Friday, August 14, 2015
  More on GoogCar

Reading this essay in Spiked on driverless cars. Fairly old article that has accumulated a bunch of comments. Author raises serious questions, mainly Who is programming the driverless cars? Which type of morality and ethics will be embodied in the decisions?

We know the answer, of course. Google and Apple. This means that Goog/Aapl ethics will be embodied. Goog/Aapl ethics are ETHICS. The word has only one meaning now.

ETHICS = Kill the poor, enrich the rich.

Pedestrians are poor and often defective. Untermenschen. Kill them.

Most of the comments are from Tech Tyrants who have also been programmed by G/A. Some are from outsiders who understand the problem with G/A ethics.

The first one is typical of Tech Tyrants running G/A code.
The central argument is nonsense. I want driver-less cars because I do not like driving, and I want to be able to use a car when I am not fit to drive (a freedom those who have chauffeurs already enjoy). You may as well argue that public transport deprives us of moral choices, or that using email deprives secretaries and postmen of the moral choice of deciding to whether or not to send/deliver a letter.
"When I am not fit to drive" raises a completely different point that hasn't been discussed much. The usual proposal assumes that GoogCar will be similar to taxis. The cars will be owned by Google, and will somehow pick you up when you need a ride.

Aha! But what happens when you're not fit to drive? When you're drunk or drugged or senile or permanently disabled? How does the car recognize whether you're even fit to sit, or fit to get in and out of the car competently? Aside from actual disability, drunks are often unable to get out of a taxi and cross the parking lot to the bar door without assistance. What if you're incontinent? Pissing and shitting and puking? Will the next passenger enjoy the car? Who pays to clean up? What happens if you're malicious enough to take control of the car? There will undoubtedly be a way to do it, and there will be assholes who enjoy trying. What if you want to use the car for a robbery or kidnapping or drive-by shooting?

Cabbies and bus drivers face all of these problems daily, and they try to solve them humanely up to a point. Beyond that point, which is purely subjective, the common good requires leaving the passenger out in the cold. Don't pick him up.

There's NO WAY a car can make that judgment on its own. It WILL require human intervention, perhaps via some kind of GoogSecure with vast banks of humans observing TV monitors. And now you're back to human cabbies after all.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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