To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/15/to-hell-with-the-trolley-probl.html


#2

How about groups of cars forming a file sharing network?


#3

Imaginative list. I doubt they will all come to pass, but it’s an exercise in brainstorming. Nobody even knows if fully autonomous cars will become a real thing, and nobody knows which problems will end up setting their limits. For example, somebody pointed out here that it’s not clear how they will interact with motorcycles. Some of the biggest problems are not even on the list yet.


#4

i find trolley problems annoying. life is never black and white.


#5

How about a coordinated group of cars, occupying all lanes of a highway and driving 10 MPH under the speed limit? Signs on the back: “To pass, Like us on Facebook/send Bitcoin to this address/scan this QR code and watch the ad/whatever.”


#6

“Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.”

i’m still waiting for arthur c. clarke’s sidewalks:

An engineer of the ancient world would have gone slowly mad trying to understand how a solid roadway could be fixed at both ends while its centre travelled at a hundred miles an hour.


#7

If they become fully autonomous, they might well decide not to carry humans around any more. Wasn’t there a Culture GSV that went rampant, possibly mentioned in Excession?


#8

There was the Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints in Surface Detail, who only took on passengers that amused it, and both Sleeper Service and Gray Matter (aka Meatfucker) in Excession, both of whom had limited numbers of biological sentients on-board for various reasons.

I think, though, that we’re fairly far away from having Minds around, despite what the techno-rapturists would like to believe.


#9

Pirates of the high roads!


#10

(avoiding) interacting with motorcycles is critical almost everywhere outside North America


#11

I think it was a GCU, not sure.


#12

An autonomous vehicle encountering the Trolley Problem should most emphatically do its best to kill the psychopath who set up the situation and put it on a no-return trajectory towards it.


#13

It is an offence in the UK, and I would guess in many places elsewhere. “Failure to make satisfactory progress”.

The core point people are failing to notice is that “autonomous cars” are not the future. The benefits really start to accrue when you have networked cars which report conditions and get inputs from condition reports. Self-driving cars which are not autonomous will normally avoid the trolley problem and its variants (for instance two cars approaching one another round a blind bend on a mountain road will be aware of one another and slow down.)

Cats are largely autonomous, the smallest social unit is one cat. Dogs are connected, the smallest social unit is two dogs (or dog plus owner). Self driving cars will be far more like dogs than cats.

Or, put it another way, autonomous cars are an Ayn Rand fantasy. Practical self driving cars will need a considerable injection of socialism.


#14

Not true. Ayn Rand fantasies involved trains on poorly-designed, derailment-likely steel rails. Fully autonomous cars are most certainly an Objectivist fantasy, however, as their sole interactions will be via violations of the NAP and subsequent financial interactions via “rational” insurance companies :wink:

Humor aside, so very much yes on agreement on this.


#15

I can imagine business setting up signs to trick vehicles to reroute into their parking lots (“Honest, officer, I had no idea my Big Sale sign would make the Google Auto OS detour onto my store grounds with all its fabulous discounts!”)

How about “pranksters” sticking QR codes or whatever on street signs / traffic lights to bork your car into blue screen?

Car jacking becomes easier when you figure out which road conditions, real or not, will make an autonomous car pull over.

I do think there are enough smart folks to cover the basics, slowly filling in the security gaps over time, but just as we have ads on taxis, buses, and metros, it’ll be hard to shift such ideas away from cars as a shareable service.

I look forward to napping on my future commutes, though.


#16

There’s a book idea in that…

alternatively:

I see what you did there. And I hope everyone else did but from the replies you got I don’t know if reading Cory’s books is quite the boing boing cool kids club prerequisite it used to be. (nb. not really a prerequisite, it just used to follow the website he edited inevitably had a lot of his readers commenting. I sure remember reading EST, Down and Out, and Little Brother and thinking “he’s totally using a whole bunch of stuff I’ve read about on boing boing”)


#17

It’s not an offence in the UK, though slow drivers can be prosecuted for ‘driving without reasonable consideration’. A tractor driver was recently fined for this.

‘Failure to make satisfactory progress’ is (if I remember correctly) the wording used when someone fails their driving test for driving too slowly or cautiously.


#18

Increases in productivity and automation always seem like they are going to lead to a world with more nap opportunities, but somehow these naps never seem to materialize…


#19

Consider me to be bowing politely in your direction.


#20

Yes, you are correct. But there was a case recently where the police prosecuted someone who had been driving slowly through part of Wales.
Also, the rules for motorways state that the overtaking lane is to be used for overtaking, and that would cover lane blocking. Enoch Powell, may the fires of Hell never quench around him unless he starts to feel cold, used to have his chauffeur drive at 65mph in the overtaking lane of the motorway, and then reported to the police everyone who overtook on the inside. The police were frustrated because enough motorists never got together to permit the prosecution of Powell’s chauffeur.