I’ll wait for the numbers to come out first. I believe once automated cars become common, they will start being hacked and people will find the weaknesses in their logic code and I think we’ll see a rise in insurance fraud.

    Think of it like this: MS Windows on PCs is hacked all the time: viruses, root kits, worms and other malware designed to subvert the function of the operating system and/or steal information from the owner of the software.

    Automobile networks have never before had a need to be encrypted (and most are still not encrypted today). Automobiles with power steering/brakes/locks/etc and computerized “entertainment systems” have also had successful “demonstration” hacks where the computer in the car has been hacked and hijacked, giving control over door locks, steering & brakes to the hacker.

    Now imagine the potential for a car that is completely controlled by a computer: Instant battering ram or terrorist weapon: (hacker drives the car at high speed into a storefront or crowd), “untraceable” murder weapon: hacker pulls up beside the victim while driving, hacks the victim’s car and drives it into oncoming traffic), instant gridlock: (people figure out that “self-driving” cars will refuse to move i someone stands in front of them to simulate “obstructions”. that person could be real or a cardboard cutout – if the car is empty at the time, the car is effectively out of action and becomes a traffic obstruction to boot), people figure out how to block or disable “obstruction” sensors and do so on random cars, making the self-driving cars unable to sense the presence of children or other vehicles in their path.

    Over-reliance on automation and attempting to remove human judgement and evaluation from the process of driving is not only short-sighted. It can be dangerous. Unfortunately, there will likely always be those short-sighted foolish individuals that believe more in their technology and wishful thinking than in the wisdom and adaptability of the human brain. There will be those that have seen too many TV shows about “artificial intelligence” and have neither the wisdom nor the knowledge to tell truth from science-fiction fantasy, but are willing to believe and commit the lives of others to the snake-oil pitches of the non-technical CEOs of tech companies when millions or billions of government grant dollars are up for grabs.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    … and when a robotic vehicle is hacked and then used to drive into a crowd or to block an interstate / destroy a bridge ?

    Then what ? When humans get drunk and hurt someone, at least it’s a one-off situation – that person (if he/she survived the incident) can only cause a relative handful of more injuries before being caught and imprisoned or corrective action taken.

    When a robotic car is involved in a fatality, those same conditions can be replicated by all (what? 200,000 ? – million ?) of identical cars that are on the roads with unpatched software.

    Industry “experts” today in Microsoft, Apple, & other companies are unable to keep their operating systems free from hackers that can gain control of the OS and effectively hijack the OS for their own purposes (remotely activating Apple cameras, creating bot-nets, etc).

    What assurances do we have that these same “best engineers in the world” will be able to secure the operating systems of robotic cars from the hackers of the world ? What assurances do we have that when an exploit is discovered in say a “GM Driverless” model vehicle that GM will make it a top priority to insure that all previous models of their Driverless receive and apply a patch that they have scrambled to create and deploy ? The same level of effort they went to in hiding deploying their fixes for faulty air bags ? (10 years of ignoring the problem they knew about). Will GM be responsible for any deaths caused by their Driverless vehicles ? If not, what incentives do they have to insure the public safety ?

    Robots driving ANYTHING are unwise dangers being added to our streets & highways since robots have no judgement, no intuition and no ability to anticipate the unexpected (deer jumping in front of vehicles or children / pets running into the street from behind parked cars). Robots will likely only add to congestion because their rigid logic is unable to function when rules change. If power is out and streetlights are not working, will driverless cars obey the laws and treat each powered-down streetlights as a 4-way stop ? When streetlights change from daylight operation to flashing-red (stop sign) at night, will driverless cars comply ? Do driverless cars recognize restrictions like “no turn on red” or “yield to pedestrians in walkway” around hospitals or will the GM Driverless just mow down hospital patients crossing the street at posted speed limit because it cannot sense or anticipate the walkway ?

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Funny you mention VR. I’m still waiting for some truly useful VR technology or application that could not have been done just as well with screens or simulators (VR is not the same as a flight simulator for instance).

    VR may well be in its “infancy” for the next 100 or 1000 years. Same with AI. Neither should be implemented as production technologies until they are proven as mature and reliable technologies.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I’m going off the reports I’ve heard about electric vehicles in general. “Some Teslas” are not really significant since Tesla is going / has gone bankrupt last I heard.

    How about GM electrics ? How are THEIR batteries lasting ? (2-3 yrs as I recall).

    You can cherry-pick vendors for this or for that feature, but Tesla’s track record is hardly a stellar one (Tesla is too expensive for most people to own and would be cost-prohibitive if not for massive government subsidies on every purchase.

    When you can tell me that the battery weight/power issues as well as cabin space issues are resolved in electric cars the average person can afford, you MAY have some credibility. When you can tell me that the Chevy Volt (the one that spontaneously caught fire due to battery issues) was NOT touted as “state-of-the-art” or that wrecks involving electric cars are NOT now considered HAZMAT areas because of the battery acid and noxious / poisonous gasses released by the batteries, you MIGHT have an argument for buying such a car if you have young kids or teenage drivers.

    An all electric with a less-than 400 mile range is not significantly different from one with a 300 mile range unless the car is to be used only for in-city driving. Since the extra 100 miles represents only about an extra 1.5 hrs driving time there’s no significant difference to limited range. Gasoline-powered cars today now see ranges in excess of 400 miles. The difference is that when a gasoline-powered car has expended its range, you can pull into a gas station, refuel and be on your way again within about 1/2 hr. With an all-electric, you have to wait hours for the batteries to recharge (if you can even find recharging station in the first place).

    I don’t think my reservations are at all misplaced. Both the risks and costs of owning / driving gasoline-powered cars is far less than those of electrics and I don’t see the all-electric cars ever being able to overcome the laws of physics and economics that make that statement true. Government interference in the market is already costing taxpayers thousands of dollars for every Tesla sold and likewise several thousand dollars for every GM electric sold. Many of those that have bought the electrics have publicly expressed their regret because of the issues I highlighted above.

    Electric cars might be “neat”, “cool”, or “trendy”, but they are not practical for day-to-day use in the real world. You cannot use one to drive to vacation spots outside their limited range. They take hours instead of minutes to “refuel” (recharge). Recharge stations are not readily available, and you cannot obtain a 5-gallon can of “emergency electricity” should your batteries die while on the highway. If the batteries get shorted or damaged, they have been known to give off hydrogen gas (which is explosive) and chlorine gas (which is toxic) into the cabin.

    Electric cars are simply not as cost-effectve or as safe and efficient as gasoline-powered vehicles. I don’t see that changing in my lifetime.

  • John225

    The 2-3 year myth is born out of the erroneous association of EV battery life with phone battery life. Last time EV’s had a 2-3 year battery life was when they used lead acid batteries a couple of decades ago. Modern EV batteries should last 8 years or more. The lithium ion batteries don’t normally suffer from sudden death. That is a lead acid battery mode of failure. Lithium ion batteries suffer from capacity degradation. Nissan leaf batteries suffered from accelerated deterioration in hot climates. Calendar life expectancy drops to 5 years in Arizona but is more like 8-9 years in colder regions. Chevy Volt batteries reportedly have better durability than Leaf’s. Tesla batteries should be good for more than 500,000 miles depending on how they are used.

    Tesla isn’t bankrupt, came close during Model 3 pre-production development but is now as far as I know cash flow positive. The $7500 tax rebate for Tesla has already halved and will halve again around the middle of next year. This incentive will go away on its own without intervention.

    For vehicles designed as EV’s there are no cabin space issues. An electric drive train is far more compact and light weight than a conventional drive train and batteries can be installed in a 3” thin slab under the floor, which gives the car a very low center of gravity, which does wonders for vehicle dynamics. The weight of the vehicles doesn’t really pose a problem Tesla’s 85kWh pack is about 1200lb but you must remember that the electric drive train is considerably lighter than conventional offsetting the weight some. With an electric car the running costs and servicing costs are much lower so from an affordability perspective total cost of ownership is what should be considered.

    Lithium batteries don’t contain liquid electrolytes and certainly not acid and a lot of things emit toxic fumes when you set them on fire. You need to get past the lead acid era.

    400 mile range allows me to drive about 7 hours before needing a recharge. For a work commuter vehicle, I NEVER need to drive 3.5 hours to get to work and I could get to A LOT of vacation spots in 7 hours. Rapid charging can get you to 80% charge in half an hour.

    Government interference in the market has allowed America to produce the best EV’s on the planet and be years ahead of the competition with an enduring advantage. Economies of scale changes the economics somewhat.

    Where do you get hydrogen gas from? Lithium ion batteries don’t evolve hydrogen, lead acid batteries do during recharge. Lithium batteries don’t emit chlorine gas. May be if you set fire to one you might get some fluorine from the decomposition of the separator. Burning plastics emits toxic fumes, who knew that. You know petrol cars sometime burst into flames after an accident to.

  • John225

    The 2-3 year myth is born out of the erroneous association of EV battery life with phone battery life. Last time EV’s had a 2-3 year battery life was when they used lead acid batteries a couple of decades ago. Modern EV batteries should last 8 years or more. The lithium ion batteries don’t normally suffer from sudden death. That is a lead acid battery mode of failure. Lithium ion batteries suffer from capacity degradation over time and use. Nissan leaf batteries suffered from accelerated deterioration in hot climates. Calendar life conservatively drops to 5 years in Phoenix Arizona (75%+ range) but is more like 10 years (70% range) in colder regions. Chevy Volt batteries reportedly have better durability than Leaf’s.

    Tesla isn’t bankrupt, it came close during Model 3 production ramp but is now as far as I know cash flow positive. The $7500 tax credit for GM must be close to triggering the 200,000-vehicle threshold for its phasing out. This incentive will go away on its own without intervention.

    For vehicles designed as EV’s there are no cabin space issues. An electric drive train is far more compact and light weight than a conventional drive train and batteries can be installed under the floor, which gives the car a very low center of gravity, which does wonders for vehicle dynamics. The weight of the vehicles doesn’t really pose a problem. The Bolt’s 57kWh pack is about 960lb but you must remember that the electric drive train is considerably lighter than conventional offsetting the battery weight. The energy density by weight of Lithium ion batteries is at least five times that of lead acid batteries. With an electric car the running costs (about 30-50%) and servicing costs are much lower so from an affordability perspective total cost of ownership is what should be considered. When EV’s cost becomes similar to conventional cars to purchase they will be cheaper over the lifespan of the car.

    Lithium batteries don’t contain liquid electrolytes and certainly not acid and a lot of things emit toxic fumes when you set them on fire. You need to get past the lead acid EV era.

    A 300-mile range would allow me to drive about 5 hours before needing a recharge. For a work commuter vehicle, I NEVER need to drive 2.5 hours to get to work and I could get to A LOT of vacation spots in 5 hours. Rapid charging can get you to 80% charge in half an hour.

    Government interference in the market has allowed America to produce some of the best EV’s in the world and be years ahead of the competition with an enduring competitive advantage. Economies of scale changes the economics somewhat making an economic justification much easier. GM floated the idea of a hybrid version of the EV1 back in the mid 90’s but didn’t build it. Toyota developed the Prius to compete with it and did build it. Now Toyota has sold over 10 million hybrids and GM (and the rest) is still playing catch up.

    Where do you get hydrogen gas from? Lithium ion batteries don’t evolve hydrogen, lead acid batteries do during recharge. Lithium batteries don’t emit chlorine gas. May be if you set fire to one you might get some fluorine from the decomposition of the electrode separator. Burning plastics emits toxic fumes, who knew. You know petrol cars sometime burst into flames after an accident to.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I think it’ll be even more interesting to see how fast insurance companies jump OFF the self-driving bandwagon once they find out how easy it will be to hijack those self-driving cars or to find the cracks that are inevitably in complex logic that get people killed or maimed. Especially if the car can be “tricked” into taking some action that gets someone killed/maimed: like MS-Windows, the first car that exposes the “bug” just opens the door for tons of insurance claims against all the other cars of similar make and model.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    As a computer scientist, well aware of the current state-of-the-art in both programming and cyber-security, I see no reason for the rosy-eyed, wishful-thinking that believes self-driving cars will EVER be as safe once humans are taken out of the loop – just like military vehicles or military robots, cars can easily be made into dangerous weapons once humans are taken out of the loop — especially for terrorist applications.

  • John225

    I would agree with most of that I just wont say never. The problem is such things are now almost inevitable to come into existance.