by Will Schreiber

“How did the human cross the road?”

I cross 31 crosswalks on my way to work every morning.

There’s a four-stop at Steiner and Ellis. This morning, a white Ford Explorer came in hot to the stop sign before slamming its brakes.

We made eye contact. He paused. Then I took my eyes off of him, off of the car, looked straight ahead, and started crossing the street.

I wouldn’t have ever thought about this tiny interaction. But Daniel Kahneman was recently on Lex Fridman’s podcast. They were talking about how self-driving cars can possibly infer whether or not humans are about to step into the street.

Kahneman noted how, immediately after making eye contact with drivers, walkers invariably always look away before beginning to cross.

Our parents don’t teach us this behavior. “Now Johnny, remember to look away from the car as you’re beginning to cross the 8-line highway.”

But over time we’ve all learned to play a variant of this game of chicken.