Exponential View with Azeem Azhar

How will the future unfold? What is the impact of technology on business & society? As technology reorders the world in which live, who will be the winners and who will be the losers? Join Azeem Azhar, curator of the Exponential View newsletter, in deep conversation with the world's leading thinkers and practitioners exploring these and other important questions. The views expressed on this podcast are those of its hosts, guests, and callers, and not those of Harvard Business Review.



episode 7: The Truth About Autonomy

Director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University and one of the first female fighter pilots, professor Missy Cummings debates the current state of autonomy with Azeem Azhar. Taking a stance of techno-realism, Missy explains why we’re not even close to developing Level 5 autonomy in driving and why robotic surgery is still not safe.

In this podcast, Missy and Azeem also discuss:

  • The nonlinear upward movement across levels of automation. While early developments may take similar amounts of time and money, the final advancements demand exponentially more.
  • The psychology behind why we will almost certainly always have human pilots on commercial flights.
  • Why the United States’ certification system, based on equivalence, has never been suitable for autonomous systems — and how training regulators and policymakers alongside engineers might spark regulatory improvements that would foster safe innovation.
  • Parallels between the cultures of Silicon Valley and the U.S. military and thoughts on why gender equality still hasn’t been achieved.

Further reading:

  • “Technological, Regulatory Innovation Needed to Ensure Safety in Autonomous Vehicle Research” (Duke, April 9, 2018)
  • “FDA clears new robotically-assisted surgical device for adult patients” (U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Oct. 13, 2017)
  • “Robotic Surgery: An Example of When Newer Is Not Always Better but Clearly More Expensive” (The Milbank Quarterly, March 2016)
  • “‘I Don’t Know How Professors Teach Without Fighter-Pilot Experience'” (The Atlantic, April 26, 2018)
  • “Ex-pilot: I understand Martha McSally’s pain” (CNN, March 8, 2019)

Missy Cummings @missy_cummings
Azeem Azhar @azeem


 2019-05-15  38m