Why the hate?

Over the course of this course (pun intended), we have all read countless news articles about self driving cars.  Some are more technical, some are informational, some are opinion.  There are a lot of articles in support of these vehicles, but there are also mountains of writers trashing self-driving cars. There are articles that trash the safety, the implementation, the user experience, and even the basic premise of self driving cars.

So why the hate?  Simply put, new things can be scary.  Why? Because of risk, as shown in this study.  We as beings that want to survive generally avoid risk, which diminishes the likelihood of us surviving.  New things generally have a larger risk factor, and definitely have a more unknown risk factor.  So our survival instincts are telling us to avoid this new technology that is scary, like how people were afraid of computers in 1995.

These self-driving cars activate fear in a lot of people.  And these people look for headlines that confirm their bias, an action that can be attributed to confirmation bias, a concept in psychology that describes how people are likely to search out and believe information that confirms their biases.  So its advantageous for a writer to publish an article that talks about and enforces the views of these people.  Fear makes people devour these articles, since self-preservation is one of the strongest human impluses.

This is kinda screwed up in my mind. This is why articles like this one gain traction. This article is a perfect example of how some writers will write slanderous headlines that make self driving cars the enemy, then describe in an article how the headline is essentially wrong.  These headlines can influence people who only read the headline unfairly, as stated in this article.

This kind of journalism generates views and clicks for writers and papers, but is damaging to the industry of self driving cars.  I admit that I have a bias in favor of these vehicles, but I feel that many articles against them are preying on our fears to generate capital, thus presenting an unfair view of the situation and swaying public opinion negatively.











One thought on “Why the hate?

  1. I agree with what you said on some level. I think that humans are instinctually afraid of change and are risk adverse. I also think that journalists are motivated to get readers, not necessarily make sure that the readers they get are digesting sound information.

    Part of the problem is the motivation of the writers, and the other is the readers themselves, us. We as humans are drawn to fake and controversial headlines. Ill name drop a cool new term I learned recently. The illusory truth effect: the phenomena that states that humans will start to assign truth to information if they hear information from multiple sources over repeated time. Not to get too political, but this term was created this year, because of fake news this year. If anyone is interested ill include the link to a thought-provoking vox article here.


    Whats so caustic about this idea is that is so easy to share and spread content on the internet. That is why harsh articles or false stories are so hard to stop because one person cannot control the content generation of false information.

    Tying it back into autonomous driving, the industry’ success rests on public adoption and trust. Sadly, one of the many obstacles in the way are they disgruntled transportation journalists.

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