Last week the Times rehashed the hoary topic of autonomous vehicle morality in an article titled "Should Your Driverless Car Hit a Pedestrian to Save Your Life?". Obviously, these issues will be determined by legislation, not by scientists at auto companies. As with every transformational technology, a scheme of compromises will be worked out. This is something human beings are good at. It's more interesting to speculate on the fallout. And here's what I don't get:
Urban intersections create uneasy standoffs between brazen pedestrians and possibly homicidal motorists. The threat of grievous bodily harm is the only thing keeping pedestrians off streets during vehicular right-of-way. If any idiot jumping into slow-moving traffic has the power to stop everything, how will idiots not be constantly jumping into slow-moving traffic to stop everything? Worse, wouldn't every yahoo have the power to cause monstrous pile-on collisions, by forcing the front-running car to jam on its breaks? Wouldn't pushing something in front of you (e.g. an empty baby carriage) make you The God of All Traffic at no personal risk?
The only reason cars can move at all in urban spaces is pedestrian fear and uncertainty - i.e. they're never sure a given driver will stop for them. Removing this uncertainty tilts the balance of power, resulting in traffic paralysis at best and multiple crashes at worst (as the robots exercise all due caution in protecting life and limb).
Driverless Cars (i.e. Trusting Those Cold, Dodgy Algorithms): My initial luddite ravings from early 2015
One Cool Prospect With Autonomous Cars: Utopian musings from earlier this year (plus a couple excellent links).
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