Humans are to blame for crashes – autonomous cars won't fix that

If one can attribute human errors to scenes like this, where do advocates of the 94% statistic think blame for crashes no longer caused by drivers should go?

A BBC headline from last month read “NHS computer issues linked to patient harm”, but it isn’t the computers that are the root problem, it’s the people who designed it and used it. 

You can’t blame computer systems for the Post Office Horizon IT scandal: it was the people behind it, many of whom we’ve still never heard apologise.

And what worries me is that as automation increases, accountability decreases. If I drive into you, the law can find me easily responsible, you can look me in the eye, I can look back at you and I can say “I’m sorry”. 

If my car crashes into you, even if automation makes that event much, much less likely, it will still ultimately be somebody’s fault, but who knows whose? Who apologises? Who holds the system accountable?

We’re talking about potential injury, life-changing physical and mental harm, death and grief. At the moment, too much of it. 

Automation should (and, thanks to stability control, ABS, airbags and more, already does) reduce the amount, but given personal accountability inevitably reduces alongside it, finding an ‘acceptable’ level of automated collisions – and casualties – is very difficult.

At the moment, people are at the wheel and people are ultimately responsible. If we’re not, even the wrongly advocated 94% reduction in collisions wouldn’t be enough.

We tolerate people making mistakes because we’re human. We have the capacity for remorse and forgiveness. Without those, the bar is zero harm.

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