14 Thinking Probabilistically

In 2018, an Uber self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It was the first fatal accident of a car designed for autonomous driving. The car, it was claimed, saw the pedestrian but did not brake. News reports quoted a Princeton University professor saying that it “should be a warning to all companies testing autonomous vehicles to check their systems to make sure they automatically stop when necessary.”1 On the day of the accident, the Tempe chief of police had a different explanation: “It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision based on how she came from the shadows.”2

Did Uber really program its vehicle to kill? Of course not. But it also isn’t right that ...

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