Let’s Please Calm Down For a Few Days Over the Uber Car Crash

Laura Dale/PA Wire via ZUMA

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Driverless cars are equipped with video, lidar, radar, sonar, and probably every other “ar” that exists. I assume this means that we will soon have massive amounts of evidence about what happened with the Uber car that killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Because of this, I’m willing to wait a few days before getting too hysterical about the whole thing, and I’d recommend everyone else do the same thing. But that means Uber better release some of this stuff pretty quickly. They’re going to have to do it in court anyway, so why not now?

And while we’re on the subject, an awful lot of people seem to think that we’re now in terra incognita over the question of who’s at fault. What if it’s just an algorithm on a chip? Sue the chip? ZOMG!

So I would like to personally assure everyone that this kind of thing has been adjudicated ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. A driverless car is just a machine. It is owned by someone and insured by someone. If subcontractors are responsible for software development, they have contracts in place that apportion responsibility. If the contracts aren’t clear, a court will decide who’s at fault. Ditto for the safety driver. There is nothing new or unusual about any of this, so can everyone please stand down on the allegedly unprecedented legal mess we’re all about to embark on?

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