Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Ethics of Autonomous Cars

  Patrick Lin wrote an article about the dangers of Autonomous cars and he wrote about 2 different scenarios for when the autonomous car has to make a daring choice of what to crash into when in a crash scenario .  The first scenario is either crashing into an SUV or a Mini Cooper.  SUV's today have been advertised to have the best safety ratings and are usually large and bulky.  While Mini Coopers are relatively small and their safety ratings aren't as good as the bulky SUV's.  But the question now is what does the car hit? Does the autonomous car hit the bulky SUV or the fragile Mini Cooper? The simple answer would to hit the SUV since the people in the SUV have a better chance on surviving the crash than hitting the Mini Cooper. But is that the most logical solution?  What if the SUV contained a new born baby in the back the the autonomous car hits the back door, Bye Bye baby.  What is the SUV was being driven by a young driver and the autonomous car hits the front, Bye Bye driver.  If you knew that a young driver was driving or a baby was in the back would you want your autonomous car to drive into the SUV?  Now I understand that the type of automobile your driving isn't stated but let's say you are driving a big rig, would you still crash into the SUV? This is a controversial issue that critics argue all day and all night.  Some critics say that the car should hit the SUV no matter who's in it due to its higher safety ratings and a higher chance of survival while some critics argue that the car should find another solution, like to run into the guardrail.  In my opinion the SUV should be the choice for the automobile to hit but I will consider to make the car hit something else.  The second scenario we discussed was that you were in the same situation but this time you had to chose between a motorcyclist wearing a helmet and one without a helmet.   Obviously you crash into the motorcyclist wearing the helmet due to better survival chances but critics don't agree with that.  So you are giving the guy not wearing a helmet a surviving chance for not being safe?? Critics argue that the algorithm that is running the chances system is faulty because as you can see in this situation you are injuring the guy that is following safety protocols by wearing the helmet and letting the violator go scotch free? They believe that if this happened companies like Mercedes who take pride in safety will start losing money because motorists aren't gonna wear helmets so that they aren't targeted by this biased system.  This isn't like the SUV/Mini Cooper scenario were the people are in cars, these people are exposed to the elements.  Nothing is coming between the crashing car and the motorist.  In my opinion I would want the car to hit the motorists that isn't wearing a helmet because 1) He is violation safety protocols and 2) The autonomous car shouldn't be promoting "Hey motorists, don't wear helmets or else I'm gonna hit you!!" NO that's bad.  We don't want that. The government wants everyone to be safe.

  One idea to fix this algorithm problem is to replace it with a random-number generator.  For example if the number the autonomous car gets is even, then it will crash into the SUV, if its odd the Mini Cooper.  This way the car doesn't have to base its crash point on statistics and have biased opinions. I am totally on board with the random-number generator because the car with chose randomly so it can decide what to do, not have predetermined data (as previously stated) and go from there.

   Alexander Karasula's posed a question which stated, "If the driver is not making control decisions, should the driver be responsible for any outcomes at all?"  In my opinion this is a tricky question.  It can be Yes and No.  But if I were only allowed to chose one I would chose No because the driver had no interference or decision in the situation.  For example an accident. The driver shouldn't be accused of anything because it wasn't his decision to crash into that specific car, it was the on board computer. All in all, we have seen that the decision of letting autonomous cars go into production is controversial due to all the scenarios and questions that are floating around. Volvo has announced that they would like to start the production of autonomous cars in 2017, 3 (almost 2) years from now. Is this too soon? Did they cover everything they should have? All we can do is pray for the best.

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