M2M Day 208: Would you “risk” your life in a self-driving car?

This post is part of Month to Master, a 12-month accelerated learning project. For May, my goal is to build the software part of a self-driving car.

During this month, as I’ve tried to undercover the mysteries of self-driving cars, I’ve received one question more than any other: Now that you have a better understanding of the technology, do you feel more or less safe entering a fully self-driving car?

I would say safer, but it’s complicated: The simplicity of the self-driving car model gives me confidence that, with more data and processing power, the self-driving capabilities will continue to get exponentially better. However, the irrational part of my brain feels weird with the fact that the model is so simple and unspecific to the task of driving.

Nevertheless, the simpler the model, the more generalizable and trainable it is, so I feel pretty safe about the prospect of fully autonomous cars (Well, I feel safe writing that I feel safe. Actually put me in the car, and see if I change my tune…).

One common question I hear in response to my general comfortability is: “Wouldn’t you rather be in control of your life? Even if it’s statistically safer on a whole to use a fully autonomous car, wouldn’t you want to know that you did everything you personally could to keep yourself alive?”

Sort of. But, truthfully, since I don’t own a car, and already trust strangers (Uber/Lyft drivers) with my life, I’m not sure I currently have that control anyway.

As a short addendum: Two days ago, MIT published its yearly research paper on the current state of consumer interest in self-driving cars, and 48% of the 3,000 participants of the study said that they would never purchase a car that completely drives itself.

Not only that, but, last year, 40% of 25–34 year-olds said that they would be comfortable with a fully driverless car, and yet, only 20% of the same group said the same this year.

It’s interesting to see that, as the general public learns more about self-driving cars, their comfortability is waning.

Honestly, after reading the MIT paper, I might agree with the general public (at least, as of today… But, I’m still pretty optimistic).

Read the next post. Read the previous post.

Max Deutsch is an obsessive learner, product builder, guinea pig for Month to Master, and founder at Openmind.

If you want to follow along with Max’s year-long accelerated learning project, make sure to follow this Medium account.