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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Autonomous cars "the way of the future"

There is a new car coming to the market... One you don't even drive yourself.  Is this a good idea? You may say yes, but before you do, think about how these cars could be programmed to hit you.

Think about it this way.  If an autonomous car is in a situation where it would have no choice but to crash, should it crash into a mini cooper, or an SUV? An SUV could handle the crash, but that means the car was targeting this SUV over any other car.  If the situation changed to either hitting a motorcyclist with a helmet on vs one without, who should be hit?  You would think the one with the helmet, but that means not wearing a helmet makes you safer on the road.  This would make less and less people ride a motorcycle without a helmet.

Does this mean we should have the target chosen at random? I think that this could partially solve the problem, but only when the targets are similar. If the car has to chose between hitting a truck and running over a biker, it should aim for the truck every time. If the targets are more similar, like two cars or the bikers again, the system should be random. A car has a faster reaction time than a person so it is more likely to avoid the crash and make split second decisions better than a human who not only doesn't have the fastest reflexes, but could also be tired, drunk, or having some other handicap to their driving. 

This makes me think.. are you responsible for a crash your automatic car makes? If you hit a car, are you yourself to blame?  If in a worse case scenario someone dies from your car are you locked in jail?  There has to be someone to blame for these events, and the dealership that mass produces these cars shouldn't be because they're already trying their hardest to make this car as safe as they possibly can.

All-in-all I still question whether autonomous cars are entirely ethical or not.  Either way they will be made.  Progress is progress and that's not going to stop just because a 15 year old questions it.  Although it does save lives, it puts people in a sort of "Russian roulette" game where at times just driving puts you in the lottery as a potential target.  

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