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Old 8th December 2017, 12:18 PM   #1
Scorpion
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Driverless cars

I saw hardtalk on TV last night and it posed some interesting problems for driverless cars. For example, if a driverless car was going to crash and possibly kill the occupants but to swerve to avoid the collision would mean running down a group of pedestrians what would the car do?

Can a programmed car possibly be safe if it cannot make moral choices of this nature?

Not only that but even programming a car to read the road ahead and pull over to allow oncoming traffic would be difficult. Would all cars be programmed to give way, if so would it not cause traffic jams?

It also occurred to me that if you programmed a car to drive aggressively then cars would be fighting for a parking space, and that could cause accidents.

I am hoping that this problem will not affect me, and I will not live long enough to see the only taxis available will be driverless, Or that all buses will be driverless, because I don't want to ride in one.
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Old 8th December 2017, 12:34 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I saw hardtalk on TV last night and it posed some interesting problems for driverless cars. For example, if a driverless car was going to crash and possibly kill the occupants but to swerve to avoid the collision would mean running down a group of pedestrians what would the car do?

Can a programmed car possibly be safe if it cannot make moral choices of this nature?
Obvious question: Can human driven cars possibly be safe if the human driver cannot make moral choices of this nature? Actually the issue here is that human drivers don't make a moral choice because they don't have time to think about ethics and morals, whereas a computer could run through the ethical subroutine in nanoseconds.

I think the obvious solution is that the car should be designed to protect the occupants first and others secondarily.

Quote:
Not only that but even programming a car to read the road ahead and pull over to allow oncoming traffic would be difficult. Would all cars be programmed to give way, if so would it not cause traffic jams?
If you are talking about emergency vehicles, I would suspect that the number of cars needing to slow down would be reduced. Suppose you see a fire truck coming towards you with lights flashing and siren blaring. You pull over, but the truck turns before it even reaches you. With driverless cars the fire truck would be telling your car not to bother stopping.

Quote:
It also occurred to me that if you programmed a car to drive aggressively then cars would be fighting for a parking space, and that could cause accidents.
It's a good thing that never happens now, eh? That's what I think you are missing. It's not as if we never have any accidents or deaths under the current human-driving system--we have quite a lot of accidents and deaths. There is every reason to assume that driverless cars will lead to substantially fewer accidents and deaths. Will the system be perfect? No, of course not.
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Old 8th December 2017, 12:45 PM   #3
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I want a driverless car that will gladly run over a granny if that saves me a minute of commuting.
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Old 8th December 2017, 12:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post

If you are talking about emergency vehicles, I would suspect that the number of cars needing to slow down would be reduced. Suppose you see a fire truck coming towards you with lights flashing and siren blaring. You pull over, but the truck turns before it even reaches you. With driverless cars the fire truck would be telling your car not to bother stopping.
No I was talking about normal driving on minor roads. There are usually parked cars on both sides of the road and there is only enough room in the middle of the road for one vehicle to pass. Normally human drivers read the road ahead for a long distance and see if anything is coming, or if there are any gaps between parked cars to pull into. It happens every day where a driver sees a vehicle in the distance and pulls into a gap to allow it to pass.
How the hell is a driverless car going to be able to read the road ahead and decide whether to give way or not?
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Old 8th December 2017, 01:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
For example, if a driverless car was going to crash and possibly kill the occupants but to swerve to avoid the collision would mean running down a group of pedestrians what would the car do?
This is a significant liability issue for the car manufacturer, who is going to be considered wrong by the injured party either way.

Perhaps the riders should be required to have the answer to the question of whose life the car should prioritize in a lose-lose situation on file ahead of time. Then they would have to assume responsibility for the outcome either way.

Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I want a driverless car that will gladly run over a granny if that saves me a minute of commuting.
Perhaps that could be an optional rider choice in the premium luxury models!
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Old 8th December 2017, 01:53 PM   #6
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Questions like this and the trolley problem are great conversations to be had but how often in real life does a car accident involve an actual difficult moral dilemma? I would say this is an extremely rare event.
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Old 8th December 2017, 03:58 PM   #7
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Also I doubt that there would ever be many driverless cars. There would be far more driverless buses.
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Old 8th December 2017, 04:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I saw hardtalk on TV last night and it posed some interesting problems for driverless cars. For example, if a driverless car was going to crash and possibly kill the occupants but to swerve to avoid the collision would mean running down a group of pedestrians what would the car do?
This doesn't exist. There are no "self-driving" cars that understand what another car is or what a pedestrian. It has no ability to even formulate it as a moral question, much less reach a decision. Nor will this arrive any time soon based on current development.

Quote:
Not only that but even programming a car to read the road ahead and pull over to allow oncoming traffic would be difficult. Would all cars be programmed to give way, if so would it not cause traffic jams?
No. Problems like these will prevent general use of "driverless" cars.
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:12 PM   #9
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snort.

Quote:
Waymo's self-driving cars rack up 4 million miles on public roads - The ...
https://www.theverge.com/.../waymo-s...lic-roads-mile...
Nov 28, 2017 - Self-driving cars are still very much a technology of the future, however their presence in the here and now is growing. Alphabet's Waymo is among the pioneers pushing self-driving vehicles out into real-world testing, and it has just revealed that its cars have passed the milestone of driving more than 4 million miles on ...
even with the idjits on the road

and no human tenders on some

Quote:
Self-driving vehicles passed a major milestone in November when Waymo’s minivans hit the streets of Phoenix without backup human drivers — reportedly making them the first fleet of fully autonomous cars on public roadways. Over the next few months, people will get a chance to take these streetwise vehicles for a free spin as the company tries to drum up excitement — and a customer base — for its launch of a driverless taxi service.
https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/sci...ts-safe-enough

It's coming whether you like it or not...

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Old 9th December 2017, 09:18 PM   #10
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
It also occurred to me that if you programmed a car to drive aggressively then cars would be fighting for a parking space, and that could cause accidents.
The car has no incentive to fight for a parking space. It just drops you off, then finds somewhere to park. Assuming it needs to park at all ... it might be part of a fleet doing pickups and drop-offs.
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:56 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
How the hell is a driverless car going to be able to read the road ahead and decide whether to give way or not?
The same way a driver does. Situational awareness.

ETA:
Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Or that all buses will be driverless, because I don't want to ride in one.
The odds would favor the bus passengers, I would think. Riding in one could be relatively safe.

Do I sense that others on this thread have been fielding similar questions for a long time?

ETA2: 12-15 years ago in the newspaper business we were wondering, how will we make money on the Internet if people can't get their supermarket circulars? Now the websites give you an option to print out your circulars. A short video ad might play before your content is featured. A gray screen might make reading difficult until you spend 5 seconds acknowledging the ads and moving on. I find it super-annoying that such obvious solutions did not occur to the people who ran my giant media company. I'm hoping these measures make content creation profitable again. Without having to install paywalls, either.

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Old 9th December 2017, 10:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
The same way a driver does. Situational awareness.
and a much wider set of inputs and much much faster reaction times to that input.
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Old 9th December 2017, 10:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
and a much wider set of inputs and much much faster reaction times to that input.


Yep. Teslas have three forward looking cameras, with ranges of 60, 150 and 250 meters.

https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/autopilot


Considering the number of clueless human drivers I see every day, who don't even pay attention to what's 20 meters in front of them, the Teslas are way ahead.
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Old 10th December 2017, 06:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Can a programmed car possibly be safe if it cannot make moral choices of this nature?
That presupposes that a human in a similar situation has enough time to make a moral choice. My guess is that most crashes happen too fast for that to occur. The auto-cars have a much faster reaction time and may be able to avoid hitting anything in the first place.

The cars won't be making moral choices. Their programming will consist of the simple instructions of avoiding hitting any object.
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Old 10th December 2017, 08:57 AM   #16
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Old 10th December 2017, 09:41 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by crhkrebs View Post
My guess is that most crashes happen too fast for that to occur. The auto-cars have a much faster reaction time and may be able to avoid hitting anything in the first place.


Yes, this. This entire "Kill you or kill someone else" argument is a classic false dichotomy.

The cars in question will have a much better sense of the space around them, based on multiple sensors covering different ranges. They'll also have a better sense of exactly how big they are, how fast they're going, how well their tires are in contact with the road, how much time they have to react, and exactly where the other people are moving. All of that will come into play, in finding a third option that is calculated to be most likely to avoid any fatalities at all, and to minimize risk or severity of injuries if a collision cannot be completely avoided.

I bet that within a few years, we'll be seeing videos of these cars making maneuvers that no human would have ever contemplated, in order to avoid just such a you-or-them problem.
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Old 10th December 2017, 09:54 AM   #18
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A bud's wife got sued because a car packed full of frauds, who and whose lawyer had done this several times before, turned right from a side street in front of her, and she rear ended the car.

The lawyer claimed she had a choice -- she could have turned into the oncoming traffic and creamed herself and someone else, instead of rear ending their clients.




In the grand scheme of things, here are the problems with robot cars:


1. Getting to the point to simply kill fewer people than humans do.
2. Lawsuits that slow down the adoption of these cars, killing more e'en as the lawyers protest they're improving the situation.
...
99. Ethical dilemmas which result in lawsuits anyway.
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Old 10th December 2017, 08:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I think the obvious solution is that the car should be designed to protect the occupants first and others secondarily.
That's the best solution I believe. In the long run this will save the most lives.

I also don't think this dilemma will happen much because usually it should be possible to protect both.
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Old 11th December 2017, 12:37 AM   #20
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The one time I was in a serious car crash I didn't even have time to loosen my bowels.

The idea that a human driver could react faster than a computer is utterly ridiculous.
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Old 11th December 2017, 01:10 AM   #21
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
The one time I was in a serious car crash I didn't even have time to loosen my bowels.

The idea that a human driver could react faster than a computer is utterly ridiculous.
well, they can morally judge people and their actions faster than any computer.
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Old 11th December 2017, 01:29 AM   #22
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I think the issue that makes people uncomfortable is that in an accident, there is no time for a human to decide, there is no moral responsibility or blame. With self driving cars, there is an opportunity to decide ahead of time, and that power scares the crap out of people.

There's an easy solution. Just make the algorithm pick at random.
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Old 11th December 2017, 10:53 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
Yep. Teslas have three forward looking cameras, with ranges of 60, 150 and 250 meters.

https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/autopilot


Considering the number of clueless human drivers I see every day, who don't even pay attention to what's 20 meters in front of them, the Teslas are way ahead.
Tesla is a bad example. The front cameras and radar can't see 90° sideways - or even close - and the side cameras are half-way back in the car, on the central pillar.

Why they didn't incorporate sideways-looking cameras at the front is a bit of a mystery, but as built they'll be stymied when people park close to a corner and the Tesla has to get halfway into the main road for the side cameras to get a clear view.

example (sorry, the forum s/w always rotates stuff to landscape afaics):
Attached Images
File Type: jpg blocked view.jpg (101.8 KB, 9 views)
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Old 11th December 2017, 11:10 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
I think the issue that makes people uncomfortable is that in an accident, there is no time for a human to decide, there is no moral responsibility or blame. With self driving cars, there is an opportunity to decide ahead of time, and that power scares the crap out of people.
Yes, this whole, "One way you run into a schoolbus full of children and the other way you run into a bus full of senior citizens headed to the casino," bit is the extreme example. I mean, suppose the schoolbus is full of kids who are the offspring of neo-Nazis headed to a kill the Jews rally, and the seniors are stopping to vote in favor of single-payer health care on their way to the casino. What then is the proper moral course?
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Old 11th December 2017, 12:13 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Yes, this whole, "One way you run into a schoolbus full of children and the other way you run into a bus full of senior citizens headed to the casino," bit is the extreme example. I mean, suppose the schoolbus is full of kids who are the offspring of neo-Nazis headed to a kill the Jews rally, and the seniors are stopping to vote in favor of single-payer health care on their way to the casino. What then is the proper moral course?
The car cannot know or be expected to know.

Whether to hit the cow and maybe harm the solo "driver" or risk hitting the 3 schoolkids on the other side of the road is a trickier issue. What if robocar is full? Does that change the calculation?

But there's another - robotic cars are likely to be easily identifiable and prone to insurance scams. These are (or were) rife in the UK, where people would provoke minor accidents and claim whiplash injuries - hard to disprove and lucrative. If I, as a human driver, were victim of such a scam I'd lose some of my no-claims discount. If it happened to me more than once I might find insurance totally prohibitive and take to public transport. But if robotic vehicles fall foul of a swathe of such claims what happens then?

This would probably only apply to the 'mixed traffic' transition period, but that's going to be a long one.
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Old 11th December 2017, 12:23 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
But there's another - robotic cars are likely to be easily identifiable and prone to insurance scams. These are (or were) rife in the UK, where people would provoke minor accidents and claim whiplash injuries - hard to disprove and lucrative. If I, as a human driver, were victim of such a scam I'd lose some of my no-claims discount. If it happened to me more than once I might find insurance totally prohibitive and take to public transport. But if robotic vehicles fall foul of a swathe of such claims what happens then?
Easy.

They fight every single case tooth and nail so that they become unprofitable for the scam artists. And, since they will have far more actual evidence of what happened (based on the data collected by the car involved and any other related cars that happened to be in the area) they are more likely to succeed against scammers.

This is why youtube is full of Russian car videos: Russians have dash cams to prevent scammers being successful.
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Old 11th December 2017, 01:26 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The car cannot know or be expected to know.

Whether to hit the cow and maybe harm the solo "driver" or risk hitting the 3 schoolkids on the other side of the road is a trickier issue. What if robocar is full? Does that change the calculation?

But there's another - robotic cars are likely to be easily identifiable and prone to insurance scams. These are (or were) rife in the UK, where people would provoke minor accidents and claim whiplash injuries - hard to disprove and lucrative. If I, as a human driver, were victim of such a scam I'd lose some of my no-claims discount. If it happened to me more than once I might find insurance totally prohibitive and take to public transport. But if robotic vehicles fall foul of a swathe of such claims what happens then?

This would probably only apply to the 'mixed traffic' transition period, but that's going to be a long one.
The difference is that the robotic car can completely detail without error what happened in the accident, making it easy to establish who was at fault. I suspect these scam artists are going to go out of business.
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Old 11th December 2017, 01:47 PM   #28
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They might also find it harder to provoke such accidents, they won't be able to take advantage of momentary lapse of the driver's attention, because such lapses won't happen.

That will make it far less likely for such a scam to work once driverless becomes common. Scammers will only be able to provoke accidents by really pushing their behavior, and the car will be able to fully document the entire thing with multiple cameras, radar, lidar, and speed and steering information.

I suppose they'll look for some sort of oversight in the way the cars are programmed, but once that becomes apparent, the programming will change.
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Old 11th December 2017, 03:37 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Tesla is a bad example. The front cameras and radar can't see 90° sideways - or even close - and the side cameras are half-way back in the car, on the central pillar.


But they are a good example for what was being addressed, that is, looking straight down a narrow street in order to avoid oncoming traffic.

Do you expect future robocars will have less coverage than the first generation Teslas? The point is, his complaint is already irrelevant, before any actual mass production/use of robocars.
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Old 11th December 2017, 03:43 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
That will make it far less likely for such a scam to work once driverless becomes common. Scammers will only be able to provoke accidents by really pushing their behavior, and the car will be able to fully document the entire thing with multiple cameras, radar, lidar, and speed and steering information.


And the scam artists will stand out more, as actual accidents become far more rare. When scams are only, say, one in a thousand such events, it's hard to find them. When they're one in a hundred, or one in ten, or less, they'll stand out. Accidents will be so uncommon that each one will likely get incredible amounts of scrutiny, making a scam that much harder to pull off.

And repeat scams? Virtually impossible. You just might be able to convince a judge that one "accident" wasn't your fault, but two? Three? At some point people will start to wonder what exactly it is you're doing to be both the worst and unluckiest driver in the country at the same time.
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Old 11th December 2017, 04:33 PM   #31
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Guy Martin recently did a program looking at the issues with driverless cars (or even just those with AI to augment driver safety). One of the things looked at was research into the moral dilemmas. The research is suggesting that the AI should prioritise pedestrians, since they have not elected to get into the vehicle.
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Old 11th December 2017, 04:41 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Mikemcc View Post
Guy Martin recently did a program looking at the issues with driverless cars (or even just those with AI to augment driver safety). One of the things looked at was research into the moral dilemmas. The research is suggesting that the AI should prioritise pedestrians, since they have not elected to get into the vehicle.
Also since they generally have the right of way. So in some aspects they are already legally prioritized.
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Old 11th December 2017, 04:58 PM   #33
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We'll probably develop something like the 3 laws of robotics for robocars.

  1. Thou shall strive to not hit anything
  2. If thou must hit something, thou shall strive to avoid any damage
  3. If thou must cause damage, thou shall cause it to inaminate objects outside the car
  4. If thou must cause damage to the car, thou shall strive to avoid damage to a human
  5. If thou must damage a human, thou must strive to minimize any such damage


Thus, the only moral question comes in at point 5, at the earliest. If the car can figure out a solution that trashes the car or some surroundings, but which won't hurt any humans, that's what it would do.
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Old 11th December 2017, 05:09 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
We'll probably develop something like the 3 laws of robotics for robocars.

  1. Thou shall strive to not hit anything
  2. If thou must hit something, thou shall strive to avoid any damage
  3. If thou must cause damage, thou shall cause it to inaminate objects outside the car
  4. If thou must cause damage to the car, thou shall strive to avoid damage to a human
  5. If thou must damage a human, thou must strive to minimize any such damage



Thus, the only moral question comes in at point 5, at the earliest. If the car can figure out a solution that trashes the car or some surroundings, but which won't hurt any humans, that's what it would do.

Got it.....



External air bags!


System activates them when harm to an external human is imminent.
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Old 11th December 2017, 05:10 PM   #35
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The tests also assume there is a fault with the vehicle (no brakes). A human driver would still have to react and make a value judgement before an AI decides to remove motor power. In the case of electric cars they can use existing, serviceable motors to apply regenerative braking to start decelerating the car faster than a human driver could respond. Just the fact that there has been a brake failure should bring the car to a controlled stop using regen braking

It could be argued that an AI driverless car could conceivably be allowed to decelerate harder than a human driver would normally do. Bruising to the occupants (who elected to use the car and are wearing seatbelts) being acceptable compared to potentially killing a pedestrian.
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Old 11th December 2017, 05:30 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Mikemcc View Post
It could be argued that an AI driverless car could conceivably be allowed to decelerate harder than a human driver would normally do. Bruising to the occupants (who elected to use the car and are wearing seatbelts) being acceptable compared to potentially killing a pedestrian.


Yes, exactly. The robocar will be far more capable of driving at the theoretical performance limits of the car than an average, or even above average, human.

They'll also be better at using alternatives. If the car knows it can't stop using its brakes alone to stop in time, it could do things like sideswipe a building or a road barrier, in a way that damages the car, slows it down faster, but isn't as harmful to the passengers as a head-on collision with a wall or another car.

And just as importantly, we have human engineers who are, right now, trying to come up with just such situations, and figure out the best possible response, which will probably be programmed into the cars ahead of time. The car won't have to "think" of a solution, it just has to look it up.

And if it ever does find a situation that wasn't predicted, part of the after-action report will be to submit it to the designers, who will then evaluate its response, and then upload any recommendations to the database of responses. Within a few years at most, it will be exceedingly rare to find a situation that has not been planned for already.
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Old 11th December 2017, 11:08 PM   #37
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The answer to pretty much any question you can possibly have on this matter would be:

"The same way a human would. Or better."
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Old 11th December 2017, 11:41 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by This is The End View Post
The answer to pretty much any question you can possibly have on this matter would be:

"The same way a human would. Or better."
A human wouldn't. That's the point. There isn't time.
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Old 12th December 2017, 08:38 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I saw hardtalk on TV last night and it posed some interesting problems for driverless cars. For example, if a driverless car was going to crash and possibly kill the occupants but to swerve to avoid the collision would mean running down a group of pedestrians what would the car do?

Can a programmed car possibly be safe if it cannot make moral choices of this nature?

Not only that but even programming a car to read the road ahead and pull over to allow oncoming traffic would be difficult. Would all cars be programmed to give way, if so would it not cause traffic jams?

It also occurred to me that if you programmed a car to drive aggressively then cars would be fighting for a parking space, and that could cause accidents.

I am hoping that this problem will not affect me, and I will not live long enough to see the only taxis available will be driverless, Or that all buses will be driverless, because I don't want to ride in one.
A lot more mundane things need to be resolved first, like driving in snow and ice. How does the car get out if stuck in the snow, can it rock back and forth? Will the car even allow you to travel if it deems conditions are too bad?

The cars already can go around vehicles so can navigate narrow corridors or move around into oncoming traffic lane when it is clear. As noted, Waymo has cars now that do not have a driver and GM will be mass producing cars in the near future.

ETA: More than 90% of accidents are directly the result of human error, leading to over 35,000 deaths per year. If autonomous technology can cut that number in half to start, that is a huge positive.
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Old 14th December 2017, 02:16 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
A human wouldn't. That's the point. There isn't time.

That's the "or better" part.
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