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Thread: Should your driverless car kill you to save a child's life? A license to kill?

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    Should your driverless car kill you to save a child's life? A license to kill?

    Driverless cars are projected to appear on roads, and make moving from one point to another less cumbersome. Even though they won't be controlled by humanoid robots, the software that will run them raises many ethical challenges.

    For instance, should your robot car kill you to save the life of another in an unavoidable crash?

    License to kill?


    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-driverl...hild-life.html

    I got dibs on the neologism AUTO-CAR to replace the turgid autonomous car and robot car.

    The confusion of moral and ethical, leading to their conflation, is amusing.

    Yes, slowing as a solution to hazard is effective. In the limit, don't get out of bed. Short of the limit, don't drive
    Last edited by Nightmare; 08-02-2014 at 08:33 AM.
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    Either way, he would be trial for murder.

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    i guess we need the three laws of auto-cars. paging dr asimov!

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    I have not heard of any instances of children on the road in tunnels...
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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Very interesting questions posed. Personally I think transportation should develop away from using open-air roadways and untethered vehicles. But that would require massive infrastructure changes to an infrastructure which is controlled by a system not friendly to innovation or change.



    I think the question is purposefully misrepresented to seem a bit more controversial than it is, or at least will be initially. The car (most likely) will not literally be choosing to intentionally kill one or the other, as if the car would even be able to determine with any certainty the outcome of each of the two given options.... Not to mention that the two options presented are somewhat of an either or fallacy and probably don't even take into consideration some of the most important questions. For instance, one of the most important goals for a human driver when faced with an impending collision is to keep control of the vehicle as best as possible. Slamming into a wall throws your control out the window and then it doesn't matter what you or the car 'decides' to try and do, you've just thrown the outcome of the collision to the wind and potentially created a hazard that could begin multiplying.

    Really I think this is no more a dilemma than it would be with a human driver. If the supposed problem is who decides how the car behaves, the purchaser or the car manufacturer... There is no dilemma there. If you don't like the way the car is programmed, don't buy and use it...
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcbeth View Post
    Either way, he would be trial for murder.
    Who? The owner of the auto car or the person who designed or maybe programmed the car to make those decisions?

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    Regular Member Freedom1Man's Avatar
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    That answer is simple, kill the child.

    Since the child was too stupid to not wait for a better time to cross the road and then they make a compounding mistake and tripped, killing the child would simply be clearing the gene pool.

    I believe that the question came from either a Asimov or Heinlein story.
    Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry. --- These matters obviously lie outside the orbit of congressional power. (Railroad Retirement Board v Alton Railroad)

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Computers have no emotion, the example given was intent to apply emotion where there is none. The current systems are designed to avoid a collision, mostly by braking. It is not logical for them to intentionally collide to avoid a lesser collision.

    I can understand peoples fear of the system, especially those that get paid to drive. Probably the same people felt as robots took over tasks in factories. Or how the workforce has been reduced in general to technology. We cannot stop it, no sense in losing sleep over it. Most people like to drive so this will not remove people driving cars, it will also be expensive initially. It will affect truckers, taxi drivers and such.

    People who run in front of vehicles will get hurt then just as they do now. Usually that is a urban thing, not a tunnel thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    [ ... ]Probably the same people felt as robots took over tasks in factories. Or how the workforce has been reduced in general to technology. [ ... ]
    LOL Learn the history, "our past", of Ned Ludd and his Luddites movement that exists today.
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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    What I wonder is how it will affect DUI laws. If the occupant clearly has no control of the car there is no reason for them to be arrested for drinking and driving. I will also give increased mobility to the disabled, particularly the blind. Many elderly if they can afford the system would not need to depend on others. Trucking industry may still need personal for other tasks, flat bed trucks still need bodies to tarp, and check loads while on the road. These people will be able to travel farther and speed up delivery.

    I do not expect the authorities to trust the system when it comes online. There probably will still be a requirement for a operator on board.
    It is well that war is so terrible otherwise we would grow too fond of it.
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    The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.
    Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson
    What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.
    President Donald Trump

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    I, for one, put all this "driverless car" nonsense into the same category as AI "science": it's purely the result of self-congratulatory, back-slapping circles of head-nodding agreement ( la Mountain Monsters), with a dose of choir-preaching thrown in for good measure.

    We don't have a fraction of the infrastructure needed to support such technology; for instance, algorithmic pattern matching is a joke compared to what humans are capable of, so we would need complete data collection in and out of the car simply to replace what the eyes, ears, and intuition do with zero effort or infrastructure.

    Furthermore, my prediction is that auto-cars are a nonstarter without such infrastructure, which is itself a non-starter without auto-cars to use it with, leading to a catch-22.

    Basically, these folks are completely ignoring market drives and hoping to create enough hype to convince legislatures to essentially buy them their pet dream.

    Airborne vehicles are another story, I suspect.

    Personally, I have mixed feelings about all this. My own suspicion is that technology is not anywhere near capable of outperforming a competent, capable driver. On the other hand, there are plenty of incompetent & incapable drivers on the road (not to mention drunks), and exceeding their capability is likely be an easier challenge altogether. Also, driverless cars would have the advantage of throwing 99% of traffic stop "justifications" out the window, which would be a huge boon for free society.
    Last edited by marshaul; 08-02-2014 at 03:02 PM.

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    I do not expect the authorities to trust the system when it comes online. There probably will still be a requirement for a operator on board.
    I dunno. I tend to view the lot of "authorities" legislatures, bureaucracies as wholly occupied by sociopaths incapable of caring for the safety of anyone (likely including themselves), incentivized only by their need to fill their pockets while justifying their own existence. So, to me, the question is not who they will "trust", but what increases their power the most.

    However, your conclusion may be correct, for it would seem that (to my chagrin) "operated" cars lend them the most "justification" for exercise of power.

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    Hmm...it seems that bureaucrats would love to have control of your car at any given moment, on a whim, cops even more so. Stop the car anywhere they choose at anytime. Lock the doors so ya can't get out. All from the comfort of their MRAP parked at the doughnut shop waiting for the car to make a mistake...or no mistake at all.
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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Marshaul, you are aware that 'self driving' cars operate on public roadways today, right? Maybe we are talking about two different things but I believe the technology exists to make a car go from point a to point b on a public roadway without human direction or intervention (other than selecting the destination, if that counts)
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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    Marshaul, you are aware that 'self driving' cars operate on public roadways today, right?
    I'm aware of several toys posited as being such, none of which are remotely salable products. Unless you're aware of something I'm not?

    I'm an embedded systems engineer, so I do have passing familiarity with the control systems used by such devices. I've seen nothing which circumvents the inadequacy of algorithmic/computational technology when it comes to pattern-matching and when compared to the human brain.

    Maybe we are talking about two different things but I believe the technology exists to make a car go from point a to point b on a public roadway without human direction or intervention (other than selecting the destination, if that counts)
    Make it go from point A to point B? Sure. Make it do so cost-effectively, reliably, and safely? Not even close.

    Let me give you an example of the little details these salesmen ignore. For instance, it's not too difficult to achieve such a result inexpensively on a closed course. What happens when you introduce "user-operated" cars into the system, not to mention pedestrians, debris flying off trucks, etc etc etc? The cost of the system rapidly goes up, reliability down (and safety with it). As a result of this little niggle, most of the "driverless car" technology I've seen depends implicitly on roads being predictable (closed), or on every other car possessing a similar system so that they all might work in concert. But both of these are pipe dreams, as is a "driverless car" capable of competing with existing cars and operating with the same degree of reliability on open roads.

    As an active technologist myself, I'm open to supported rebuttals.
    Last edited by marshaul; 08-04-2014 at 03:44 PM.

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    MARSHAL, the infrastructure is very easy to achieve. though maybe a chicken and egg thing

    magnetic rods or post would be relative easy thing to inject into the road then with a vehicle that would sense these rods, and that would follow them.

    the real question are with the power that be, will they be able to adopt to these new tech. i know in some counties around here the people that make the laws don't want cell towers for those fad cell phone things that no one will want
    one of the problems that has been tested in these systems are that the people complain about it being so boring

    but by the time this tech is being mass produced we will have lost all individual identity and the powers that be will dictate every thing you do
    or we will have anarchy and no one will be in charge
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    Regular Member OC Freedom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Hmm...it seems that bureaucrats would love to have control of your car at any given moment, on a whim, cops even more so. Stop the car anywhere they choose at anytime. Lock the doors so ya can't get out. All from the comfort of their MRAP parked at the doughnut shop waiting for the car to make a mistake...or no mistake at all.
    +100%

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papa bear View Post
    MARSHAL, the infrastructure is very easy to achieve. though maybe a chicken and egg thing
    Exactly. And who's going to pay for poultry?

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    Quote Originally Posted by marshaul View Post
    I'm aware of several toys posited as being such, none of which are remotely salable products. Unless you're aware of something I'm not?

    I'm an embedded systems engineer, so I do have passing familiarity with the control systems used by such devices. I've seen nothing which circumvents the inadequacy of algorithmic/computational technology when it comes to pattern-matching and when compared to the human brain.



    Make it go from point A to point B? Sure. Make it do so cost-effectively, reliably, and safely? Not even close.

    Let me give you an example of the little details these salesmen ignore. For instance, it's not too difficult to achieve such a result inexpensively on a closed course. What happens when you introduce "user-operated" cars into the system, not to mention pedestrians, debris flying off trucks, etc etc etc? The cost of the system rapidly goes up, reliability down (and safety with it). As a result of this little niggle, most of the "driverless car" technology I've seen depends implicitly on roads being predictable (closed), or on every other car possessing a similar system so that they all might work in concert. But both of these are pipe dreams, as is a "driverless car" capable of competing with existing cars and operating with the same degree of reliability on open roads.

    As an active technologist myself, I'm open to supported rebuttals.
    I'm referring to vehicles that drive on open public roads, alongside real human drivers, not on closed courses...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car
    "The car has traversed San Francisco's Lombard Street, famed for its steep hairpin turns, and through city traffic. The vehicles have driven over the Golden Gate Bridge and around Lake Tahoe."
    "In August 2012, the team announced that they have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles (500,000 km) accident-free, typically have about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and are starting to test them with single drivers instead of in pairs."
    Edit for clarification on the "drivers" mentioned above: "The system drives at the speed limit it has stored on its maps and maintains its distance from other vehicles using its system of sensors. The system provides an override that allows a human driver to take control of the car by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel, similar to cruise control systems already found in many cars today."
    So the cars are being controlled by the computer systems, but can be over-ridden by a human in the vehicle, if needed.

    You may already be aware of this and are not impressed, not sure, but your post didn't really seem to address these cars that Google has running around on public roads.
    Last edited by stealthyeliminator; 08-04-2014 at 06:45 PM.
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    Regular Member twoskinsonemanns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    Very interesting questions posed. Personally I think transportation should develop away from using open-air roadways and untethered vehicles. But that would require massive infrastructure changes to an infrastructure which is controlled by a system not friendly to innovation or change.
    It would be neat. Although it would invariably lead to the data-logging of everyone's movement for possible use to later imprison you at the State's pleasure.
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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twoskinsonemanns View Post
    It would be neat. Although it would invariably lead to the data-logging of everyone's movement for possible use to later imprison you at the State's pleasure.
    To be honest, I hadn't even considered that aspect of it. It's a good point.

    Also, nice avatar
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    Regular Member twoskinsonemanns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    To be honest, I hadn't even considered that aspect of it. It's a good point.

    Also, nice avatar
    Thanks And same to you
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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    You may already be aware of this and are not impressed, not sure, but your post didn't really seem to address these cars that Google has running around on public roads.
    From the wiki article:

    Google's robotic cars have about $150,000 in equipment including a $70,000 lidar (light radar) system. The range finder mounted on the top is a Velodyne 64-beam laser. This laser allows the vehicle to generate a detailed 3D map of its environment. The car then takes these generated maps and combines them with high-resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself.

    Currently (as of June 2014), the system works with a very high definition inch-precision map of the area the vehicle is expected to use, including how high the traffic lights are; in addition to on-board systems, some computation is performed on remote computer farms.
    Hah! Yeah, sure, Google can drive around their carefully-mapped Mountain View campus and its environs (and it's dependent on "the cloud" to boot). The above is about the definition of "not scalable".
    Last edited by marshaul; 08-04-2014 at 11:24 PM.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    If it looks like a Google Maps car it may get run off the road...some folks just don't like Google.

    Given the proclivities of hand-held device users, once they have a car that allows them uninterrupted interaction with said hand-held device, "driver" intervention in the event of the "unforeseen" will get tossed right out the window...so to speak. IOW, folks won't even know they got into a wreck until the wreck happens.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Regular Member twoskinsonemanns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    If it looks like a Google Maps car it may get run off the road...some folks just don't like Google.

    Given the proclivities of hand-held device users, once they have a car that allows them uninterrupted interaction with said hand-held device, "driver" intervention in the event of the "unforeseen" will get tossed right out the window...so to speak. IOW, folks won't even know they got into a wreck until the wreck happens.
    Pfft. Screw the phone. If I got a car that drives it'self I'm taking a nap.
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    We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission - Ayn Rand

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