So an autonomous Uber crashed in to a lady in Arizona at around 40 mph. Without apparently slowing. Tragically she died.
The following article is me trying to give my perspective on a world where autonomous cars are in the majority.
You are walking next to a busy road in your local town. And over half the vehicles are autonomous
You have heavy pieces of metal moving around at high speed, without human control, with zero compassion, controlled completely by complex computer systems.
To me, that is a terrifying thought.
Sure the deadly pieces of metal moving around at high speed is big potential issue.
Zero compassion is less of an issue, (I don’t think an autonomous car is going to deliberately crash in to people).
Complex computer system is also a big worry
What will crashes look like?
Generally, when a computer fails, it is not a little problem, its catastrophic ie the system stops working totally, the computer crashes.
What would a computer crash in an autonomous car look like?
1.The car continues as normal and does not stop, for anything – Terrifying.
2.The car slows down quickly. And continues its present course – Terrifying.
What other options are there?
The system has stopped working, it is no longer able to react to its surroundings. The fail safe measures have to be extremely basic. No course alteration, its either going to stop or it isn’t.
Most of us use complex computers on a daily basis.
What is your experience of their reliability?
Generally you have to drive for over 200 years to be involved in an accident that causes an injury, not a death, an injury.
Assuming an accident occurs when a human has the computer equivalent of a “computer crash”, when was the last time you used any computer system that crashed on average every 200 years?
The autonomous car advocates like to say people are dangerous
The like to say computers are safer then humans but on what evidence?
Has anyone ever used a computer that is as reliable as a human?
ie a computer system that on average only suffers an issue every 200+ years?
In short, do I want be surrounded by heavy metal objects moving around at high speed which are controlled by computers or humans?
The computer option reminds me of this
Honestly I think the forces pushing for autonomous cars will win out.
Accidents are going to increase but not to the point where people are seeing them everywhere.
Accidents are a super rare occurrence with humans at the wheel
There will be more crashes with computers but accidents will still be a rare occurrence, most people will never see one
So it wont be an issue on people’s minds
And if the statistics show accidents are more prevalent with autonomous cars the narrative is going to be something like “well emission are less with autonomous cars“, “congestion is less with autonomous car“, some line which will be used to justify the existence of autonomous cars and the higher fatality rate even if “the line” is untrue.