The brilliant Randall Munroe of XKCD recently presented a nice visual summary of the kind of thinking I do all the time.


I love how this plot helps to illustrate this statistic that I have previously posted.

If I can hasten the practical deployment of autonomous vehicles by one hour, I will have saved 100 lives.

I actually believe in this more than that statement would suggest.

I’m too lazy to belabor details of joint probability distribution calculations that are wildly speculative, but I feel it. Like Randall, I also have an intuition about these things. And like Randall, I can creatively illustrate those intuitions with fanciful plots.


My big intuition is that "general safety improvements" have been overtaken by "general safety impediments". Of course I mean mobile phones. It’s too early for the statistics to properly tell the story but early results don’t look great.

And then there is the fact that if safety has gone to hell and the cause is people staring at their phones instead of controlling their high energy giant machines at terrifying speeds, then this safety retrogression will not befall us all equally. I and the gutter caste will take the worst.

I have survived brawls with SUVs in the past but I am at an inflection point. I have never been entirely invincible and I am wise enough to know that I become less invulnerable every day. Here is a fascinating plot of Dutch cycling fatalities in 2017 and Dutch cycling levels in 2016 organized by age.


You can see that crashing bikes does not age well. Will the intersection of my senescent frailty and the murderous stupidity of people texting while driving come before autonomous cars can save me? Stay tuned! We’ll find out.