Dans The Engineer’s Lament - Two ways of thinking about automotive safety, Malcolm Gladwell explique (longuement[1]) pourquoi la perception du public (et leur acceptation) des problèmes de fiabilité ou de sécurité des voitures est différente de celle des ingénieurs qui les ont conçues.
En résumé : "To the public, a car either is or isn’t faulty. To an engineer, imperfections and compromises are inevitable."
Mais comme souvent, "c'est un peu plus compliqué que ça" ((c) François Morel)

A system’s tolerance is its ability to cope with changes and unplanned variation; systems need to be tolerant because you can never perfectly predict what stresses and unexpected behaviors they will encounter. Specifications are constraints. No one tells you to build a perfect car. People tell you to build a car in eighteen months that will sell for twenty-five thousand dollars. The fact that a car is revealed to be imperfect, in other words, is not sufficient reason to recall it: imperfections and compromises are inevitable. The issue is how tolerant the car is of those imperfections and compromises.

La manière dont le problème (avéré ou imaginaire) est pris en charge peut cependant faire toute la différence. A propos des "sticky pedals" rencontré par Toyota :

But in the public mind a car that accelerated unexpectedly was broken. The teams of engineers that Toyota sent out didn’t make the problem better. They made it worse.

“The Toyota guy explained this to the panel,” Martin went on. “He said, ‘Here’s our process.’ So I said to him, ‘What do you imagine the people are thinking? They’re shaking like a leaf at the side of the road and after that whole experience they are told, “The car’s fine. Chill out. Don’t make mistakes anymore.” Of course they are not going to be happy. These people are scared. What if instead you sent people out who could be genuinely empathetic? What if you said, “We’re sorry this happened. What we’re worried about is your comfort and your confidence and your safety. We’re going to check your car. If you’re just scared of this car, we’ll take it back and give you another, because your feeling of confidence matters more than anything else.”

Un commentaire ici :

Also, as Gladwell points out, the causes of automobile accidents are primarily due to such things as driver distraction (texting, talking, eating), alcohol, and poor skills, rather than automobile equipment failures. But victims of such failures (and their eager attorneys) see things very differently. Most people expect their equipment to be 100% reliable and safe, but not willing to accept the associated penalties. As near as I can tell, at some level of complexity and change, people (and robots) will screw up and things will fail. But it is possible to improve the situation by striving for simplicity, spending more money, and taking the time to do more testing. But we don’t want that. We want spiffy new stuff now with more bells and whistles at low price.


[1] si vous cherchez des choses plus faciles à absorber, vous pouvez toujours vous rabattre sur son TED talk sur les sauces spaghetti.