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

Laura Dale/PA Wire via ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

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?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend