A little over two years ago, I attended an event and listened to Brad Templeton speaking about the Google driverless car and how hard it would be for society to adapt to this new method of transportation.
Here’s the transcript.
One of the biggest barriers is that for some unknown reason people don’t like being killed by robots… they’d rather be killed by drunks.
They were actually more afraid of possible injuries and accidents that could come from a robot than they would be afraid of it being done by drunks and other human negligence.
And this is a real thing, there is a real fear, and so when these vehicles, because they will not be perfect, and it would be a serious mistake to set a standard that demands that they’d be perfect, that demands that they’d be as good as elevators. I think that would be a serious mistake because we’re looking, outside, at the second most dangerous consumer product that is allowed to be sold in terms of unintentional deaths. To be more dangerous you’d have to light it on fire and breathe it into your lungs, that’s the most dangerous product.
And this is an effort to take that dangerous product and make it safer, make it kill fewer people. And I think that’s a grand effort and I think it’s an effort on par with even curing polio which killed fewer people than cars as of today.
More people have died in car accidents in the United States than in all the wars in the history of the United States going back to the revolutionary war. It’s an astoundingly huge number and to reduce that number I think is a grand goal, and so I think that the standard of care here should be to do better than that. But if the standard of care is more like an elevator, where perfection is demanded, the technology will never be deployed (or almost never, it would take a very long time), and a lot of people will die in the meantime.