[ExI] Do robot cars need ethics as well?

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Thu Nov 29 20:59:43 UTC 2012

On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 6:26 PM, Adrian Tymes  wrote:
>> The correct decision, and the one taught by any state-licensed
>> driver's ed course in the US, is to maintain enough awareness and
>> reaction distance so that this never happens in the first place.
> Yes, it would be nice if we could plan to avoid having to make choices
> between two evils. But unfortunate situations will still arise.

Certain ones will.  But other situations can be hypothesized that
are more unfortunate than will actually occur.  Further, important
details are often left out that make the choice in practice simpler.

For instance in this case: a bus swerves in front of you.  Do you
swerve to avoid or no?  Well...this place that you would be
swerving to, is it safe & clear?  Is there a wall there, such that
swerving would not prevent your impact with the bus but would
damage your car (and potentially you) further?

By analogy - say you're a cop who's arrested someone who
you believe has planted a bomb.  Do you torture him to find out
where the bomb is?  This is a standard hypothetical used to
defend torture, but...in most cases, you can be fairly confident
that the bomber will tell you of *a* location, and by the time
you investigate only to find there is no bomb there then go
back and ask again, the bomb will have gone off.  This is
especially the case where the cop hastily arrested someone,
but in the cop's haste failed to nab the actual bomber, instead
grabbing an innocent who has no clue about the bomb.

> If the government is successful in getting everyone to carry a
> tracking device (portable mobile phone at present, possibly implanted
> chip in future years) then every human could have a 'value tag' being
> broadcast for cars, etc. to read and quickly sum up the 'value' of the
> bus contents.

In the unlikely case that such a system was successfully
deployed on a wide enough scale to matter, is would be shut
down as soon as it became a tool for assassination when
certain VIPs were "mysteriously" assigned extremely negative
values by "hackers", such that automated cars viewed it as
an overwhelmingly positive thing to go out of their way to collide
with said people at high speed.

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