How far are we to ethical machines?

Will we be safe when surrounded by machines? Cautious estimates say that in 2025 the share of autonomous cars in the total car market will increase to 13% and reach USD 42 billion.

BrandsIT etyczna maszyna Norbert Biedrzycki blog

My article in BrandsIT dated June 27th, 2018.


Developers involved in creating algorithms used in autonomous cars should be prepared for the fact that their work may soon become the subject of heated ethical debate. The growing popularity of autonomous vehicles is already occupied by the heads of lawyers and legislators. This is because the issues of good and evil are complicated, related to road safety.

Car industry is closely watching the achievements of Tesla and Google. The latter regularly provides reports, which show that its autonomous cars are traveling more and more kilometers without a fault and without creating dangerous situations for traffic. Noticeable is the growing optimism of the entire automotive industry when it comes to the future of this type of car. Their mass production will start or run soon: Mercedes, Ford, Citroen, Volvo.

Almost every major manufacturer can build an autonomous vehicle today, test it and prepare it for traffic. But that’s just the beginning. For some time, the demand for cars and revenues of corporations due to their sale will be limited due to complicated legal and … ethical issues.


On the way, we see a car driven by a man. A wife is sitting next to him, two children in the back. Suddenly, a child runs out in front of the vehicle, chasing after the ball. The distance between the child and the car is minimal. What does the driver do reflexively? Either he brakes suddenly or violently turns … and lands on a tree, wall, in a ditch, and in the least optimistic scenario he enters other pedestrians. And what happens when there is an autonomous vehicle in the same situation? Imagine that his driver, satisfied that he does not have to worry about anything, took a minute nap. The car must choose what to do when a child pops up on the road. What does the car do? We do not know. It depends on how it has been programmed.

In short, you can theoretically choose three ways to – let’s call it – ethical programming algorithms that can largely determine the behavior of the car.

The first way assumes that in the case of an accident and the threat to life, the good of all the participants of the accident (ie the driver, passengers and the child on the road) is jointly and severally important.

In the second approach, the most important is the life of pedestrians and road users.

In the third approach, the priority is to protect the life of the driver and passengers.


Everything depends on what algorithm will be decisive in this case and which one will choose the given company.


Link to the full article (in Polish)


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Leave a Reply


  1. Acula

    Well despite progress in AI it is still quite stupid. And we hard time make it more intelligent that say, a worm. This is because expanding resources available to AI (a trick that worked for regular computers) tends to make AI more stupid rather than more intelligent as having such capability it tends to memorize instead of generalizing. Hence creating complicated AI systems capable of thought seems to be well ahead of us.

    The future is just an illusion in physics. This is just one possible way of ordering events. And not particularly remarkable one – outside of the way ur mind operates – that we can remember the past but cannot remember the future.

  2. SimonMcD

    Some experts say it could take anywhere from five to thirty years to develop autonomous weapons systems, but others would argue that these weapons already exist. They don’t necessarily look like androids with guns, though. The recently tested X-47B is one of the most advanced unmanned drones in the US military. It takes off, flies, and lands on a carrier with minimal input from its remote pilot. The Harpy drone, built by Israel and sold to other nations, autonomously flies to a patrol area, circles until it detects an enemy radar signal, and then fires at the source. Meanwhile, defense systems like the US Phalanx and the Israeli Iron Dome automatically shoot down incoming missiles, which leaves no time for human intervention.

  3. Tom Jonezz

    As computer technologies advance alongside biotechnologies, there is a growing convergence between the two in the form of neural interfaces that in the future can open the door to linking your mind directly to an AI in order to facilitate greater learning, overcome neurological conditions, or just to use the internet.

  4. Jacek Krasko

    According to Gartner:
    “China and the US will be neck-and-neck for dominance of the global market by 2025. China which will account for 21 % of global AI power, ahead of the US on 20%. However, the US wins in terms of AI revenue (22 % vs 19 %). The third largest market is predicted to be Japan with 7 %”

    As regards the number of Industrial AI market:
    A new report from GSMA Intelligence forecasts that China is poised to lead the global Industrial AI market and could have as many as 4.1bn of the 13.8bn global AI Reve estimated to exist by 2025.

    • Norbert Biedrzycki  

      Add to that the sheer speed with which AI could process any information made available to it, and, if truly AI, realize the many ramifications of all of it. What takes a human a lifetime to learn and understand could happen in minutes or even seconds for AI. And if given the ability to manufacture more of themselves… what a nightmare

  5. Adam Spark Two

    All AI is is an abstraction or map of another system. If navigating said map is less expensive than navigating the system it maps, it is said to be intelligent.

    • Oscar2

      It is worth to predict an increase in demand by ………. for strong computing units. -:)

    • Acula

      As Prof. Frick says in The Simpsons episode “There Will Be Buds”, “Uh, well, Kent, these children will need their brains unbruised for the demanding, high-tech jobs of the future: polishing and buffing our robot masters.”

      • DDonovan

        So, even fewer full time jobs is their ultimate projection. The trend that’s already happening. Mind blowing.

        I’m skeptical of the predictions from the industries surveyed. A lot of those chief executives are going to be older people and that’s going to mean predictions which are rooted in past events which are more in line with a world in which robots weren’t poised to start doing everything.

        All that, and this is still early days. How long will all these part time jobs last? A lot of these jobs will cover infrastructure implementation to make the robot jobs easier. Once that’s in place, what then?

  6. ZoraBora

    Nice beginning. Unfortunately the rest in a language I do not understand