Autonomous Cars Will Need Ethics, Morals and NASCAR Mode | Road Ahead – Ward’s Auto (blog)

It is easy to make autonomous vehicles drive in a more virtuous manner than humans, but this could make them vulnerable as they mix with conventional cars and drivers on the road.

Sourced through from:

So on Thursday night I was driving up a dark but busy road on my way to watch The Lady Killers gig in Belmont, Auckland. If you are in New Zealand, you need to catch the latest show from these  harmonious Kiwi divas, it was a delight. A great mix of Americana/Country and a celebration of music I grew up with including some great Kiwi classics, but I digress. If you do want to know more about these amazing singers, go to

Anyway here we were on a dark street, blocked by a BMW 5 series car wanting to turn left but stubbornly giving way to a line of cars wanting to turn right into the same street. For you Americans, we drive on the left side of the street, so just flip the directions and you’ll get the picture.

The problem was the person in the Beemer had right of way and the other cars would have been braking the law if they went first, and if they crashed, they would have been liable for the damage to the expensive BMW whose driver didn’t know his road rules.

So we all sat there until I gave a gently beep of my horn and the BMW gave his a big honk as he finally turned, probably thinking that I was a reprobate.

Here’s the problem, and we see it a lot with data based systems such as GPS car navigation driving with old maps. 3 years ago the Beemer would have had right of way, but then the law changed. The driver obviously hasn’t caught up with that yet, crazy as that may seem after 3 years. Yet I see people slowing down at similar intersections frequently, ether because they are unsure, or in case the opposing driver still hasn’t cottoned on to the changes.

I could have missed my flight home from Amsterdam last month, because the Saab nav disk didn’t have all the roads in the new district around Schiphol and couldn’t find it’s way out. Fortunately Google Maps came to the rescue, but here’s the thing. (See I get to the point eventually….)

If an autonomous car doesn’t get its data updated regularly (and there are many reasons why that might happen) and it isn’t aware of rule changes, doesn’t get communication from Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) about changes to speed zones, safety warnings etc, all of which are highly likely, then we get into some really interesting risk areas.

Replace the BMW driver with an autonomous car computer that doesn’t know the new road code. It’s not an AI (Artificial Intelligence), it’s just a computer, you know the saying Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO).  Imagine what might happen when I beep my horn? If it has ‘ethics’ or something akin to Asimov’s Law’s of Robotics, it will be rendered motionless, unless a human over-rides it. The computer could hang. Remember when your PC hung, oh was that yesterday? Remember the jokes about what if Microsoft Engineers invented a car? How does  human over-ride a car with no steering wheel etc?

Your comments are always welcomed. When you read the following, remember that now Google and others are building cars.

At a computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: if GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they painted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to re-install the engine.

4. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five percent of the roads.

5. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

6. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

7. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car’s performance to diminish by 50 percent or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Dept.

8. Every time GM introduced a new model, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

9. You’d press the “start” button to shut off the engine.

See on Scoop.itLocation Is Everywhere

About Luigi Cappel

Writer for hire, marketing consultant specialising in Location Based Services. Futurist and Public Speaker Auckland, New Zealand
This entry was posted in Autonomous cars, Driverless Cars, Google, Microsoft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s