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machine ethics

How do people feel about autonomous cars driving around the city streets without a passenger? What if the passenger is drunk or under the influence of drugs? Our poll results find that more people are supportive of a drunk or high passenger riding in a fully autonomous car (one that never requires human input) than having an autonomous car roam the streets without any passengers.

A significant percentage of people today take pleasure in driving and a sense of control it provides; on the other hand, many of us are ready to shift gears to a safer and more efficient passenger experience.

motorcycle_accident

Given a choice between crashing into a motorcyclist wearing a helmet vs. a motorcyclist who isn’t wearing one, which one should an autonomous car be programmed to crash into? What about the choice between crashing into an SUV vs. a compact car?

These are some of the dilemma situations Professor Patrick Lin brought forth in his WIRED article, The Robot Car of Tomorrow May Just be Programmed to Hit You.

Our latest reader poll prods at the intricate challenges and implications of developing collision optimization algorithms for autonomous cars.

Last week we looked at the results of our reader poll on the Tunnel Problem, a moral dilemma that explores an unavoidable life and death scenario involving an autonomous car. Now we’re going more in-depth, to provide you with some insight into the qualitative responses we received.

Two weeks ago, we presented the Tunnel Problem, and asked if death by autonomous car is unavoidable, who should die. We also asked who should be responsible for making the decision. See the results from our reader poll.

There may be times when an accident or a death is unavoidable while an autonomous car is controlling the wheel. What should an autonomous car do when such situation arises? How should the designers of the cars program them to respond? This week, we introduce the Tunnel Problem, which describes one such situation and has been a topic of serious debate for philosophers as well as those watching the technology carefully. Let us know what you think by participating in our poll.

interview by   -   May 16, 2014


In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with Bill Reith, an engineer at Backyard Brains. The company develops RoboRoach, the world’s first commercially available “cyborg”, which was successfully backed on KickStarter.



inVia Robotics: Product-Picking Robots for the Warehouse
October 7, 2019


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