Making Friends with AI

Etiquette Lessons for AI

How to build machines with good manners

Cassie Kozyrkov
6 min readSep 29, 2023


You’ve just built an AI system. What will you do if mistakes happen?

Here’s one mistake already: when! “When” mistakes happen, not “if” mistakes happen!

When B.J. May stepped out of his Georgia home on a sunny day, he experienced one of my favorite AI whoopsies. The “smart” facial recognition-based lock on his front door wouldn’t let him back in because it was protecting the residents from…

From a tweet by BJ May, used with his permission.

… Batman!

Luckily, the team that built the smart lock planned for mistakes, which is why B.J. had the option to use his pin to get back inside. But what if they hadn’t? Our (super)hero would have had a very different day indeed. And a very dark night.

When, not if

Just as responsible policymakers create plans and failsafes for human error, responsible practitioners of machine learning and AI always make sure that there’s a plan in place in case the system produces the wrong output.



Cassie Kozyrkov

Chief Decision Scientist, Google. ❤️ Stats, ML/AI, data, puns, art, theatre, decision science. All views are my own.