Tweet of the Day, This Is Why We Don’t Have Self-Driving Cars edition.

OK, I’m going to cheat, here.

The answer to the ‘Should the self-driving car hit the pedestrians, killing X number of people- or swerve and hit the barrier, killing Y number of people?’ is ‘The self-driving car should hit the emergency brakes and loudly sound the horn.’ And then when anybody says ‘But that’s not an option!’ then you say ‘THEN YOU MAY NOT HAVE SELF-DRIVING CARS.’ I understand that this is supposed to be a variant of the classic ‘trolley argument,’ but then there’s this quote: “However, with self-driving technology now a reality, philosophers, lawmakers and manufacturers alike are weighing up if and how cars should be programmed to make such moral decisions.”

…So if it’s a manufacturing question then the answer is to first manufacture cars that can stop suddenly and emit warning noises.  Because that way maybe we can have a scenario where nobody dies.  That’s the superior ethical solution, right?

10 thoughts on “Tweet of the Day, This Is Why We Don’t Have Self-Driving Cars edition.”

  1. Hard cases make bad law. You can guarantee the manufacturers are going to lobby hard for narrow and limited legal indemnification.

    I personally look forward to the NRA campaign “guns don’t kill people, automated cars do.”

  2. Why is this even a question?
    A driver will almost always opt for self-preservation. An automated car that fails to do likewise is clearly an inferior product to the person who buys and operates the car.
    Likewise, roads are for cars. Paid for by taxing cars and their use. Pedestrians have very little claim to them.
    Sure, we can think happy thoughts about pedestrians actually following the law and staying out of the road except for narrowly defined exceptions.
    But if urban environs have taught us anything, it’s that extra latitude for pedestrian safety will be abused.
    SomethingMuch better for them to know right up front that there’s a bright line rule, and if they violate it, the consequences are on them.
    See also: recent riots.

    1. Because one of the ways the idea of self-driving cars is being sold is that they’ll be *better* than human-driven cars ..
      As with most advertising, they hype the good (“No more driving across InfiNebraska, just get in, tell the car where you’re going, and play a videogame while the car handles the endless miles of grasslands”) without mentioning the bad (“the safety protocols are going to kill people too .. just hopefully less of them…”) .. as marketing is wont to do.

  3. A) snow plows at even moderate speed would be extremely effective.
    B) pass a law barring any civil lawsuits brought by people engaged in a criminal act.
    C) extend castle doctrine to cover occupies of a motor vehicle.

    1. I’m all for bringing back the concept of outlawry. I don’t know why we ever got away from it in the first place.

  4. As a profession driver, and someone who lives in Central Florida where I believe most people think that they get bonus points for all the accidents they cause, my question is; can’t we go for option D and outlaw any vehicles that eliminates a human operator?

      1. …. and?
        They wouldn’t be the first predators behind the wheel, and the idea that they might get out of the cars and go after pedestrians after an accident may encourage better behavior from the pedestrians ..

Comments are closed.