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Shawn Hack
217 followers -
Software Developer, Transhumanist
Software Developer, Transhumanist

217 followers
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We announced our self-driving car project in 2010 (http://goo.gl/dI6qA) with a clear goal: make driving safer, more enjoyable and more efficient.

There’s much left to design and test, but we’ve now safely completed more than 200,000 miles of computer-led driving, gathering great experiences and an overwhelming number of enthusiastic supporters.

We wanted to share one of our favorite moments from some special research we conducted. Watch this video of Steve, who joined us for a drive on a carefully programmed route to experience being behind the wheel in a whole new way. We organized this test as a technical experiment outside of our core research efforts, but we think it’s also a promising look at what this kind of technology may one day deliver for society if rigorous technical and safety standards can be met.

A version of this video with audio captions is available here: http://goo.gl/k5K9Q

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A risk-perception: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

"Humans have a hell of a time accurately gauging risk. Not only do we have two different systems—logic and instinct, or the head and the gut—that sometimes give us conflicting advice, but we are also at the mercy of deep-seated emotional associations and mental shortcuts. (…)

Our hardwired gut reactions developed in a world full of hungry beasts and warring clans, where they served important functions. Letting the amygdala (part of the brain’s emotional core) take over at the first sign of danger, milliseconds before the neocortex (the thinking part of the brain) was aware a spear was headed for our chest, was probably a very useful adaptation. (...)
But in a world where risks are presented in parts-per-billion statistics or as clicks on a Geiger counter, our amygdala is out of its depth. (...)

“People are likely to react with little fear to certain types of objectively dangerous risk that evolution has not prepared them for, such as guns, hamburgers, automobiles, smoking, and unsafe sex, even when they recognize the threat at a cognitive level,” (...)

The result is that we focus on the one-in-a-million bogeyman while virtually ignoring the true risks that inhabit our world. (...) “Risk perception is not emotion and reason, or facts and feelings. It’s both, inescapably, down at the very wiring of our brain,” says Ropeik. “We can’t undo this. (...) Society needs to think more holistically about what risk means.”

Ropeik says policy makers need to stop issuing reams of statistics and start making policies that manipulate our risk perception system instead of trying to reason with it. (...) “Our risk perception is flawed enough to create harm,” he says, “but it’s something society can do something about.”
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