Google will be the 1st to know your time of death

It sounds a bit scary, but Google has now gotten into the death prediction business. No, they don’t have an algorithm that figures out how long you have until your wife finds out about your old Ashley Madison account. They are building self-driving cars.

Null != Null but is Life != Life

The old adage about all human life being equal is a fallacy when it comes to self-driving cars. Imagine the following scenario.

You and your friends are driving in your human-driven car in downtown Austin. A Google self-driving car is behind you. Just then a truck loses it cargo and the car in front of you swerves to the right and slams on their brakes. You immediately swerve to the left and slam on your brakes. Due to debris on either side of the Google self-driving car, it cannot maneuver out of the way or stop in time and it will most certainly collide with either the car to the left or the car to the right. And at its current speed, it will kill someone. Who does it pick?

The Google car will have to evaluate life in a mere instant. It will have to figure out how many occupants are in each car (let’s say for this example that each car has 4 people). It will then have to quickly evaluate ages in the car. But how can it tell how old you are? You better have an Android phone so it can query the car for passengers. Maybe it will run a quick report from the DMV on both license plates and then run a criminal background or even a FICO score on the owner and the occupants.

What about the potential for someone’s life? Will it choose which car to hit and which to miss based on what you have done, what profession you have, if you smoke, whether or not you have been arrested, or if you are single versus having a wife and three kids?

Each bug could kill you

We don’t get to decide nor do we even have a voice in the matter. A group of engineers in California get to choose for us. We don’t know what the metrics are just yet, but what if there is a bug in the code that chooses “poorly” on rainy days? Watch out Seattle!

But let’s say for sake of argument that they get it right each time. The Google self-driving car will know which car will be impacted. In fact Google could send its condolences milliseconds before you die.

Google could even update your social media with a “life event” or cancel your scheduled meetings for the rest of the week.

Heaven forbid they modify your family’s AdWords on subsequent searches to include funeral home services. The potential for increased margins on pay-per-clicks are abound.

Let’s hope that Google provides us with some of the rules by which it is making its decisions.

And let’s all be thankful for the demise of Google+. Because coupled with Google self-driving cars, it could have easily turned into Google-.