The Chainlink

Self-Driving Cars May Be Programmed to Sacrifice Cyclists in a Crash

Driverless cars could be programmed to kill cyclists rather than injuring the vehicle's occupants due to its moral decision making process. 

"Consider an autonomous car that is deciding where to position itself in a lane closer to oncoming traffic, or a bicycle lane on its right. Ethical judgments will have to be programmed into these cars."

Another difficult dilemma to face in the near future.

Illinois is  beginning to prepare for the self-driving future.

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I'm planning to tape a large photo of a group of schoolchildren on my back. 'No way the software chooses the vehicle driver over a group of defenseless kiddies. Oh, a few baby ducks, puppies, and kittens in the photo should help, too.

No, that won't work. You need the new Raytheon laser directed image projector to holographically  display an approaching cement truck upon the windshield of the target vehicle. The latest model does all this automatically with an AI driven system that superpositions the desired image with sufficient realism that the human eye cannot tell the difference. It also comes equipped with both infrared and radar spoofing countermeasures to defeat any commonly used radio frequency sensors. Now this baby doesn't come cheap, mind you. But like any other technology, the price will fall rapidly within a year or so, especially once the Chinese get a hold of it.  

ABATE of Illinois has announced that they are withdrawing their endorsement of Bruce Rauner over his stance on autonomous cars.

"ABATE of Illinois Political Action Committee is disappointed in Governor Rauner signing an executive order opening Illinois roads to autonomous vehicles with no safeguards. It has been our policy when working with elected officials on issues to hear what they say, but see what they do."

I thought it was interesting that ABATE was opposed to autonomous vehicles.  Apparently, they have evidence that computer vision systems on cars do not reliably detect motorcycles.  Presumably, they would have the same problem with bicycles.

Eventually, we'll have transponders, just like airplanes do today, and it will be illegal to ride without one. 

On the flip side, they won't run red lights, mow cyclists down while surfing Instagram, or leave the bar after "just a few" and kill a bunch of innocent people. 

So... there's that I guess.

Self-driving cars may never catch on for the simple reason that they won't drive 50+mph in 30mph zones.

Joking aside, the ability to keep up with the flow of traffic is a significant issue, regardless of the posted speed limit. Traffic moving at wildly varying speeds is dangerous, and I don't want to be the passenger in a car doing the speed limit on the Dan Ryan when the other cars are whizzing by me at 75+ mph.

What frightens me as a driver or passenger is watching those speeding jackasses who seem to think they're in an action movie, going 30 or 40mph over the limit and weaving in and out of the flow of traffic, cutting in front of semis with inches to spare.

I hope you're right, but inevitably, some hacker will defeat the system. 

There are a whole bunch of decisions like that.  Should autonomous cars maximize safety of its occupants or minimize loss of life?  There are situations where these come into conflict. If the best for society is minimize loss of life, then maybe no one will want to ride in an autonomous car.  Although if they were widely adopted we would all be safer on the road.

I would rather take my chances being a victim on my bike from a calculated loss minimization than I do now taking my chances against human error and emotion.

I had not thought about what the market will be for jackets or devices designed to trick the computer vision of autonomous cars as road uses try to protect themselves. The picture of children on your shirt might not be that far off.


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