I’m sitting in the back of a Waymo self-driving Chrysler Pacifica parked on the side of a road inside Castle, a former air force base in central California which was leased in 2012 by the company then known simply as Google.

On the beige headliner, behind the traditional driver’s seat, is a black rectangular panel and a series of four uniform buttons. My eye is drawn to the only bright blue button on the far right labeled “start ride.” I push it and a few seconds later the the minivan pulls out onto the road.

The Pacifica is programmed by Waymo to operate at low speeds, but it’s moving at pace that is more than a slow crawl. We maneuver around cyclists, a couple of pedestrians, and a crestfallen man standing next to a…

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