An essay by Robbie Miller posted April 17 calls out several in the robocar industry for "safety theater." Miller has some chops here -- he famously quit Uber a few days before their fatality after sending a letter to its management about the bad safety practices there. On the other hand, he has joined Anthony Levandowski to do safety for Pronto, a trucking driver assist startup.

Miller correctly points out that counting disengagements, as is done in California, is not very useful because everybody reports them differently and it creates bad incentives. He calls this safety theater, but I don't believe these metrics arose in the attempt to fool people; rather they just came about because nobody knew what to do, and this seemed easy. Real metrics are much harder to calculate, and involve accurately simulating what would have happened absent any intervention to learn if there was a real safety event. That way you learn what's actually going wrong and you don't put many disincentives on intervention.

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