In medicine, false positives are expensive, scary, and even painful. Yes, the doctor eventually tells you that the follow-up biopsy after that bloop on the mammogram puts you in the clear. But the intervening weeks are excruciating. A false negative is no better: “Go home, you’re fine, those headaches are nothing to worry about.”
Anyone who builds detection systems – medical tests, security screening equipment, or the software that makes self-driving cars perceive and evaluate their surroundings – is aware of (and afraid of) both types of scenarios.