Thank you for your reflection.
In one sense it is a moral debate, that we can’t really solve.
But as a society, we let it on the hands of the individuals, on how to deal with these circumstances in their own judgment.
From my perspective, machines, they do not make decisions, and that’s why we train the models, and feed systems with lots and lots data.
The real risk are the totally unexpected cases, never taken into account.
Those that are truly a surprise to everybody, including a hardware or software failure, a crazy guy heading his vehicle toward, or even a terrorist threat.
I remember once driving my car after an earthquake, trying to go to help the victims, suddenly I found that a bridge in front of me it was gone, it had collapsed, and I was driving very fast ready to jump into the void.
Sure I learned from that experience, but no one else did.
In a system where each experience feeds a globalized system, all other cars are going to learn right away.
Signals and real-time communication can also be implemented, so to be able to instruct immediately the car’s behavior.
The key point of your concern is, who should take responsibility for the decision taken?
1. The Society?
2. The community and the researchers that feed the models?
3. Or as it is done today, by mean of each individual driver?
In the last case, we are also letting that decision in the hands of the drunk driver, or the guy running away from the police car, or the person that did not realize in time before causing an accident, because he or she was texting and also driving instead of just driving.
Today many individuals are taking that decision to the detriment of innocent lives, that had not the chance to choose.
Probably the answer must be based in the death casualties expected for each case. We have the actual data and we can project the new scenario.
I believe that we are about to start a new era.
If an elder person suffer a heart attack, instead of kill himself and to others in a car crash or accident, the self driving car can save his or her life, because the car can take him/her directly to the closest hospital.
From my perspective, one of the biggest challenges for self driving car project, is not to train the cars in accordance to all the rules and enforcing the Law, but it is how to interact with the vehicles driven by the people, that are truly unpredictable.
In my case I rather be comfortably seated while reading and do some texting safely, working a bit more, or talking to my wife a couple of extra hours a day while my car is taking care of me and of the road, than to stressed by driving in a repetitive fashion.