The Dilemma of a Driver less Car
Self driving cars is a cool concept. Every major enterprise is developing its own algorithm. Driver-less cars was science fiction that has come true. Life would be so much easier once a car is embedded with this technology. The software will never break a rule and accidents will be reduced. A tired worker returning from work will just have to sit in his car and the technology will drive him home safely, or is it so?
The advantages of a driver less car is many, but it comes with a curse too. With a driver less car on the road your life doesn’t anymore follows a natural sequence of events. Probably your chances of survival on a road accident is already pre written some days or months ago by a software engineer at a laboratory thousand of miles away from the place of incident.
Let me paint a picture. There is a driverless car running at a high speed on a highway. There comes a time the car is stuck behind a big carrier truck and the car is unable to overtake because its left and right flanks are already occupied by other commuters. I have taken a biker and a SUV.
Now see the above picture and imagine that the Truck is hit by a glitch and the the driver hits the brake hard. Because of this the large containers fall off the truck. Now the driver less car is speeding towards the falling debris . The high speeding car has three options to choose from.
- Hit the brakes hard and let the commuters behind it get hit or probably goes straight and hit the cargo on the road risking the owner’s life, thereby saving other lives
- Turn left towards the SUV and crash into the vehicle because there is a chance that no one will be harmed, except some damage to the vehicles
- Or turn right towards the biker as the biker will be more agile and will navigate , escaping a crash.
So who will decide where the car will go?
The owner of the car must have paid a fortune to get the driver less car so that he can be safe on road. Was the investment worth it, if the car chooses to brake and hit the debris? Why would I like to buy a car that would kill me. Isn’t that fair enough. So we rule out 1st option. Turning left means the car will hit the SUV. It will damage both vehicles. So, the Guy driving a SUV is liable to be hit by a driver less car, because he is driving a SUV ! What if, instead a SUV , he was driving a small a small car?
On the right is the biker. Turning right has the highest probability of a casualty. But bikers being more agile it will be able to anticipate the movement and escape the crash. Let us change the situation. There is a biker with a helmet on the left and another without one to the car’s right. So will the software decide that the biker with the helmet has to be hit because that way the possibility of a casualty is less as compared to the other side. This means that not wearing a helmet might actually save you! There can be many different possibilities. But the fundamental flaw that remains here is that you future has been pre written and it is ethically not acceptable. Everything boils down to the “code” . If such situation has occurred , that means the fate of a person is pre-decided in a software coding laboratory. While I drive a car on the road my fate will be decided on the coder’s pecking order of possible outcomes. Now the outcomes don’t occur on natural random behaviour but based on a pre coded software.Would I like to venture out on the road with such vehicles around me?
In case the the car was driven by an able human being , and at the heat of the moment the decision that he might have taken is considered purely natural based on his human instincts and no amount of data or reasoning can object the decision he took. The softwares are still under development and the government has to intervene into the writing of these codes. The codes ought to have a universal standard and need to follow proper guidelines. The software giants cant be allowed to write the codes as per their own whims or choice of their customers.
Once the accident has occurred, there still remains another glitch that has to be clarified. who takes the responsibility of a casualty? The owner of the car, the code , the code writer or the company who sold the car. These are some fundamental issues that are going to pop us as the dust settles.
All the theories are based on imaginary situations. In no way we mean to put a stop on the development of self driving cars. This is just to educate the people that everything comes with a consequence and we ll have to be aware of it before it hits us
Leave your thought and comments below.