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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We went to a fascinating Stanford alumni presentation/workshop yesterday regarding the implications for society and the moral dilemmas associated with the introduction of autonomous vehicles. After a presentation on the development of driver assist features through fully autonomous vehicles and how they work, various challenges were presented. Such as, should such systems' decisions primarily protect the vehicle occupants, or human lives in general? What if a decision has to be made which protects the driver but kills five pedestrians and the alternative is to avoid the pedestrians and the driver is killed? Also, questions such as whether the developers of such technology and/or society in general are responsible for the welfare of those displaced by the new technology (e.g. truck drivers).

Also, issues came up such as whether drivers should be required by law to have such technology when it's proven to save more lives, or does a driver have a "right" to drive a car themselves (or disable safety features) if that's what they prefer to do, even if doing so might endanger other road-users' lives (hmmm, where has THAT come up before... 馃樃 ).

If anyone's interested in a discussion on this I'll post more about what I learned (not all of it new - I went to a similar workshop at Stanford a few years ago but the technology is proceeding more rapidly than anyone anticipated and will be commonplace in a few years, rather than a few decades).
 

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There are times in an emergency situation where my experience in avoiding a situation (or lessening the potential for extreme injuries) requires me to disable ABS and VDC to avoid being in the middle of a crash. Unfortuately in the CT, I can't disable ABS. One of the scenarios for wanting that ability is under slippery conditions to avoid being in a multi-vehicle pile-up with a tanker or HazMat laden semi applying icing to the cake, with me in the middle. As far as I know the autonomous vehicles haven't reached that level of sophistication. If it's raining, I leave VDC on, and without ice tires, glare ice too. Otherwise snow, wind or dry I turn VDC off. The car tells me what's going on when I'm listening, so I prefer to be engaged in the act of driving rather than depend on tech alone to drive me. Complacency kills...

artosa
 

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Lots of food for thought there, AstroKats. I can see the various automakers going in different directions on those challenging decisions. Heck, the EV auto makers can't even agree on something as simple a compatible charging plug. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There are times in an emergency situation where my experience in avoiding a situation (or lessening the potential for extreme injuries) requires me to disable ABS and VDC to avoid being in the middle of a crash. Unfortuately in the CT, I can't disable ABS. One of the scenarios for wanting that ability is under slippery conditions to avoid being in a multi-vehicle pile-up with a tanker or HazMat laden semi applying icing to the cake, with me in the middle. As far as I know the autonomous vehicles haven't reached that level of sophistication. If it's raining, I leave VDC on, and without ice tires, glare ice too. Otherwise snow, wind or dry I turn VDC off. The car tells me what's going on when I'm listening, so I prefer to be engaged in the act of driving rather than depend on tech alone to drive me. Complacency kills...

artosa
Regarding complacency, one interesting study they've done is looking at the results at different levels of automation. I forget exactly the various levels but in between driver assistance (like Eyesight) and fully autonomous there's an level where the car can mostly drive itself but relies on a human driver to intervene occasionally. Imagine Tesla's Autopilot in a few years. Drivers were monitored and they became complacent, checked their phones, put on make-up, dozed, etc. So weren't paying enough attention to be able to intervene when the car's AI couldn't handle a situation. This has already happened a few times with Teslas, which are not considered autonomous at the moment.

At some point, though, self driving cars will become better drivers, on average, than humans. Some will argue it's already at that point. Human drivers already kill hundreds of thousands of other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists. What if autonomous cars were only killing half as many? Time to ban human drivers?
 

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Ahh, the Trolley Problem arrives at the XV Forum!

It's fascinating stuff to think about, and it's what keeps TED Talks and NPR alive ... but I'm realistic enough to know that it's also pretty pointless to ponder it too much, because we humans are way too short-sighted to act proactively on anything like that. (Or to make any other difficult decisions for the long-term benefit of society or the planet.) We'll just grab whatever ring is shiniest and closest at the moment, and then postpone dealing with the resulting mess as long as its possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yep! Multiple scenarios of the trolley problem were discussed... 馃樃

Here's an interesting study that was mentioned - if a group is asked whether their car should prioritize protecting them or other road users, they'll say it should prioritize protecting them. If the same people are later asked whether automakers should build cars that priortize protecting all road users or just the driver of the car, the same people will answer all road users. So, ones opinion depends on whether you're in the autonomous car or outside it.
 

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Yeah, it's not really a perfect example of the Trolley Problem, because it's discussing decisions that are made from a distance. If you're a Tesla engineer analyzing the problem on a computer screen in a cubicle, you'll have a completely different thought process going on compared to the guy who's sitting in the speeding Tesla that's about to squish an innocent bystander.

That's one of the underlying reasons why it's easy for society to rationalize away making difficult decisions ...
 

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Perhaps some of the pilots here can offer their perspective on worst case scenario in which you would have to decide to save others at the expense of your own life and/or loved ones to save others. "The needs of the many outweigh those of the few; or the one" (Thank you, Spock). Are you willing to make that choice when you engage in an activity that has the potential of hurting others? If not, wouldn't it be better to abstain from that activity? One of my primary considerations in my activities is that no one gets hurt (or inconvenienced, if possible).

artosa
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Coincidentally, this just popped up on the LA Times site:


鈥淭here are many places where self-driving cars are going to be safer. I have a driver-assisted Subaru and I love it,鈥 said Madeleine Clare Elish, who studies the confluence of humans and automated systems at the research group Data & Society. 鈥淏ut that doesn鈥檛 mean it cancels out all the complications, including when the technologies fail.鈥
 

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On the EV forum that I frequent, there are sometimes Telsa fanbois that talk about this. They go as far to say that lives lost (crashes caused by Tesla Autopilot) by early releases of the software to drivers are worth the lives saved down the road. I have a bit of a hard time swallowing that. Despite what some proponents say, I think we are still a long ways off from full self driving. Projections made just a few years ago are being pushed out further and further these days. That final step (no driver input or monitoring) is a lot more difficult than they first thought.

However, I think we are making good progress with some of the driver assist programs that are available now (like FCA and blindspot alerts). I think the new Subaru driver alert system (detects falling asleep or distraction) is a good thing too. And no doubt we will see more and more life saving features.

Re pilots, I can't think of an accident where they had to choose between killing people on the ground or save themselves. More common, they would try maneuver a plane away from people on the ground, knowing they are going to die anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Re pilots, I can't think of an accident where they had to choose between killing people on the ground or save themselves. More common, they would try maneuver a plane away from people on the ground, knowing they are going to die anyways.
That happened recently with a Red Arrows pilot at an airshow in the UK. From what I read at the time, he could have saved himself by ejecting but chose to remain in the jet to direct it away from the crowds.
 

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That happened recently with a Red Arrows pilot at an airshow in the UK. From what I read at the time, he could have saved himself by ejecting but chose to remain in the jet to direct it away from the crowds.
Yeah, never thought about the jet fighters that can eject. Usually they can do that pretty well up to the last second before hitting the ground, so even that would be unusual.
 

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Don't be so quick to say that driverless cars are so dangerous.Nearly all crashes involving autonomous cars were the fault of the human driving the other car or a pedestrian walking out in front of it.For instance,the Tesla on autopilot hit a semi and killed the Teslas driver.That truck made a left turn in front of the Tesla which had the right of way.Who was at fault?The truck driver for failure to yield the right of way to the Tesla.In another case,a pedestrian,in the middle of the night,on an unlit highway,comes out of the shadows in front of a Tesla on autopilot and is killed.Everyone blamed the Teslas autopilot for not stopping in time.However,they refuse to accept that a vehicle,be it driven by a human or a computer needs a minimum distance to stop at a given speed.A vehicle traveling at X=MPH will need Y=distance to stop.If the distance between the vehicle and the obstacle is <Y then a collision will occur and nothing short of the hand of god himself can prevent it.

As for your trolley problem.The problem isn't about what would you do vs what the computer would do.Just as any human,including all of you,the computer will slam on the brakes to bring the car to a stop ASAP to minimize damage.That's IF there is enough time/distance to do so and there usually isn't.As someone who has been the passenger in multiple crashes and the driver in many near misses I can say that when a collision is inevitable,there's no time to decide which way to go.It will be done and over before you know what happened.In those cases,no computer or human could have possibly recognized the situation and reacted in time to do anything to change the outcome.

The bottom line is that there's too many stupid people out there that don't obey the rules of the road and shouldn't be driving at all,as well as the fact that they obviously don't teach kids to stay out of the road and look out for cars before crossing the road anymore.Drivers,be they human or computer,have no control over what other people around them do.Get rid of the wreckless/careless drivers by taking away their licence or putting them in self driving cars and the pedestrians that don't pay attention to where they're going because their eyes are glued to their phone and don't look before crossing the road and there will be no trolley problem because there will be no stupid people in the way to avoid.Almost every time I am out on the roads,I see some idiot doing something really stupid that nearly caused a crash.Something that a computer just simply wouldn't do.A computer is never in a hurry,it doesn't get road rage,it's not prone to fatigue,it doesn't drink or do drugs and it knows and obeys the rules of the road.Given the choice,I'd rather share the road with a dumb computer driven car that can't decide which stupid human to hit because they got in it's way than one controlled by stupid humans that don't pay attention to what's going on around them.

On a final note.I love driving and the sense of freedom it provides.However,I know that one day I will not be able to drive a vehicle safely.When that day comes,I can rest assured that I will have the option of a self driving car to allow me to get out of the house and go where I want to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Don't be so quick to say that driverless cars are so dangerous.Nearly all crashes involving autonomous cars were the fault of the human driving the other car or a pedestrian walking out in front of it.For instance,the Tesla on autopilot hit a semi and killed the Teslas driver.That truck made a left turn in front of the Tesla which had the right of way.Who was at fault?The truck driver for failure to yield the right of way to the Tesla.In another case,a pedestrian,in the middle of the night,on an unlit highway,comes out of the shadows in front of a Tesla on autopilot and is killed.Everyone blamed the Teslas autopilot for not stopping in time.However,they refuse to accept that a vehicle,be it driven by a human or a computer needs a minimum distance to stop at a given speed.A vehicle traveling at X=MPH will need Y=distance to stop.If the distance between the vehicle and the obstacle is <Y then a collision will occur and nothing short of the hand of god himself can prevent it.

As for your trolley problem.The problem isn't about what would you do vs what the computer would do.Just as any human,including all of you,the computer will slam on the brakes to bring the car to a stop ASAP to minimize damage.That's IF there is enough time/distance to do so and there usually isn't.As someone who has been the passenger in multiple crashes and the driver in many near misses I can say that when a collision is inevitable,there's no time to decide which way to go.It will be done and over before you know what happened.In those cases,no computer or human could have possibly recognized the situation and reacted in time to do anything to change the outcome.

The bottom line is that there's too many stupid people out there that don't obey the rules of the road and shouldn't be driving at all,as well as the fact that they obviously don't teach kids to stay out of the road and look out for cars before crossing the road anymore.Drivers,be they human or computer,have no control over what other people around them do.Get rid of the wreckless/careless drivers by taking away their licence or putting them in self driving cars and the pedestrians that don't pay attention to where they're going because their eyes are glued to their phone and don't look before crossing the road and there will be no trolley problem because there will be no stupid people in the way to avoid.Almost every time I am out on the roads,I see some idiot doing something really stupid that nearly caused a crash.Something that a computer just simply wouldn't do.A computer is never in a hurry,it doesn't get road rage,it's not prone to fatigue,it doesn't drink or do drugs and it knows and obeys the rules of the road.Given the choice,I'd rather share the road with a dumb computer driven car that can't decide which stupid human to hit because they got in it's way than one controlled by stupid humans that don't pay attention to what's going on around them.

On a final note.I love driving and the sense of freedom it provides.However,I know that one day I will not be able to drive a vehicle safely.When that day comes,I can rest assured that I will have the option of a self driving car to allow me to get out of the house and go where I want to go.
Thanks Mario!

Yes, I haven't even scratched the surface of the material presented and discussed at the workshop. In one of the autonomous test incidents, the human had taken over control and the data later showed that the car would have avoided it if the human had not taken over. In other cases (the fatality) the human was not paying attention and should have taken over. Both human error.

My mom (who drove fast cars when I was a kid and referred to herself as James Bond's Mother) stopped driving voluntarily in her 80s, and so did OAK's dad recently, also in his 80s. I will too (probably in favor of a self-driving car).
 

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80's?, come on guys, take care of yourselves... At our airport, there are quite a few pilots well into their 80s still going strong. And as you know, AK, takes a lot more to fly a plane than drive a car. One of them is actually a squad leader of an aerobatic team that regularly performs in airshows, and special events.
He is 84 years old right now, and no signs of slowing down. I knew another similar pilot that just recently quit flying, but not because of his cognitive or motor skills. He unfortunately got a detached retina, which then did him in. What was amazing about him, right to the end, is how we would go out on the most windy days, and practice crosswind landings. And this is on a small Piper PA12 tail dragger. I wouldn't even think of going out flying in some of those conditions in a nose gear plane!

So it is not just about age,... all about your health. I still have quite a few years to go before I see 80, but have no intention of stopping flying (or driving) as long as my health is good. Of course, pilots need a medical, so your health is indeed verified before your license is valid.

I mountain bike, ski, hike, and keep very active. If I can't get out for some reason, I get on my stationary bike and treadmill at home. I don't like to go more than 2 days without vigorous exercise. That's the secret. Of course you have to eat right, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
80's?, come on guys, take care of yourselves... At our airport, there are quite a few pilots well into their 80s still going strong. And as you know, AK, takes a lot more to fly a plane than drive a car. One of them is actually a squad leader of an aerobatic team that regularly performs in airshows, and special events.
He is 84 years old right now, and no signs of slowing down. I knew another similar pilot that just recently quit flying, but not because of his cognitive or motor skills. He unfortunately got a detached retina, which then did him in. What was amazing about him, right to the end, is how we would go out on the most windy days, and practice crosswind landings. And this is on a small Piper PA12 tail dragger. I wouldn't even think of going out flying in some of those conditions in a nose gear plane!

So it is not just about age,... all about your health. I still have quite a few years to go before I see 80, but have no intention of stopping flying (or driving) as long as my health is good. Of course, pilots need a medical, so your health is indeed verified before your license is valid.

I mountain bike, ski, hike, and keep very active. If I can't get out for some reason, I get on my stationary bike and treadmill at home. I don't like to go more than 2 days without vigorous exercise. That's the secret. Of course you have to eat right, too.
I don't want to get into the murky waters of ageism here...

We live in Santa Monica where an elderly driver killed a lot people by plowing through the weekly Farmers' Market. Should he have been driving? Should his family have prevented it by taking his keys?

I agree, it's not about the date you were born, it's about ability and capacity. That's difficult to evaluate, whether the driver is 16 or 96.

So, to continue this thread in the way I intended, how would you expect self-driving cars to handle this?
 

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I don't want to get into the murky waters of ageism here...

We live in Santa Monica where an elderly driver killed a lot people by plowing through the weekly Farmers' Market. Should he have been driving? Should his family have prevented it by taking his keys?

I agree, it's not about the date you were born, it's about ability and capacity. That's difficult to evaluate, whether the driver is 16 or 96.

So, to continue this thread in the way I intended, how would you expect self-driving cars to handle this?
Actually, in BC here, they recently implemented regular cognitive testing for older drivers, at 80. I know it took a lot of drivers off the road. Apparently it is pretty tough,... have to remember a bunch of words and numbers. I know a lot of older folks are very anxious about this. I bet a lot of younger ones wouldn't pass this test either...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Actually, in BC here, they recently implemented regular cognitive testing for older drivers, at 80. I know it took a lot of drivers off the road. Apparently it is pretty tough,... have to remember a bunch of words and numbers. I know a lot of older folks are very anxious about this. I bet a lot of younger ones wouldn't pass this test either...
Perhaps there should be a VR test, like the simulator tests for passenger aircraft pilots...
 

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Perhaps there should be a VR test, like the simulator tests for passenger aircraft pilots...
Perhaps, and maybe that is where we are heading,... for everyone. As pilots, we often talk about how inadequate the driving tests are, when you see the crazy drivers on the road. And most of the worst are not old either. I think the insurance companies do a pretty good job, too, of recognizing risks, which is why new drivers, and those with a bad driving records pay more. But we can do better, I'm sure. Although it would take some major, major political will to make really meaningful changes.
 
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