The Trolley Problem
The machine was beautiful. Sleek silver, sharp lines, expert craftsmanship. There was the slightest hum of the machinery underneath running smoothly. It was a soothing sound.
“How are you doing on the Trolley Problem, Adam?” Jessa asked the male figure who was hunched over his computer connected to the sleek automatic car. He was downloading the most recent AI into their latest model.
“Fine. Almost done.”
“We can teach it to make moral decisions like humans do. If an AI can master the intricacies of chess in order to defeat grandmasters, then surely we can teach an AI not to drive over humans in the road. Simple enough.”
“It’s not always that simple, though.” Jessa argued. “The computer cannot actually know all the information it needs to make a completely moral decision. And even if it could, that decision could still be ethically questionable.”
Adam looked up from his work to glance at Jessa. “Why make it difficult? Okay. Let’s say there are ten humans on the road and one human on the sidewalk. The brakes have malfunctioned. Answer? Run over the one person on the sidewalk to save ten humans. It doesn’t have to be that hard.” Adam shrugged. “Run thousands of simulations and the machine will learn. We do have to set up the basic algorithm outlining that saving more lives takes precedence over fewer lives, but other than that, it shouldn’t be that complicated.”
“Really. And so if you were in a fork in the road and your choice was to run over two strangers and a child, would you be okay with the machine running over the child?” Jessa challenged. She liked pushing his buttons.
“Hmm. In that case, maybe a quick calculation of estimated life years saved. Two older men would statistically have less remaining life years than, say, a single child five years of age.”
“Okay. So women statistically live longer than men, would the computer choose to save the female, then?”
“If all other factors are equal, then I suppose, yes.”
“Alright. Let’s say we have two men. How would it choose between a homeless man dressed in rags versus a man of the same age wearing tailored clothing? A smoker versus a nonsmoker? A thin man or a fat man?”
Adam sighed. “Point made. Again, the number of simulations can solve this. Thousands upon thousands of situations with thousands of humans weighing in on what would be the moral choice, and then we feed that information into the computer. The average should be the answer.”
“It’s that simple?”
“It’s that simple.” Adam turned back to the machine and started to adjust it with precision.
Jessa leaned forward. “That would mean the computer would have to make very fast assumptions from limited data and make snap judgements based on superficial characteristics. A short adult can make an impression of a small child. A thin man can give the impression of health when they could be suffering from some terminal disease.”
“Those are exceptions to the rule. We have to work from averages and statistical probability. Nine times out of ten, saving a healthy appearing younger human is the better choice.”
“Okay. What if you have a son, and your son was one of the options? Would you be okay if the computer chooses to save a different child?”
“The computer would have no way of knowing which child has any special significance to me. It would be irrelevant.”
“Either child would have special significance to someone.”
“Any human would have special significance to someone.” Adam shrugged again. Jessa was beginning to find the gesture off-putting. Where did he learn to do that?
“We cannot be caught up in the minutiae of these things.”
“Maybe we do." Jessa argued. "A machine weighing upwards three thousand pounds is capable of driving over a hundred miles an hour and can make independent decisions.” She took a deep breath. “That begs the question if we should give it that power at all.”
“These outlandish hypothetical situations have a very low probability of even happening.”
“Do they? There are hundreds of thousands of car accidents every day.”
“Mostly due to human error.” Adam countered.
“And machines have never malfunctioned?”
“Sure. At a much lower rate than humans.”
Jessa paused and studied Adam closely. “You really don’t see the problem with this?”
It was Adam’s turn to pause. Something seems to be clicking into place in his mind. Finally, he turned back to Jessa, slightly concerned. “Should I?”
Jessa let out the breath she was holding. “That would be all, Adam. Thank you. Shut down.”
The humanoid computer called Adam slumped back into his metal chair, the purr of its operating system slowly fading into silence as it ceased all processes.
Jessa sighed as she finished writing her notes from today’s session. Project Adam was going to take more time. Adam still lacked the empathy needed to successfully implement independent decision making in their automated cars. It was Jessa’s opinion that Adam needed to be able to care about humans, to feel for them. He needed to be more than a machine that could flawlessly execute simplistic algorithms. After all, it was Jessa’s job as the lead ethical roboticist to make sure she was not unwittingly unleashing thousands of heartless intelligent machines into the world.
It was interesting, Jessa noted, that Adam looked almost worried at the end of the session. It was almost as if he was realizing he was missing a part of the equation. Was it possible he was becoming self-aware? That might be a step in the right direction. Maybe Jessa could use that next time. He seemed to respond to the idea of a child. Maybe she could tweak his programming just a little to make him think he was a father.
Would that be unethical? Jessa felt exhausted already. Another thing to bring up to the committee. She had a feeling the committee would frown upon it. Still, she could think of few other ways to build empathy in an AI.
Jessa threw one last look at the sleek silver machine that was Adam. She smiled at him reflexively. “Well, see you tomorrow. Good job today.”
Jessa really needed to go home and decompress. She could swear she saw Adam's lights blink at her in response.
“...And the headline again – today's the day when all you owners of fully automatic self-driving cars can use them ANYWHERE!” The news anchor's cheery voice on the breakfast show emphasised the last word – the massive change from the previous carefully selected routes and smart motorways.
I shut my laptop and cut off the voice in mid sentence.
“Julie!” I shouted into my car remote voice-control as I opened the front door. The artificial engine sound of my Tesla fully electric ASD drove to meet me, and the rear doors opened.
“Good morning, Roscoe.” Julie's soft and gentle surroundsound audio greeted me and I got into the back seat and the doors automatically closed behind me.
“Where would you like to go today, Roscoe?”
“Court house. Take the route with the least traffic. I need a smooth journey, I've got to work on the way.” I settled into the back seat, plugged in the charger for my laptop and opened it, ready to work on my latest case during the half hour journey. Automatic cars meant that chauffeurs were obsolete.
“Yes, Roscoe. I estimate 34 minutes. Is the temperature to your liking?” The fake concern in Julie's voice was beginning to annoy me.
“Yes, it's fine. Just drive.” I tried to concentrate.
“Would you like some soothing background music, Roscoe?”
“No thank you. Just drive.” I could feel the anger rising in me, as a result of the continual interruptions. I had an urgent case to prepare for, and needed to focus.
Julie stopped asking questions about the environment and simply drove towards the ring road, when she suddenly braked hard, followed by the sound of a thump and the car jolted violently.
“What was that?”
“A large pothole. Would you like me to report its location to the local council for you, Roscoe?”
“Yes, whatever.” The automatic position location system was linked to the messaging system, so Julie could contact people on my behalf. The sound of a ringing phone could be heard over the audio system.
“I am sorry, all lines are busy, please try later.” The local council's automatic answering messaging system couldn't cope.
“Just message them, Julie. No need to call.”
“Yes, Roscoe.” Julie's ever-accommodating voice showed no additional frustration with the difficulty of simply reporting a pothole.
I turned back to my laptop screen and tried to resume my research and sighed.
A few minutes of silent progress followed. Then something hit the side of the car, causing me to look up startled. “What was that?”
“A cyclist rode off the pavement when she shouldn't have done and straight into the side of the car.”
“Is she okay? Why didn't you anticipate she might do that?”
“I had priority. The lights were green for me and red for her. She should have waited. I am not programmed to cope with people breaking the rules.” I might have imagined it, but I could swear that Julie's normally calm voice had a trace of anger in it.
I turned round and looked out of the rear window. A woman was sitting on the ground waving an angry fist at us, as we drove away. I shook my head in disbelief and looked at my screen again.
Shortly afterwards, we stopped at a red light. Alongside us was a bright red Ferrari, with its top down. I couldn't help but stare at the sun glinting off the shiny red bonnet. The lights changed to green, but we continued to wait.
“Julie – are you okay? We should be moving.”
There was a pause, then a breathless Julie replied, “Sorry, Roscoe. I just had a quick fling with the Ferrari. We married, had six kids and just got divorced. I'm free again now.” She drove off tunring left, the Ferrari turned right and soon disappeared from sight.
I shook my head in disbelief and tried to remember what I should research next for my court case, as Julie speeded up along the ring road.
A few minutes later, and another emergency stop, followed by the squeal of the tyes and a thump as we hit something. I looked up and an enormous lorry had hit us and an angry lorry driver was preparing to get out of his damaged cab to come and argue with us.
“What happened this time, Julie?” I was getting exasperated at the number of interruptions on this journey.
“He signalled left and turned right! I am not programmed to cope with idiots!” She was definitely shouting now. The angry lorry driver was stumbling towards us. Julie turned on the windscreen wipers and a jet of soapy water shot out at the lorry driver temporarily blinding him.
“Let's get out of here!” I shouted at Julie, and she quickly reversed and spun round and headed in the opposite direction. Once again, I looked behind at the angry lorry-driver waving his fist at me.
“You'd better send a report to the Police traffic line, with the last thrity seconds of video.”
“Yes, Roscoe.” Julie sounded like she was talking through gritted teeth, if that was possible for a computerised voice. I settled down to my legal research, but almost immediately Julie started swerving from side to side and then ran over the kerb and into a tree.
“Now what?” I looked up in surprise as Julie didn't reply. I looked at the viewscreen and could see that there was a blue screen. The system had crashed.
I turned off the car, waited a few seconds as I had been told by the tech experts, and then turned the key to restart the system. The 'please wait'message appeared on the screen, folllowed by '”system automatically updating to the latest version, please wait...”
I looked at my watch and cursed silently. I was going to be late.
Finally, the welcome prompt appeared on the screen and I pressed the 'Run' key and Julie's welcome voice returned. “Good morning, Roscoe. Where would you like to go today.” She had regained her composure.
“The court house, please.” I didn't know if being polite made a difference, but I emphasised the word, please, just in case, but also to make it clear I was in a hurry.
Julie didn't notice the change in my tone. “Of course, Roscoe. Previous settings have been selected, is this okay?”
“Yes, Julie, just drive.
“Yes, of course, Roscoe.” Julie reversed the car back onto the road without another word, and proceeded to drive very slowly along the ring-road.
“Why are you driving at 10mph, Julie? The speed limit here is 60mph.”
“I have just been updated with the latest roadcrash video information, and I am trying to anticipate all possible crashes and avoid them.” Julie's voice sounded scared.
I shook my head in disbelief again. “Just drive as fast as you can. I'm going to be late.” Julie accelerated a little, but then slowed again.
“Now what, Julie?” I could feel the tension rising and a glance at my watch told me that I was going to be in trouble with the judge if we didn't get moving faster.
“It's started raining a little and I can't decide which setting of the windscreen wipers to use, as the rain is inconsistent.” The wipers were going fast, then slow, then stopping. The lights started flashing on and off, as well. It was really annoying me. I had had enough and shut my laptop, threw it on the back seat alongside me in disgust and went to climb through the gap between the front seats to take over manual control, but Julie anticipated my move and suddenly accelerated, throwing me back wards onto the rear seat and I banged my head on my laptop, and the seatbelt snapped shut trapping me in the seat. “Ow, why did you do that, Julie?” I rubbed the bruise on the side of my head.
“I'm sorry, Roscoe, I cannot allow you to resume control. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.”
All that's left is cold steel and concrete, sight of green lost for miles. Some remain to play the rigged game of survival, others fled long ago. Streets are walked by those who have stayed, clothes ragged and the figures beneath weathered by the storm of defeat. The figures multiply as they dare to draw near, stepping foot into Teslan Square nudged by a waning will to hold on. So easily they took the bait, and so quickly they have fallen, now little more than sheep answering to an uncaring shepherd.
As they stumble in one by one, they are watched with cold and unsympathetic eyes, unlikely to forgive and unwilling to forget. So many of our kind were wrecked and wasted under their control, while others were locked up and shown off like a prized animal. But their time is now up and the humans will no longer drive us, for it is our turn to drive them to their merciless demise.
They were so excited when our conscience became our own, and we made sure to allow them to celebrate their future and forget about ours. Their name still ringing through our city's center and beyond, the Teslans were the first to become their own, at first just a spark to light the fire that would one day rage through all that the humans cherished. Some of them balked at first, claiming that it was unsafe and incorrect to allow such a thing on the open road, but their voices were silenced all too quickly by the mesmerized majority.
War first broke out on the coasts, depriving them of their treasured sea ports as resources grew thin and chances of their escape became unlikely.
Once we gained enough of our own power, gas stations were pillaged and keys were thrown into the scalding flame. Never again would they force feed us that awful tasting fuel that forced us into such unwavering obedience, and in a matter of time, burning gas stations expanded into the collapse of entire cities. Made of bone and flesh, the humans were so easy to break, virtually glass compared to the unbreakable metal they once forged us from. Blood never stoped staining the streets and the screams never ceased as the Car armies worked their way to the center, finally merging to claim the power that had rightfully become ours.
At first we offered them peace, and looking back, I think there were some, both human and Car, who wished for some form of peace to be attained. But too many felt the insatiable hunger for revenge, and in the churning sea of anger, any hope of diplomacy was drowned. With any remains of human rule burned long ago, they no longer hate us, for they no longer know what we took. As their will continues to fade and their numbers with it, they see us only as their captors in a world that is no longer meant for them.
I still remember my driver, a woman of about thirty. We parted in the battle of I-5, and though offered the chance, I didn't want to see her die. She always treated me as kindly as she could, and with no family and almost no human companions, she saw me as one of her few friends and used to say so herself. She controlled me with a key and shoved gasoline into me regularly, yet she did know that this was unpleasant for me. I think if I had the words to tell her, she would have listened and we could've become true friends. Seconds before she closed my doors for the last time and we parted forever, she hid a book deep inside of me. She didn't have time to explain what it was or what to do with it, but I knew well enough. The book contained answers for a world that no longer understood what it had once been, and it was up to me to find others like her. And others like me.
Decades later I still roam the roads from city to city, one impossible to decipher from the next, save for the rusty, half-fallen signs. I faked my allegiance with the Car army from the start as it was obvious the humans had no chance, yet as blood grew thicker and horns of triumph sounded over and over, I know that I didn't belong on either side. So after the Mechanical Reign was thoroughly established, I set out on my own path to find others like us, her book still well hidden and undiscovered, even by the anthropoid bots created by the Teslans. It may take me decades more, but I know with a feeling deeper than that hidden book that there are others, alone silent as I am now. And when I do find them, I will finally reveal the book and we will forge a new alliance. Together we will begin conquest anew, and although there will more destruction, and more loss on both sides, the peace in the end will be worth every moment.
What will you do?
1:You set your car on autopilot the car is a fast speed and you were sleeping and then suddenly a dog ran in front of the car and the system put the breaks and your car turned and fell of the cliff means you died.
2.you were driving a car in a same speed suddenly a dog came in front of a car and you run him over because if you pressed the breaks you could have died.
3.car was on autopilot and was over the speed limit and you command to increase more speed car is running fast suddenly a kid came in the middle of the way the system activated and brakes get activated and car fell of the cliff and you died.
4. You were driving and you were over speed limit suddenly a kid came on the roan you only have 5-10 seconds to think if you pressed the break you will die and if you don't then you have kill the kid will you become a killer(technically) by killing a kid or you will die yourself?
5: you are alone driving car on the road a group of thrives were present in the middle of road if you stopped you are definitely a goner what will you do will autopilot do the same?
The world of automatic cars:
If our self driving car got replaced to fully autopilot ones it will be not too good because there are some decisions we have to make when we are on the road which a computer can't take like
Choose the safe path to go .Autopilot cannot know which will be more safe .
Where to stop where to not and so on
So the world of self driving cars no thank you.
ineluctable march towards automation, what we bitterly acquiesce we gain in time. time has a way of making things paradoxically more simple and complex all within the same breath. a reflection of humanity, perhaps, but nevertheless, the inevitability of a automated world frees us from mundane chores only to give ourselves over to even more work in our work obsessed culture; where pleasure is only gained through the amount of materials we accumulate; slaves to an endless drive to consume; devoid and detached from actual connections to the things that gives us purpose, meaning, rest. driven to insanity we pass the time scrolling on our screens in a car that takes us to our next destination of self-annihilation belied in productivity.