Boeing’s cold-blooded risk calculation may tarnish trust in “self-driving” cars for years

But we are now entering a world in which computers will make judgments for us in inherently uncertain and potentially deadly situations. They will be wrong more often than we have come to expect of today’s automated systems in factories and airliners. The unpredictable environment of the open road is far more complex than inside a building or in commercial airspace.

That makes safety regulation an existential question for the industry. Steve Shladover, a research engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, says Boeing’s failures suggest a more muscular regulatory body is needed to avoid mistakes like Boeing’s. The $211-billion company, with decades of experience launching rockets and manufacturing airplanes, somehow overlooked basic design principles of automated vehicles.