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Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

(OP)
Design Engineering magazine has an article, Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Is this even a valid concept? An autonomous vehicle should refrain from smashing into stuff. If the vehicle has to decide between hitting a baby carriage or a pair of old people, it probably has been driving too fast for the conditions. If these are autonomous weapons, the discussion is even more complicated.

--
JHG

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

No.

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

It feels like we're coming-up on Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics":

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Roboti...

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RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

The problem is with the first law... by action or inaction, a human life is lost... which one to choose, is the dilemma.

Dik

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Most discussion of this assumes perfect information is available, which of course all journalists and legal hacks possess.

Given the usual information available one merely bounces between perceived hazards and hopefully arrive at a least worst option, on average.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

" arrive at a least worst option...", that sums it up Greg...

Dik

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

"If the vehicle has to decide between hitting a baby carriage or a pair of old people, it probably has been driving too fast for the conditions."

There are lots of situations that are completely outside of the car's control. It, nor you, can drive as if in any instant, there will be a runaway baby carriage, or woman being pushed in front of the car that forces that decision. An excellent example just happened: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/201... Amazing, the bus driver was able to miss hitting a woman who was intentionally pushed toward the oncoming bus, but in any number of other conditions, the woman would have likely died.

But, in general, can human drivers do this problem any better? We're talking a hypothetical case where such a decision has to be made in fractions of a second.

Machines actually have an advantage that humans don't; they can be programmed to sacrifice themselves (Law 3 above) for a human, while a human's self-preservation instinct potentially overrides other options that might avoid that dilemma, or not. There have been a couple of news items where people drowned trying to save someone else, even though they, themselves, weren't swimmers.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

The car self-destructs and the driver is the 'cannon fodder'... better him than the sweet little ol' lady or the baby... problem solved...

Dik

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

I did see a suggestion that given the ubiquity of mobile phones, why waste time trying to identify the targets visually when you could just 'ping' all the phones in the vicinity? Of course being squashed by an AV because your phone went flat is a bit rough, maybe this should be treated as an add-on! Watching the current computer vision toolboxes trying to work in a street market is pretty interesting, hopefully the car will be programmed to slow down when the environment is too complex.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

slow down...and watch it become more congested... oh, boy. Will everything come to a stop?

Dik

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Quote (GregLocock)

I did see a suggestion that given the ubiquity of mobile phones, why waste time trying to identify the targets visually when you could just 'ping' all the phones in the vicinity? Of course being squashed by an AV because your phone went flat is a bit rough, maybe this should be treated as an add-on! Watching the current computer vision toolboxes trying to work in a street market is pretty interesting, hopefully the car will be programmed to slow down when the environment is too complex.

If you asked me (you didn't.) this IS. A. TERRIBLE. IDEA.

Old people and babies, who are often central to these ethical dilemma word problems, often don't carry modern phones. Whether the ethical word problem is representative of the ethical dilemmas likely to be encountered by an autonomous vehicle is another question entirely..

Either way, you don't want to make vehicle path decisions based on bluetooth connectivity.

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

As I said, it would have to be an add-on, not a replacement for vision. Success would be that cars no longer drive into pedestrians. That's about a quarter of a million deaths a year according to one biased estimate http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/mak... .

65% of the world's population uses mobile phones (OK that's not the same as carrying one) and 1.5 billion are sold every year. Wow.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Ethical? Highly likely. Moral? Good luck quantifying that.

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Incidentally I also saw a proposal that the industrial exemption for engineers should be removed so that whoever signs off AV software is professionally liable. I thought that was hysterically funny. The law of unintended consequences and all that.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Greg... you likely had no idea that the invention of the photocopy machine would lead to a huge market for filing cabinets...

Dik

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

(OP)
GregLocock,

If the robot is losing control, it at least ought to be able to choose between a Ford and a Chevrolet.

--
JHG

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Is runaway train an autonomous vehicle?

"For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"
Arthur C. Clarke Profiles of the future

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

I'm sure it's not so much a question of "if" as it is "how will it be legislated". In order for automakers to eventually lead to full autonomy, the algorithms will have to be based on and protected by law.

I cannot see automakers commit to 100% autonomy if they are still poised to be sued by everyone and their uncle ranging from emotional distress (I'm an animal rights activist, and the car ran over the squirrel instead of that person), to hate crimes (I think the car chose to hit Group A and not Group B because there were more people of race/ethnicity X in Group A).

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

At least some of the big players have said (a) they'll self-insure and (b) current law is adequate. I wouldn't get too het up, L5 autonomy is a long way off in my opinion.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

there was an online poll(in a fully graphical interface, like a computer game) some years ago where you had to choose whom to overrun (imagine your car's brakes failed, and you can swerve in another lane but there are people crossing over both lanes).
choices were, a.o., a mother and a baby, two elder people, a robber, children, ...

your actions were "evaluated" based upon the number of kills, the ethnical background of your victims, whether or not you swerved (obeing trafic regulations, ...)
The purpose was, if I recall correctly, to measure human decision driving factors so they could be implemented in autonomous vehicles.

I slept bad after this test.

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RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

(OP)

Quote (kingnero)

...the ethnical background of your victims

Is that ethical or ethnic? smile

If you are doing aerobatics at an airshow, there is an understanding that if you lose control, you make sure the plane does not land in the crowd, even if that means not bailing out. If you are driving a car and the brakes fail, you generally have the option of driving into a tree or over a cliff or into a wall, thus (probably) injuring only yourself. It was your car and your brakes.

--
JHG

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

Every decision I made in that poll was based upon rules of the road. If I was offered the choice of running over two old people on the sidewalk or a gaggle of schoolchildren in the middle of the road when the light was green, I chose running down the children. The old people shouldn't be punished because they're old and somehow less useful to society... the children were where they shouldn't be, and as rulebreakers should be the first to get "punished".

That was the intent of that poll, to see how the average driver decided what to do in situations where there wasn't a correct answer, only shades of gray. To me, the guilty (rulebreakers) were always punished before the innocents (rule followers).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

@ drawoh, nice catch, I'm not a native english speaker so those details (to me at least!) don't really trigger my brain.

@ MacGyverS2000, the poll I mentioned included many choices were both were obeing all regulations, so basically you had to choose between a mother with a buggy and two elderly...

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http://be.linkedin.com/in/fusionpoint

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

(OP)
MacGyverS2000,

My problem with this is that these ethical emergencies represent a narrow range of circumstances. For example, the RMS Lusitania did not capture the Blue Riband on her maiden voyage. She encountered fog, and she slowed down and arrived two days late. In 1930, RMS Olympic rammed and sunk a lightship off New York City. There were complaints afterwards that Olympic habitually sped through the fog. In between these two events, the captain of RMS Titanic had to make the ethical decision of who got into the lifeboats.

How do Asimov's three laws of robotics address risk? If my robot is flying an airliner, at what point does it refuse to take off, or if flying, head for the nearest airport not affected by the hurricane? There is an economic cost and even physical risk to people arriving at their destinations late.

--
JHG

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

So if there is a glitch in it's programming then we are blaming the vehicle, right?

My question is why would you program human ethical behaviour into the vehicle when we all know that humans are flawed?

RE: Can autonomous vehicles make moral and ethical decisions?

When a driver makes an "eye to eye" contact with a pedestrian for instance, the pedestrian´s action could be anticipated. I suspect that part of this process in not 100% rational or put in a different way, I can hardly imagine how that process could be captured in an algorithm whatever the level of sophistication of the said algorithm. So maybe we could consider rule #4...when robots are proposed for deployment into new applications, the principle of parsimony shall apply.
As corollary, it could imply that any proposal for new deployment (e.g. autonomous vehicle) shall be scrutinized until the nature of the proposal is sufficiently evidenced as a "must have" while satisfying a local optimum (on a single event, the robot shall not be outperformed by a human in any circumstances) and a global optimum (on average superior social and economical benefit for the public).

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