Thursday, October 25, 2018

Back to the Trolley Problem

That people spend time on the Trolley Problem is evidence to me that people thinking about these things have too much time on their hands. The "who to kill, who to save" question is so far down the list of real world problems these things are going to face. They really aren't ever going to do much better than "try to not hit things" and they might be pretty good at that! But this "trolley problem" stuff is thinking that your computer is going to be weighing more complicated problems than humans do.

And to the extent that is an issue: they're going to kill the pedestrians, save the occupants of the car. Like every other driver.

In a reimagined version of the trolley problem—an ethical thought experiment that asks whether you would opt for the death of one person to save several others—the researchers asked participants on its viral game-like platform decide between two scenarios involving an autonomous vehicle with a sudden brake failure. In one instance, the car will opt to hit pedestrians in front of it to avoid killing those in the vehicle; in the other, the car will swerve into a concrete barrier, killing those in the vehicle but sparing those crossing the street.