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Self-Driving Cars -- Needs of the Many vs Numero Uno
Old 06-29-2016, 04:09 PM   #1
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Self-Driving Cars -- Needs of the Many vs Numero Uno

Saw a good ethical discussion on the morning news about self-driving cars and the ethical decisions.

Quote:
Self-driving cars offer many promises for an improved experience on the road. They can increase traffic efficiency, reduce pollution, and eliminate up to 90 percent of traffic accidents, developers claim. Unlike human drivers, they don't get distracted, they don't fall asleep or text behind the wheel, and they don't drive drunk.

But as autonomous cars move closer to hitting the roads, a new ethical dilemma is coming to light - how will they make potentially life-or-death decisions that are instinctive to human beings? "You're also going to have to program ethics in a way that society hasn't dealt with.
Can self-driving cars be programmed to make ethical decisions? - CBS News

Makes me think about Star Trek in "The Wrath of Con" where Spock and Kirk weigh the needs of the many vs the need of the one.

Even more, if the decisions of ethical questions are programmed into self-driving cars in the future, doesn't that take away freedom of choice which is a big part of what makes us human? Do we want to give up that choice? Food for thought.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:13 PM   #2
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Khaaaaaaaaan! not Con


If the car is going to sacrifice me at the expense of some pedestrians, I think I'd rather drive myself.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:19 PM   #3
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Having spent the last few days driving up and down the northeastern seaboard , I am anxiously awaiting self driving cars. There are far too many dangerous drivers out there, including the so called "professional drivers" of big rigs, one of which almost wiped out my family.

Self driving vehicles will frustrate many , but on major highways, like Route 95 on the East Coast they are desperately needed to protect the masses.

Keep the side roads for manual driving options , but the big highways would definitely benefit from self driving vehicles...as would my blood pressure.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:19 PM   #4
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If the car is going to sacrifice me for the benefit of some younger people/pregnant woman, etc., I'd definitely rather be driving!
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:02 PM   #5
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One of the things that I wonder is what happens when the car goes off course... IOW, say it take evasive action and is now in a field or going into a ditch... does it know how to get back on the road?


I also think there are limitations in this question.... IOW, say a pedestrian jumps out in front of you.... well, there is a limit to what the car can do at speed... I would say that it should try and stop as best it can, but not swerve to avoid the hit... swerving in a car can be very bad... I almost lost one of my sisters who flipped her truck and hit her head on the highway.... my BIL always says hit it head on, the car is designed to take that more than a rollover...
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:03 PM   #6
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One benefit of self-driving cars is that whole "it's time to tell Dad he's not really able to drive any more" can be diverted to "it's time to tell Dad to let Google drive".

A lot of older folks don't like to give up the independence, and drive longer than it appears safe to do so... this gives an option that's safer for everyone.
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:04 PM   #7
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Think of the insurance companies and how they will assess risk of self driving cars and the situations they can create or be put into. Notice they are not part of the conversation?
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:13 PM   #8
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Think of the insurance companies and how they will assess risk of self driving cars and the situations they can create or be put into. Notice they are not part of the conversation?
ask an actuary? go figure...
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Big_Hitter View Post
Khaaaaaaaaan! not Con


If the car is going to sacrifice me at the expense of some pedestrians, I think I'd rather drive myself.

Of course, Khaaaaan! Ooops! My alibi is I was in a rush.

For me, I'd think self-driving cars will be safer. Yet at the same time, if a split second decision is needed to either preserve my life or another, I'd rather the decision done by me than Robocar going on pre-determined rules determined by the powers that be.

I suppose self-driving cars could always have an autopilot override so the two, humans and Robocar can co-exist and the choice to override or not is still up to the human.
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:38 PM   #10
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It will be a long time, if ever, before drivers won't be able to take over manual control of the vehicle as I understand it. When you get to your destination, I wouldn't expect the car to choose and parking space for me?

I can't believe drivers will accept cars with no manual controls at the outset, so the manual option will remain at least for some (extended) period. So just as the commercial airlines we've flown for years are on autopilot for most of the trip, the pilots can take over manual control, and do for taxiing, takeoffs, landings and/or extreme turbulence.

If autonomous cars ever get so good they can always make better decisions than the "driver," we can face the hypothetical ethical dilemma then...

Properly implemented, autonomous cars will reduce accidents dramatically, along with insurance claims But if the expectation is autonomous cars will always be perfect, we may be disappointed.
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:43 PM   #11
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One thought is that it would have to be something like a head on at 70 mph for this to be an issue. Given all the airbags current cars have and assuming the car does not start moving without the seatbelt being fastened, Short of a head on or a side impact at 70 the car protects. Add to this the roll cage and side impact bars, and collapseable front and rears and the design that does not put the engine in ones lap in the event of a head on (see the film of a recent test of a 59 Chevy in a head on, the engine ended up where the driver was.). Also a self driving car should never be engaged in a rear end accident, as some models today will already stop autonomously if a rear end accident appears likley. (plus 18 wheelers have the bars down low to prevent submarining in the event of a crash with an 18 wheeler)
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:50 PM   #12
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It will be a long time, if ever, before drivers won't be able to take over manual control of the vehicle as I understand it. When you get to your destination, I wouldn't expect the car to choose and parking space for me?

I can't believe drivers will accept cars with no manual controls at the outset, so the manual option will remain at least for some (extended) period. So just as the commercial airlines we've flown for years are on autopilot for most of the trip, the pilots can take over manual control, and do for taxiing, takeoffs, landings and/or extreme turbulence.

If autonomous cars ever get so good they can always make better decisions than the "driver," we can face the hypothetical ethical dilemma then...

Properly implemented, autonomous cars will reduce accidents dramatically, along with insurance claims But if the expectation is autonomous cars will always be perfect, we may be disappointed.


I saw (IIRC it was 60 minutes) a show with a European car company that had autonomous cars... and they had a feature that I will call 'alert the driver'.... IOW, if there was a situation that it was unsure of, it would alert the driver that they might or should take over.... the thing is that in the show the time it did so it was already past the potential problem by the time the driver reacted....


Now, according to one of the articles I read about them is that it can pick out a parking space... IOW, it takes you to a drop off point and then goes find a parking space.... you signal for it to come back and pick you up!!!

Also, there was the talk about it could just drive around in a congested city looking for a spot but if it did not find out could just keep driving until you called it back...

I think these are many years in the future.... however, I would like some of the driver assists that are now available... even though I love driving... my last two accidents were me being stupid... going to a highway feeder road and having to turn right and look left to make sure no traffic is coming.... both times the car or truck (which was really bad since it totaled out my car) had made the turn but then stopped right after making the turn... so I thought they had gone and looked left and it was 'open' and BAM, hit the car/truck.... a brake assist would have stopped both of these accidents...
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Old 06-29-2016, 06:07 PM   #13
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I saw (IIRC it was 60 minutes) a show with a European car company that had autonomous cars... and they had a feature that I will call 'alert the driver'.... IOW, if there was a situation that it was unsure of, it would alert the driver that they might or should take over.... the thing is that in the show the time it did so it was already past the potential problem by the time the driver reacted....
Not only could the warning be too late, but the driver will likely be texting, on the phone, picking their nose, sleeping, or not paying attention for a multitude of reasons because the car is doing the driving, which further adds to their response time. Add to that the driver's diminished skills because their car has done all the driving for the last few years and a worst case moment to give control back to a human has just been created...
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Old 06-29-2016, 07:39 PM   #14
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I think liability concerns will be a big influence in how (and whether) self-driving cars evolve. If I am driving and make a bad decision, the harmed party can sue me. But my pockets are only so deep. If a computer is driving and makes a bad decision, the manufacturer, who has much deeper pockets will be liable.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:02 PM   #15
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To paraphrase the statement from the NRA:

They will have to pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hands.

Being a car guy and one that actually enjoys driving, no self driving cars for me. I even drive my old cars that don't have 14 airbags, no anti-lock brakes, lowback seats without headrests, no door crash bars, no deliberately designed in crash crumple zones, or many of the other mandated safety features new cars have. I do put seatbelts if they are not equipped originally. At least for now it is still a free country where we can make our own choices. Just not my choice to have any self-driving car at this point in my life or any long term future plans.

I can understand that self-driving cars do have some ethical dilemma issues to resolve in the programming. I do believe they can make the overall accident rate go down, help with congestion, and provide independence for those that can't or shouldn't drive. So I am not a complete luddite, just put me in the way-late adopter category.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
If the car is going to sacrifice me for...
...any reason, I'm looking for another ride.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:10 PM   #17
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I have no problem with self driving cars making ethical decisions like that, as long as they take certain parameters into consideration. Like, is the pedestrian an idiot that just walked out into traffic? If so, mow him down. I don't think that would be any harder to program than the other choices. I'll do it for free.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:17 PM   #18
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Speaking of self driving cars.... some people NEED them...

I just got home from going out on an errand... and watched as some idiot drove through a stop sign at 40 mph.... lucky nobody was there.... but said idiot probably did not even know they blasted through it...
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:09 PM   #19
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What I'd like to see first is 'smart traffic lights'. With all this talk of smart cars driving themselves, I think smart traffic lights could use much of the same technology, would be so much simpler, and have (I think) none of the risks of self-driving cars.

The idea would be, use some of the self-driving technology so that the traffic control system can see the cars approaching an intersection. The system could then make intelligent decisions on which lanes should get green/yellow/red or a green arrow. And I assume today's traffic lights are hard-wired so you can't give greens to opposing traffic, so any risk seems almost zero.

1) Fuel/brake/time savings -like a traffic cop, the system could turn green for an approaching car if there are no cross traffic cars approaching. No more stopping and waiting for no reason.

2) Safety on left turns - I think left turns are the most accident prone? I know here, left turn lanes back up, and cars rush to try to get through to avoid another cycle, and it gets hairy. The system would prioritize left turning traffic, allowing it to clear before allowing cross traffic, instead of a fixed time. Maybe some flashing of the yellow-to-red to warn left turners that they are not going to be allowed to go, they really do have to stop and wait their turn this time.

3) Safety on unexpected actions - If someone is approaching a red light, and not slowing down, the system could start flashing reds for ALL lanes (maybe a siren as well). Avoid an accident from a distracted driver.

4) No more 'right on red' with risk of being rear ended. You would have a red like everyone else, unless it was clear - then you get a green arrow.

Probably a bunch of other scenarios, and if installations were prioritized to busy/dangerous intersections, there would probably be more overall benefit than the small number of self-driving cars. The lights in use 24x7x365, the car only the hours it is being driven. Seems like more bang for the buck.

And without needing to be mobile, the tech should be cheaper. And what they learn could advance the eventual self driving car tech.

And I think the self driving cars should be taking the path of the current driver assist, plus making sure the driver is alert and involved, before they start taking over for the driver. Monitor the eyes, to make sure the driver is paying attention.

-ERD50
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:33 PM   #20
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Zero interest in self driving cars. Just not for me...
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