The dilemma of the driverless car in case of a mishap remains an unresolved conundrum. Should it save the passenger (that is you) or the people on the road.
Human beings are moral creatures despite all attempts by nihilists and anarchists at minimizing the moral imperative. One thing which has our postmodern denizens confused is the dilemma of the driverless car.
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In what amounted to quite a few surveys, people were asked this question: a car is about to hit a couple of pedestrians and the only way it can save them is by skidding off the road and killing you in the process. What would you do?
The subjects said that to save the people on the road was more important than saving the passenger. This sort of response is obviously utilitarian in its nature. It saves the greatest number of lives possible.
To save one in place of many may be the gravest form of injustice. Yet there is a catch to it all. The participants in the survey didn’t want to be in the car when the accident took place. It is indeed a thorny issue where intelligent machines are concerned.
To construct ethical automatic machines is not a small task. It is the most difficult of things to do in the world. Artificial intelligence needs a ton of resources to resolve the moral dilemmas that crop up at every turn of the design process.
Once driverless cars become the norm, such ethical conundrums will crop up at every turn. Rules and regulations will have to be instituted in order for the instruction manuals to guide the owners in the proper protocol required.
The programming of these driverless cars has to be micromanaged. Despite a manual override alternative given in these driverless cars, sometimes the situation is sudden and spontaneous. The passenger cannot wrest control of the car and act in the heat of the moment.
While it seems almost paradoxical, driverless cars may create a safer world for you, me and everyone else. In the USA, 35,000 deaths occur annually from traffic accidents.
This hardly covers the millions of people who end up with serious injuries incurred in the accidents. 90% of the mishaps are due to bad judgment by human beings.
Driverless cars will be a better deal than sole reliance on human abilities. However, there remain certain dilemmas that still dog the steps of these marvels of AI. There are some ethical riddles that do not have a simple and straightforward solution.
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The paper, "The social dilemma of autonomous vehicles," is being published in the journal Science. The authors are Jean-Francois Bonnefon of the Toulouse School of Economics; Azim Shariff, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon; and Rahwan, the AT&T Career Development Professor and an associate professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab.