June 2, 2018

LESS LETHAL, NOT NON:

Self-driving cars will kill people and we need to accept that (JAYSON DEMERS, 6/02/18, The Verge)

First, we need to recognize that no matter what safeguards we put in place or how cautious we are with rolling out self-driving technology, autonomous vehicles are going to be involved in fatal collisions.

There are 325 million people in the United States and more than 260 million registered vehicles. Cars and pedestrians are constantly engaging in a world with random variables, from unexpected traffic patterns to crazy weather conditions to sudden falling objects obstructing the road. With a fleet of vehicles traveling millions of miles, it's inevitable that some conditions could make an accident unavoidable--no matter how advanced the driving algorithm is.

No matter what, people are going to die at the "hands" of an autonomous vehicle.

Next, we need to acknowledge just how bad human drivers are at controlling their own vehicles - and how they compare to autonomous vehicles. In 2016, there were 40,200 vehicular fatalities just in the United States. A Stanford review found that 90 percent of accidents are caused, at least in part, by human error, whether that's overcorrecting, falling prey to a distraction, or drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Some quick math tells you that's 36,180 lives that were lost because a human behind the wheel of a car made a mistake, with similar numbers year over year.

Despite this, our standards for human testing are incredibly lax. Anyone can get a driver's license, and the majority of the United States population either drives or rides in a car on a regular basis--even though your odds of dying in a car accident over a lifetime are something like 1 in 114, which is relatively high. Autonomous vehicles may actually already be capable of transporting us more safely than comparable human drivers.

Posted by at June 2, 2018 6:15 PM

  

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