Self-Driving Cars? Safety vs Freedom

By | January 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

Looking forward to self-driving cars?  Consider the problems we already have with autonomous functions:

• Automatic emergency braking: A car on a two-lane rural road comes up a slow-moving truck. To pass safely, the driver falls back, then accelerates before moving into the other lane, so as to spend the least time on the wrong side of the road. But the system thinks he will rear-end the truck and slams on the brakes. Luckily there was no vehicle behind, or there would have been a serious accident. Someday the chip will be programmed to understand the safe way to pass.

• Lane-keeping assistance: Again a car is on a two-lane road. Coming in the opposite direction is a wide truck. The driver edges onto the shoulder to give enough room to the truck. But the system thinks he is wandering from his lane, and steers the car back to the left. Hopefully the driver can avoid hitting the truck. Someday the chip will be programmed to understand avoiding a head-on collision.

A self-driving car will avoid many driver-caused accidents, but will cause its own accidents. There are two questions: 1) Which of the two types of accidents will be more frequent? 2) Even if driver-caused accidents will be more frequent, is controlling your own destiny still worthwhile? This brings us to the key question: Is freedom more valuable than safety?


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