Autonomous War Games: The Only Way To Win is Not To Drive

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

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.

Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

More by Aaron Cole

Join the conversation
4 of 126 comments
  • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on Oct 25, 2015

    @Xeranar I didn't say that Alinsky was either a good or a bad person, simply that he was a self-acknowledged Communist. I did not hold Carson up as an example of racism. I simply said that "SOME" (a key word) on the left treated him as a token black who should be ignored as part of the black race's political spectrum, and that those people (not me) consider him to be an oreo and an Uncle Tom. I don't have a link at my fingertips, but I'd bet you even money I can find more than one such example in the blogosphere it were worth my while. You yourself do seem to provide evidence of the leftward lean of faculties on college campuses, especially in the liberal arts wing of them. And although I believe that there is evidence that Communism (especially of the Stalin/Pol Pot variety) has led to as many deaths as the Holocaust, if not more, I don't deny that some on the right of done things antithetical to the principles our country was founded out. But that doesn't mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. I claim that Obama was 100% wrong when he said "if you have a business, you didn't build that business", and Hillary was wrong when she said "it takes a village". Businesses and economies are supported and affected by government (when it works correctly) but it seldom if ever creates economic growth. And while a village might help to raise a child, it is a mother and father (perhaps of whatever gender origin/ID, if you insist) to do a complete and adequate job, if it is done right. Please try to let your passions and emotions sit down in the back seat of your mind, and let your critical faculties drive. I sincerely have no doubt that if you look closely, upon reflection you will see that, as I claim, I didn't say things likek Alinsky was bad, but rather that you assumed that since I pointed out he was a Communist, I thought that made him a bad person, for example. BTW, there is another person, whose name escapes me, who has done a great deal to show how societies can create a groundswell movement to transform their societies and governments, though I am too busy to look him up now. And he has managed to do so, on a scale easily the equal to, and probably far exceeding, Alinsky's reach, without the anti-capitalist/pro-Communist baggage of Alinsky. Though just to stretch your mind, I think that there is clear evidence that the Castros rule in a completely dictatorial manner, and that they betrayed the democratic (with a small d) aspirations of many of their compadres (Cienfuegos, Matos, died mysteriously and 20 yrs in prison, respectively), but I also believe that they brought about many material benefits to the average person that did not occur in some (but not all) other parts of Latin America. Though their communist central planning ideals undercut much of the good that was "left on the table" due to planning errors that brooked no criticism. Capitalism, done correctly, is still the best system for growth, the concentration of wealth and power, leading to effectively regressive taxation and increasing concentration of wealth, is a severe aberration that tends to undercut the good that can and often has arisen out of it. When it comes to economies and government policies, the Buddhist Middle Path seems to be extremely rare and elusive.

  • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on Oct 25, 2015

    PS Xeranar, I did look closer at Jindal, on your advice, and yes, he has failed to live up to his earlier promise. And I have started to come around to the view that Jeb is not just a yet another Bush candidate...seems to have a mind and a platform of his own. But the Republican party of late seems to have found ways to push platforms that are neither consistent with their historical principles or the will of a sizable segment of the fiscally conservative (and sometimes even socially liberal) electorate. Not that the Dems are doing much better, policy wise. Just PR wise. Or at least that is my opinion. I would be curious to see who you want in the WH next time. And for the record, I believe that Obama's greatest weakness is not his political roots, it is his duplicity and chameleon like willingness to say whatever seems to be politically expedient. And for all the talk about how GWB and Dick Cheney mishandled the war on terrorism, the Bin Laden takedown and Benghazi were totally bungled, and transparently lied about, in the name of "public interest". And these things had real consequences. There is no plausible explanation for not dispatching "the cavalry" to rescue Chris Stevens and his companions in Benghazi, and the story that the administration spun about the OBL takedown led to the betrayal of a couple of senior Pakistani ISI officers who willingly put OBL in the crosshairs for Obama. The story that was never supposed to have been told, of their involvement, has ended up with both of them in prison, and facing long prison terms, ostensibly for "corruption and bribery" but no doubt in reality as punishment for betraying a Muslim brother and "guest" (but probably actual prisoner) of Pakistan and the ISI. So it is Obama's and Hillary's character, as much as their politics, that concerns me. I am sure that there are Republican counterexamples, and perhaps Dem ones as well, but those are not, for the most part, the names we hear about. I hope that our country's direction improves over time, but with a 21 year old son, I sincerely worry that instead it may be headed in a worse direction, aided and abet by the inside the Beltway and Wall Street power structure. As I said before, Perot was correct about the "giant sucking sound of jobs leaving our country." And programs like H1-B are nothing but corporate welfare in disguise, under the guise of helping bring new talent into our country. Believe me, anyone who has had direct experience of the kind of candidates that usually are presented, and who doesn't have a direct financial stake in keeping the game going, can easily confirm what I say.

    • See 1 previous
    • RideHeight RideHeight on Oct 27, 2015

      @shaker You've caused me to begin checking out Sander's schtick. My initial impression is that in his mind, it's still 1963.

  • Aja8888 Folks, this car is big enough to live in. Dual deal: house and car for $7 large.
  • Astigmatism I don't think tax credits will put me in this league, but if I could swing it, I would 1000% go for a restomod EV Grand Wagoneer:
  • FreedMike I like the looks of the Z, but I'd take the Mustang. V8s are a disappearing breed.
  • Picard234 I can just smell the clove cigarettes and the "oregano" from the interior. Absolutely no dice at any price.
  • Dartdude The Europeans don't understand the American market. That is why they are small players here. Chrysler Group is going to die pretty soon under their control. Europeans have a sense of superiority over Americans that is why the Mercedes merger didn't work out and almost killed Chrysler. Bringing European managers aren't going to help. Just like F1 they want our money. We need Elon Musk to buy out Chrysler, Dodge and Ram from Stellantis.