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Embed the moral code into the autonomous car

In an interesting lecture of Michael Sandel: What's the right thing to do, he gave an example when the driver has to decide whether he goes forward and kills 5 or he turns and kills 1 person. The majority of that class chooses the second option.

The question is do we want to embed that kind of moral code into the autonomous car. Do you want your own moral code or just go with majority, the default option?

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    Jul 13 2012: Robots have a "moral code"...

    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

    "Asimov once added a "Zeroth Law," so named to continue the pattern where lower-numbered laws supersede the higher-numbered laws, stating that a robot must not harm humanity."
    • Jul 16 2012: I think it is impossible to implement the Zeroth Law: The question of what harms humanity and what doesn't is a deeply philosophical one. By simple example: If a poor man goes to steal vital medicine from a pharmacy (and is willing to go to jail) to save his wife's life, would Robocop be helping humanity by stopping the man? Does this prevention of theft justify letting the man's wife die?

      (I'm not picking a fight, by the way. I just find it an interesting subject to discuss.)
  • Jul 16 2012:  
    I think autonomous vehicles should also be programmed with good manners.

    I realise this might be irrelevant in some countries but, in the UK, the majority of people on the road have good manners and show consideration for other road users, e.g. by letting someone turn right in front of them, when in slow-moving traffic, or if it looks like the other car might otherwise be waiting a long time. (If you drive on the right then this would refer to someone turning left, of course.) You might not have a clue what I'm talking about, but this is how we do it in the UK.

    Something could be included on the car which lets you say: "I'm in a hurry, don't be nice to anyone." But I think that should be a temporary setting which is reset on each journey.
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    Jul 13 2012: I think before we ever put those kind of cars onto public streets, we would want a mechanism that kills the engine and deploys airbags out of the front of the car to dampen impact on pedestrians.