Morals and the Machine
One way of dealing with these difficult questions is to avoid them altogether, by banning autonomous battlefield robots and requiring cars to have the full attention of a human driver at all times. Campaign groups such as the International Committee for Robot Arms Control have been formed in opposition to the growing use of drones. But autonomous robots could do much more good than harm. Robot soldiers would not commit rape, burn down a village in anger or become erratic decision-makers amid the stress of combat. Driverless cars are very likely to be safer than ordinary vehicles, as autopilots have made planes safer. Sebastian Thrun, a pioneer in the field, reckons driverless cars could save 1m lives a year.
Instead, society needs to develop ways of dealing with the ethics of robotics—and get going fast. In America states have been scrambling to pass laws covering driverless cars, which have been operating in a legal grey area as the technology runs ahead of legislation. It is clear that rules of the road are required in this difficult area, and not just for robots with wheels.
via Peter Asaro