Self-programming Autonomous vehicles makes people less selfish

Self-driving cars not far off, but the development of rules that will govern them, was a daunting task. What should the cars? To take a human point of view, which often panders to their own interests, or to act for the common good? It turned out that if you allow people to program Autonomous transport, the gap between self-interest and the greater good is reduced.

The ethics of self-driving cars

The focus in this area was given to the most urgent moral dilemmas — how to behave as Autonomous cars when we are talking about life or death. Research 2016 showed that people broadly support the model of utilitarian programming, to save the lives of more people, even if it endangers the life of the driver. But these same people have openly expressed that they are less willing to buy a car that may sacrifice himself to save others.

A few months ago the same group of researchers published a global survey on the topic of relationship to the cars, which showed that the moral principles which, in the opinion of the people should be used to their programming, vary considerably from country to country.

And yet, not so long ago in PNAS appeared a work on a more common social dilemmas that are not associated with mortal danger, but still opposes the individual interests of the collective. The drivers are already oriented in similar situations every day; slow down and miss someone is, of course, add a few seconds of time travel, but if everyone would do so, the movement will be more smoothly.

The authors acknowledge that decisions on how to program Autonomous cars to handle these situations will not be accepted solely by the owner; manufacturers and regulators will likely play a big role. However, they wanted to find out how the process of programming these early decisions, not taking them on the fly will affect the choice of the people.

There has been a substantial body of research showing that the involvement of people in decision-making process ahead of time leads to a more equitable and less selfish decisions. A new study has shown that it is applicable to the context of programming Autonomous cars.

Researchers have developed a computer experiment based on the classic prisoner’s dilemma in which players have to choose between cooperation or a waiver. Four participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk given the management of one car and they had to choose to turn on the air conditioner each time when the vehicle is stopped or not.

Off the air conditioner, was described as a collective good, because it reduces fuel consumption and reduces the harm to the environment. Was financial reward, which varied depending on how many people decide to cooperate or evaded in each round. Financial remuneration was structured in such a way that players felt it was more profitable to refuse cooperation, but if everyone refused, the cumulative result was worse than in the case of total cooperation.

In each game the car was stopped 10 times, but while half of the participants made decisions every time the car stopped, as if they drove themselves, the other half make their decisions for all 10 stops from the start, if independently programmed my car.

In different experiments, the scientists found that the people who programmed their machines in advance, have always been more inclined to cooperate than those who made decisions on the fly.

In trying to figure out why, the researchers conducted tests in which the interface of the game emphasized different aspects of the problem (focus on itself against the focus on the team; or focus on the monetary reward versus environment), and analyzed self-assessment of motivation of the participants.

The results showed that the early programming of vehicles has made participants less focused on short-term financial reward. Interestingly, in another experiment, where participants were able to reprogram the car after each round, they still cooperated more than those who made the decisions directly. This is important, scientists say, because manufacturers will likely allow buyers to set the parameters of the vehicle depending on the driving experience.

This kind of study may seem rather abstract, but specific rewards and motivations used in this experiment is far removed from the actual driving process. But the fundamental conclusion is that the separation of people from the immediate decision-making — that will definitely do the self-driving car — leads to the fact that people are more willing to cooperate. This is important as we increasingly rely on machines that will decide for us.

Almost all agree that self-driving cars are on average safer, greener and more efficient. But recent reports that cars with independent management, will run through the city at low speed, and not to Park, emphasize potential pitfalls in the future.

And what will your decision be? To sacrifice your own interests or to meet the public? Tell us in our chat in Telegram.

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