Self-driving car manufacturers are reportedly attempting to assuage consumer fears that their products do not adequately replicate mankind’s capacity for reckless, idiotic, and deeply selfish decision-making on the road.
Industry reports emerged Wednesday suggesting that researchers at several large automobile manufacturers are attempting to create self-driving vehicles with the ability to aggressively tailgate, refuse to yield to pedestrians, swerve signal-less from lane to lane, and execute other maneuvers that showcase a fundamentally human disregard for the fragile and infinitely precious lives of their fellow man. To best approximate a human driver, the machines would also have to display a perfect lack of self-doubt about the fairness of their asinine behaviors or their own (clearly lacking) abilities as a robotic driver.
Polls indicate that the average American believes that robotic drivers will remain a mere facsimile of their human counterparts until they gain the capacity for impulsive and narcissistic decision-making. This scramble may be based upon a recently released study, which reported that most consumers said that they would feel “much safer” in a self-driving car that had the ability to curse at other vehicles for existing in its vicinity and following the rules of the road. A further majority affirmed that they hoped that technology companies would install a device that allowed self-driving cars to express rage or frustration over minor inconveniences through a selection of obscene gestures.
“It would be unnatural otherwise, you know?” said one anonymous study participant, “I just couldn’t be comfortable in a car that wasn’t driven by something with the ability to get so angry, it could hop right out of the car and absolutely go to town on some guy’s windshield with a baseball bat.”
Broader market trends have increasingly shown that consumers are uncomfortable entrusting their safety to technologies without clear human foibles. Many labor unions have expressed concern over the use of assembly-line robots, saying that they lack a human worker’s ability to become deeply disheartened and disillusioned by the monotonous nature of the work before dying at an early age because of their sedentary lifestyle. Text-to-speech personally assistants are widely viewed with suspicion for their inhumanly helpful and cheerful tone – although Apple is rumored to be developing “Mary Beth”, a robotic personal assistant capable of making subtle and cutting judgmental remarks about your personal life.
We may soon see many companies taking steps to replicate crippling human flaws in their emerging technologies. At press time, researchers from several leading driving-technology firms were also scrambling to meet the consumer desire for a self-driving car that could make moral decisions about who to save in an unavoidable collision on the basis of instinctive racial biases.
– MH ’20