Driven to safety — it’s time to pool our data

Kevin Guo at TechCrunch: “…Anyone with experience in the artificial intelligence space will tell you that quality and quantity of training data is one of the most important inputs in building real-world-functional AI. This is why today’s large technology companies continue to collect and keep detailed consumer data, despite recent public backlash. From search engines, to social media, to self driving cars, data — in some cases even more than the underlying technology itself — is what drives value in today’s technology companies.

It should be no surprise then that autonomous vehicle companies do not publicly share data, even in instances of deadly crashes. When it comes to autonomous vehicles, the public interest (making safe self-driving cars available as soon as possible) is clearly at odds with corporate interests (making as much money as possible on the technology).

We need to create industry and regulatory environments in which autonomous vehicle companies compete based upon the quality of their technology — not just upon their ability to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to collect and silo as much data as possible (yes, this is how much gathering this data costs). In today’s environment the inverse is true: autonomous car manufacturers are focusing on are gathering as many miles of data as possible, with the intention of feeding more information into their models than their competitors, all the while avoiding working together….

The complexity of this data is diverse, yet public — I am not suggesting that people hand over private, privileged data, but actively pool and combine what the cars are seeing. There’s a reason that many of the autonomous car companies are driving millions of virtual miles — they’re attempting to get as much active driving data as they can. Beyond the fact that they drove those miles, what truly makes that data something that they have to hoard? By sharing these miles, by seeing as much of the world in as much detail as possible, these companies can focus on making smarter, better autonomous vehicles and bring them to market faster.

If you’re reading this and thinking it’s deeply unfair, I encourage you to once again consider 40,000 people are preventably dying every year in America alone. If you are not compelled by the massive life-saving potential of the technology, consider that publicly licenseable self-driving data sets would accelerate innovation by removing a substantial portion of the capital barrier-to-entry in the space and increasing competition….(More)”