If you live in the United States, then you have likely thought about self-driving cars at some point. You may have even seen some of them driving around town, so far they’re pretty easy to spot. While many are excited about the prospect of never having to drive again, many more are concerned about the repercussions of allowing self-driving cars free reign of the roads. Of course, the main concern for self-driving cars usually revolves around how they react in the case of a collision. The makers of self-driving vehicles have a message for the rest of us: don’t worry, you’re just the crossing the street wrong.
While this may seem like a ridiculous statement at first, it makes sense when you dig a little deeper. The point isn’t that you need to start walking backwards or something ridiculous when crossing the street, the point is you need to cross the street on a sidewalk, when you’re supposed to. It’s the unpredictability of man that makes it so difficult for machines to predict their movements.
Andrew Ng, a well-known machine learning researcher who runs a venture fund that invests in AI-enabled companies, spoke with the Insurance Journal about this subject. “What we tell people is, ‘Please be lawful and please be considerate,’” said Andrew. What that translates too, is play by the rules—don’t jaywalk, don’t cross when you don’t have the signal.
This makes sense when you think about the way computer’s work. As lifelike as a program may seem, it’s still operating on a system of rules. If people are breaking the rules that a program is looking for, it doesn’t have a human’s ability to problem solve. This is the unique challenge self-driving car creators are facing.
Self-driving car makers think the solution is training people to pay better attention to the laws surrounding crossing the street. While many people think that this is just a prime example of why self-driving car technology is not ready for the main market. The reality is that the best solution is a bit of both of those points of view. People need to know they can’t just step into the street and expect someone to react in time, and self-driving technology needs to improve from the state it’s in now. Self-driving cars are coming to the mainstream, now it’s only a question of when.