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The philosophical problems with self-driving cars

Posted by Curt Anderson 
The philosophical problems with self-driving cars
January 10, 2017 10:21PM
There are some interesting philosophical problems with self-driving cars. These problems are a result of how self-driving cars are programmed. Here are some examples:

If a self-driving car is on an interstate highway moving at 65 mph, and a pedestrian illegally on the highway steps in front of the car, what evasive maneuvers does the car take? Does it risk harming or killing the passengers of the car or killing people in another vehicle to avoid the pedestrian? Or does it brake hard and stay in the same lane as the pedestrian even though it will probably hit and kill the pedestrian?

When traffic is heavy and all the cars are creeping along, some drivers will attempt to cut in front of you. When it's between humans, the weaving lane jumper has to wonder if you are the sort of driver who would ram them or let them cut. They usually try to catch your eye to test your reaction (and personality) by inching in. It's a essentially a game of chicken in which the least polite and aggressive driver wins. If that same lane cutting driver knows it's a self-driving car, they know that car will stop to avoid a collision as soon they start to inch in front of it.

It's a similar thing with jay-walkers and drivers at intersections. They know that the self-driving car is extremely deferential and something of a wimp so they can cross in front of it with impunity whether they have the right of way or not.



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Re: The philosophical problems with self-driving cars
January 11, 2017 12:55AM
Forget who it was - Bill Gates or Elon Musk - who said five years after self-driving cars are the norm, people will no longer buy cars.
Re: The philosophical problems with self-driving cars
March 03, 2017 08:11PM
"what freakin' bizarre world did I wake up in?"

I have big reservations about automated cars. I don't fully trust humans drivers, but machines are no better than
the people who make them. I have enough trouble when household machines go haywire on me (remote stuck on
fwd & wont play, a toaster that cooks too fast, etc.). There is no substitute for human intuition.

I also think it takes the fun out of it for a lot of us too. If we refuse to buy them, they will stop making them.
The customer ultimately get what it wants in the law of supply & demand . . . but only if we speak up.
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