The Real Moral Dilemma of Self-Driving Cars

The Real Moral Dilemma of Self-Driving Cars


Push this button. It’s driving itself. It feels good. So, BMW brought me to the Consumer
Electornics Show here in Las Vegas. I’m going to check out
the future of driving. Did I get it? Am I near? [unintelligible] Oh! I felt it! That really felt like pushing a button. In this concept car, there’s
a holographic menu screen. It works by projecting an
image above this panel. And then it uses this camera in the
streering column to determine where your finger is. And when it detects your
fingers in the right spot, it uses ultrasound from these
speakers to provide haptic feedback – you can actually feel it in your fingers. It’s like a little buzzing. But what I really want
to try is NOT driving. I can actually talk to the camera. Are you sure that this is a good idea? So here’s a question: How much should you
trust an autonomous car? This car is now driving itself. But I need to be able to
take over at any time. I’m still legally reponsible if
something happens to the car, right? But, in the coming years, cars are
going to take over more and more of the responsibility for driving safely. And that has led a lot of people to
consider the moral dilemmas faced when programming self-driving cars. The question is what sort of ethical
framework should we program in through autonomous vehicles. So it needs to make a decision. Swerve left into an SUV or
swerve right into a motorcycle. Okay, so we can imagine a lot of weird
situations where an autonomous car has to make a tough choice. But the real moral dilema is
accidents are happening right now. More than 30,000 people are
killed each year in the U.S. alone. And more than 2 million are injured. And the problem in 94%
of collisions is driver error. In 2015, half of all traffic
fatalities occurred on highways. So even this level of technology
we’ve demonstrated today – autonomous driving on a highway –
could save a lot of lives. We are already shirking our
responsibility for driving cars. We are using our phones. In 2014, distracted driving resulted in at
least 3,000 killed 430,000 injured. So, if we’re not driving, we better
hope that the tech gets to a level where the cars can drive for us. My view: this problem is
only going to get worse. You know, when elevators
became autonomous, a lot of people were
uncomfortable with that. They were used to there
being a driver in the elevator, so compromises had to be made,
like big red stop buttons just to make people comfortable. And a nice soothing voice to say
“Which floor would you like to go to?” Now, I know that elevators have many
fewer degrees of freedom than a car, but even if you look at
something like airplanes, airplanes flying in full autonomous mode
are actually safer – studies show – than when pilots can take control. I think the moral dilemmas over exactly
how cars should react in a tiny percentage of cases where tough
choices need to be made is a distraction from the main problem. The longer we wait to get
autonomous vehicles on the road, the more people will die. And that is the real moral
question of autonomous cars. Why aren’t we getting
them on the road faster? I hope you enjoyed the ride. That was cool. Now let’s head back for the CES. Perfect.