The car did it
Much has been made in the tech press in recent years about the ethical dilemmas around self-driving vehicles. Who’s to blame in the event of a crash? Should the cars kill pedestrians to save passengers, or vice-versa?
One news story yesterday was a reminder that while new laws will one day resolve these issues, today’s laws apply to them for now, however messy that may be.
Sky News reported
that in the UK, manufacturers of autonomous vehicles could face jail under the Health & Safety Act if their creations kill anyone.
While this could be interpreted as the law being already well-equipped to handle this new technology, there’s also a good chance that it won’t be quite fine-tuned enough to take into account all the special circumstances around artificial intelligence and machine learning.
And what other existing laws might be not quite a good enough fit for self-driving vehicles, but would be applied anyway because the legal system tends to lag behind new technologies for years?
This is just life – it’s how these things work, but it’s a reminder that technology isn’t the only hurdle autonomous vehicles might face.
A patchwork of new and old laws – and the risk of jail time for incidents that may be difficult to accurately apportion blame to – help point to the fact that we’re a long way from the glorious self-driving future some once claimed was just a few years away.