Paper Topic: So-called “driverless cars” are being tes...

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Paper Topic:
So-called “driverless cars” are being tested now on roadways in America. Discuss the ethical issues involved with this technology and the related one of artificial intelligence (Al). Will these systems have to be programmed to make ethical decisions on the fly? How can this be done to most effectively ensure public health and safety?
Method: Papers should adhere to the following format:
a. Introductory paragraph(s) with a clear these statement
b. Background information (no more than 2 pages)
c. Identifying/discussing main ethical issues (about 2 pager)
d. Evaluating solutions to the issues (about 2 pages)

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These solutions may offer step-by-step problem-solving explanations or good writing examples that include modern styles of formatting and construction of bibliographies out of text citations and references. Students may use these solutions for personal skill-building and practice. Unethical use is strictly forbidden.

In this brief discussion, the complexities of the ethical dimensions concomitant with the development of driverless AI are explored. The driving principle is that, in order for this issue to be properly understood, the gravity of the factors involved need to be grasped – but, preferably, by starting with relatively ‘simpler’, more approachable scenarios and working ‘up’. Thus, the first part of this paper examines a recent, fictional depiction of an ethical-situational discussion between a person and a computer; this scene helps present many of the most important dimensions of AI and ethics, but in an approachable, illuminating way. Then, based on this scene, the discussion is brought back to earth and the problems of ethics and driverless AI. In keeping with tradition, the Trolley Problem is presented, but only as another stepping stone; the more effective thought experiment of the Survival Lottery is presented, toward demonstrating that, contrary to current practice, the problem of ethics and driverless AI is a society-wide, policy problem concerned with engineering and ethics – and thus demands a society-wide, collaborative policy solution.
Early in the second episode of the new series of Star Trek [warning: spoilers ahead], the series’ protagonist, Commander Burnham, is in the titular Discovery’s brig. The ship has come under heavy fire and has suffered major damage. Much of the deck on which the brig is located has been destroyed, leaving the brig protected from the void of space by nothing more than a failing containment field. Our (anti)hero has moments to live, before the field fails and she meets her end. Burnham asks the ship computer to implement emergency evacuation protocols for the brig; the computer denies the request, stating that its ethical protocols dictate that prisoners are to be evacuated only in life-saving circumstances. Burnham replies by pointing out it is a life-saving circumstance because she will die in the cell unless she is released; the computer responds, “Speculation. Request to engage ethical protocols denied.” Then, Burnham asks the computer to calculate how much time remains...

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