Autonomous War Games: The Only Way To Win is Not To Drive
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said Thursday that in the future, self-driving cars may be forced into the moral quandary between saving its driver or saving the public in massive, horrific crashes.
We already know that.
What researchers are now looking at is whether people would be interested in buying cars that would knowingly sacrifice their drivers in order to serve the greater good.
(In our best Richard Dawson voice) “Survey says … “
… not really!
From the report:
In general, people are comfortable with the idea that self-driving vehicles should be programmed to minimize the death toll.
This utilitarian approach is certainly laudable but the participants were willing to go only so far. “[Participants] were not as confident that autonomous vehicles would be programmed that way in reality—and for a good reason: they actually wished others to cruise in utilitarian autonomous vehicles, more than they wanted to buy utilitarian autonomous vehicles themselves,” conclude Bonnefon and co.
And therein lies the paradox. People are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.
The ol’ NIMBY excuse!
“Algorithmic morality” is a real possibility as more cars on the roads will be self-driving or fully autonomous in the future.
As researchers at MIT pointed out, the situation would pose a Catch 22 for autonomous automakers: How do they sell a car that’s willing to sacrifice its occupants to a world looking to become safer, but doesn’t want to sacrifice themselves in the process?
Research is in early phases, but we’ll watch with baited breath to see the final analysis.
Of course there’s a rabbit’s hole of mitigating factors to consider when the robots take over the world: What’s the average age of the occupants? Could the impacted survive? Do you want to play a game with me?
These are important questions, people.
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