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A glimpse of the future?

For general discussion related FlowStone

Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby deraudrl » Sat Nov 21, 2020 9:55 pm

tulamide wrote:The biggest hurdle so far is not what people might think. It's ethics. Yep, the really tough questions of what to do in really dangerous situations. Your car becomes unstable. If you stir left you will hit a woman with her baby. The chance they will be hurt is 100%, the chance they'll die is 50%. If you stir right you will hit an old man. The chance he dies is 100%. What to do?

Truth is, we don't make decisions in such situations, where only the blink of an eye is between you and a catastrophe. Instead we act instinctively, and that involves life experience. AI can't act instinctively. It has to make a decision. And that's the ethic problem. Is it ok to kill an old man? He won't live very long anyway, right? Or is it acceptible to hit the woman with her child, as there is a chance they'll survive? And what about the passengers in the car? Should the car decide based on the well-being of them?

The answer to your last question is almost certainly "yes"...because that's how the human driver instinctually behaves in the kind of situations you describe. Is that ethical? Perhaps not, subject to 20-20 hindsight, but the alternative is expecting the car's controller (or by extension, its programmer) to "decide" in ways that the human driver is completely incapable of under those conditions.

But I'm concerned that endlessly debating how the autonomous car will react in extreme edge-of-the-envelope no-win situations completely ignores the benefit (in terms of saved lives and reduced injuries) that the tech will produce in the 99.99999% of everyday driving that it can handle better than the human driver. In other words, the accidents that simply don't occur because the car doesn't get tired/drunk/distracted/enraged/whatever.
I keep a pair of oven mitts next to my computer so I don't get a concussion from slapping my forehead while I'm reading the responses to my questions.
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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby Spogg » Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:18 am

Many great points so far guys.

Another one I’d like to make is about feeling out of control.
I’ve been a passenger in a car many times and often find myself instinctively pressing down on the floor to brake, even though I may trust the driver. This may not be a problem for those who don’t drive of course, but I feel sure many drivers would be reluctant to just sit back, relax and read a book while the car makes its decisions. Those more experienced drivers who will have had accidents or near misses will doubtless feel more anxious. I think this anxiety will reduce the appeal and take-up of autonomous vehicles even though we’ll doubtless be told just how much safer they are.

That brings me on to human risk perception which is a very tough nut to crack. Even though the chances of an AV crossing into the oncoming traffic will be tiny, that tiny probability will have a hugely disproportionate effect on trust.
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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby deraudrl » Sun Nov 22, 2020 5:22 pm

Spogg wrote:That brings me on to human risk perception which is a very tough nut to crack. Even though the chances of an AV crossing into the oncoming traffic will be tiny, that tiny probability will have a hugely disproportionate effect on trust.

As with many aspects of this issue, the question that comes up for me is,
"How is that different from the situation we have now?"

Even if you are a perfect driver, all those other human drivers around you are quite capable of causing the diabolical screwups that keep coming up in these conversations. And they do, on a daily basis.
I keep a pair of oven mitts next to my computer so I don't get a concussion from slapping my forehead while I'm reading the responses to my questions.
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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby Spogg » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:17 am

deraudrl wrote:
Spogg wrote:That brings me on to human risk perception which is a very tough nut to crack. Even though the chances of an AV crossing into the oncoming traffic will be tiny, that tiny probability will have a hugely disproportionate effect on trust.

As with many aspects of this issue, the question that comes up for me is,
"How is that different from the situation we have now?"

Even if you are a perfect driver, all those other human drivers around you are quite capable of causing the diabolical screwups that keep coming up in these conversations. And they do, on a daily basis.


Yes indeed that is the case. But I contend that’s logical so is more Vulcan than Human.

Human feelings, and thus decisions and behaviours, are frequently powered by emotional responses not based on data and statistics. In this way a perceived risk rarely aligns with actual risk.

As an example, in the USA after 9-11 there were more deaths on the road because humans thought flying was more dangerous than driving, which simply isn’t the case. That event completely skewed evaluation of risk and safety. A friend once pointed out that the safest time to travel was just after a terrorist attack (security is higher) but this seems counterintuitive. The human computation is “There be terrorists about” and thus it feels a more dangerous time.

That’s one of the main reasons I think AVs will be hard to sell; not because they are necessarily less safe, but lack of trust and feeling out of control will dominate opinions. Put more simply, I think humans would prefer to be in control and take their chances rather than having all decisions made for them.
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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby tulamide » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:59 am

deraudrl wrote:As with many aspects of this issue, the question that comes up for me is,
"How is that different from the situation we have now?"

There is no need for self-driving cars, if it doesn't change the situation. But the discussion about it is not necessary, because there is already accordance that in order to have self-driving cars, they must have an accident program and that all moral and ethical implifications have to be solved first.

Spogg wrote:That’s one of the main reasons I think AVs will be hard to sell; not because they are necessarily less safe, but lack of trust and feeling out of control will dominate opinions. Put more simply, I think humans would prefer to be in control and take their chances rather than having all decisions made for them.
That's why I think, Google's approach is quite smart. They test their vehicles as minivan cabs and airport shuttles. Situations in which humans are used to give up control.
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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby HughBanton » Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:31 pm

I believe it's common for technical start-ups to have a particular forte in some fine detail of a subject that they want to exploit. They focus on that, solve it, patent it, and then ultimately sell out to one of the Big Fish. Happens a lot and it may well be that this is Malc & co's lateral aim, it wouldn't be at all unusual. All the best to them. But this is mere speculation of course.

So, Back to the Future! 100 years ago (shortly after cars no longer had to have a man with a red flag walking ahead of them), there were many in the UK who saw Airships as the future of long-haul transport. But unfortunately it all came to grief in 1930 with the UK's R101 disaster over northern France, and with Germany's Hindenberg soon after. And then came regular winged air-liners, including, eventually, the jet-engined Comet 4 in the 60s which also fell out of the sky quite regularly, led to the discovery of metal fatigue. (It had square windows; nice view but ... doh!)

Hey, we're dead good at all this technology stuff! But it does serve to illustrate that when there's a goal we have an unstoppable desire to sort all problems, even where they cost lives along the way. It's just guaranteed to be the same with AVs, the advantages are just too strong and we on planet Earth have plenty of previous.

I can imagine, 30-40 years from now, our current motoways (at least) being exclusively 'AV Only' - they'll be populated with 200mph electric truck-convoys and auto-coaches, and us humans and Vulcans won't be allowed anywhere near a steering wheel.

(A steering wheel? What's that Grandad? You did whaaat with it?)

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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby adamszabo » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:42 pm

HughBanton wrote:I can imagine, 30-40 years from now, our current motoways (at least) being exclusively 'AV Only' - they'll be populated with 200mph electric truck-convoys and auto-coaches, and us humans and Vulcans won't be allowed anywhere near a steering wheel.


While I cannot imagine that there will be autonomous cars driving alongside human driven cars on the same road soon, I could imagine special highways created for only robotic trucks or busses/taxis, where no pedestrians or other people are allowed. This way eliminating the human error factor, and make at least those highways/roads almost 100% safe.
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Re: A glimpse of the future?

Postby Spogg » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:19 am

Motorways, maybe even existing ones, only for AVs?

It’s an interesting idea and I must admit one I hadn’t thought of. :oops:

That might be the way to persuade more people to buy them in spite of their instincts and probable high cost.
Of course, once an AV leaves the motorway and before it joins one, it must mix with human drivers again.
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