They’re not accidents, and we don’t have robotic cars

Updated October 5, 2011, to add a reference to a new article that fails to mention that the car involved in a crash had a driver. 


The headline for this crash might read: “Taxi wanted to avoid Lake Shore Drive congestion by taking the Lakefront Trail, makes wrong turn”. Photo by Andrew Ciscel. 

Language and word choice is powerful. It influences you to interpret a story in a specific way – or another. Monday’s headline on the Chicago Sun-Times website reads, “Police seek vehicle in fatal Uptown hit-and-run” and I thought, “Aren’t the police also interested in the driver of that vehicle?”*

And I read the first paragraph:

Police have released surveillance photos of a car that plowed into a woman crossing the street in Uptown early Saturday, then reportedly backed up and struck her again before fleeing the scene. The pedestrian died eight hours later.

“Oh, the police are looking for a car that drives itself. Of course!” I exclaimed to myself. “I guess one of Google’s experimental cars has come to Chicago”. But I was wrong as in the fifth paragraph, the unnamed author of this article described the crash: Continue reading They’re not accidents, and we don’t have robotic cars