On Feb. 14, a Google self-driving car attempted to pass a municipal bus in Mountain View, California. The bus did not behave as the autonomous car predicted, and the self-driving car crashed into it while attempting to move back into its lane. The Google car was traveling at the stately speed of 2 mph, and there were no injuries. Google released a statement accepting fault and announcing that it was tweaking its software to avoid this type of collision in the future.
There is good reason to believe, though, that tweaks to the software might not be enough. What led the Google car astray was the inability to correctly guess out what the bus driver was thinking and then react to it.
The biggest difference in capability between self-driving cars and humans is likely to be theory of mind. Researchers like professor Felix Warneken at Harvard have shown that even very young children have exquisitely tuned senses for the intentions and goals of other people. Warneken and others have argued this is the core of uniquely human intelligence.
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