Grendelkhan’s image of a Waymo self-driving car on the road in Mountain View, making a left turn. (Side view.)
Grendelkhan’s image of a Waymo self-driving car on the road in Mountain View, making a left turn. (Side view.)

AI, Autonomous Vehicles, and Race – Oh my! with Malcolm Gladwell

Grendelkhan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

How do self-driving cars change our psychology? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice philosophize about science’s role in society with prolific author Malcolm Gladwell. What’s the best way for scientists to communicate with the public?

Learn about Malcolm’s new book, The Bomber Mafia, and about incorporating science into writing. Should every scientist also be a science communicator? Should all areas of science be made accessible to the public? We debate the popularity of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and the role of pseudoscience in American science history. As a society, are we pulling away from scientific literacy? We talk about Malcolm’s mother growing up in Jamaica and why he loves the city of Atlanta. 

Neil and Malcolm compare notes about school growing up and discuss demographic disparities in school suspensions. Malcolm breaks down the concept of his new book about the quest to create accurate bombing in the second world war. Discover General Curtis LeMay and why he is one of the deadliest people in human history. You’ll also learn… how to make a mini firestorm on a birthday cake?

Why is Malcolm running in front of self-driving cars? We break down the changes in psychology between cars and pedestrians when it comes to autonomous vehicles. If the fear of an imperfect driver is removed, will pedestrians behave differently? Does the self-driving car revolution also hail in pedestrian anarchy? Should autonomous vehicles be less good at driving? Do self-driving cars have a trolley problem? Does programmer bias have the potential to put certain people more at risk of accidents? All that plus, find out the evolution of Malcolm’s hair. 

Thanks to our Patrons Tobias Malmborg, Andy Pattinson, Adam Lenda, Naomi Martin, Johan Fredrik Oldervik, and Scott Heflen for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.


In This Episode

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