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Can a robot learn right from wrong? Attempts to imbue robots, self-driving cars and military machines with a sense of ethics reveal just how hard this is
In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm.
At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole.
Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions. Winfield admits he once thought it was not possible for a robot to make ethical choices for itself. Today, he says, "my answer is: I have no idea".
As robots integrate further into our everyday lives, this question will need to be answered. A self-driving car, for example, may one day have to weigh the safety of its passengers against the risk of harming other motorists or pedestrians. It may be very difficult to program robots with rules for such encounters."
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However, perfect information is never possible in the real world.
The growing proliferation of smart phones perfects the information access to the degree, where various governmental certifications are no longer necessary.
Without certification from a professional body, it would be very difficult for consumers to judge if a supplier is competent or not
The professional body itself need not be governmental. A consumer may not be able to judge the quality of electrical work, but comparing certification authorities is much easier. It will never be perfect, but it is unlikely to be worse than the current situation.
do you really want the system that "certifies" doctors to be based on trial and error (someone has to be the first patient).
It is based on trial and error today. Ever heard of hospital interns? Or student-dentists — working under supervision of seasoned doctors (supposedly) — people agree to be treated by them in exchange for steep discounts. This risk/cost balancing can — and should — be left to individuals, if they are as free as the citizens of this country like to fancy themselves.
Unfortunately, somebody will have to be the first person to write the "Woke up in the morning upside down in a ditch with my pants missing.
Unfortunately, nothing prevents just the same from happening with regular taxis — you've surrendered an essential liberty (of hiring whoever you want) in exchange for security and, predictably, lost both. It will just be less likely to happen with Uber — because the company's entire business is staked on the quality of the reviews (and drivers).
For many jobs no one requires a certified plumber or electrician or anything.
Where I live (NJ), all electrical work must be done by a licensed electrician — nobody else would simply be issued a permit.
For certain jobs it is a requirement to get a permit, but that is to protect lives.
Yes, sure. The benevolent government bureaucrats in their omniscient wisdom just have higher concern for my life, than I do myself...
In any case, such requirements as the exists, are demanded not by government but by bankers, insurance companies
That would be great, if it were true. It is not. The work must be accepted by the city's employee, who is not personally responsible for it anyway — the installer is. The inspector may — depending on his disposition that day and his general opinion of the house-owner and the installer (their origins, religion, race, personal hygiene) — choose to overlook something fairly important, or make an issue of nothing just to delay the work and the family's moving-in. There is no oversight, no (meaningful) way to appeal, and no alternative.
good recommendations from people who had no expertise in critiquing the actual work
So, you are suggesting, the work of certain professions simply can not be reviewed by the actual consumers — and the sole available fount of the necessary expertise, in your opinion, are the above-mentioned government workers — who do not even have any skin of their own in the game.
And, in a typically Illiberal fashion, you want to impose your opinion on the rest of us — instead of simply allowing people, who are as concerned as you claim to be, to hire independent inspectors — or relying on their insurance companies (or the morgage-holding banks) to hire them (the way they already hire various appraisers). At least, the insurer risks (substantial) money, if your house blows. On the other hand, if the insurer gets overzealous (as numerous building inspectors do), you can switch the insurer. You'll have a choice, in other words — without selling your house and moving to another town.
This was absolutely Uber's right to do, after all the contractors could just leave, but I think it speaks to an issue with capitalistic fantasy.
What "fantasy"? It works exactly the way Capitalism is supposed to — a moment Uber slips-up, various competitors (GetT, Lyft, others) will pick up the disgruntled drivers — many of them are already signed with all of these companies anyway.
All you need to do to game the system as an Uber driver is put together a network of colluders to give you good reviews after you give them "rides".
How exactly would you do it? Are they going to be friends of yours? Will you be giving them good rides, while robbing others? And you'll still be a single bad driver of the Uber's "stable" of millions...
In the past, you only needed to find a few bad actors within the government
An entrenched incumbent — such as a health-inspector or taxi commissioner — is much harder to dislodge from government, than your imaginary bad driver would be. And what incentive will the government have of even attempting such dislodging? Only the general distaste for corruption — hardly a powerful force, unfortunately. On contrast, Uber's entire business is staked on the quality of the reviews so they are far more likely to keep their system functioning well.
now literally anyone can help you with your racket
You are yet to explain, how the racket would work: what exactly will the incentive be for the fraudulent reviewers... Remember, you can only give a review to a driver, if you've driven with him — and paid him (and Uber) real money. And the driver must maintain his rating above 4.3 — or he gets thrown out. So three upset passengers giving the "racketeer" 1-star reviews will negate ten 5-star responses from his buddies (53/13 = 4.07)...
The source of the decrease is fairly obvious — if people can not profit from an activity, they are likely to reduce partaking in it. It goes from being a profession into a hobby.
Now, what would the source of increase be?
Historically, governments justified the "certification" requirements imposed on people wishing to pursue various professions by the consumers' inability to share the information required to make an informed choice of a service provider.
For example, arriving to a new city, you don't know, what taxi company is decent and which hires serial rapists — the city hall should issue "medallions" to the good drivers and fight attempts by the non-vetted to provide the same services without paying the authorities their due.
Uber is showing, how the consumer feedback, that's easy to provide and is immediately available to anyone with a smart phone, obviates the need for such certifications — along with the associated costs and the abuse-potential. Taxi-services is not the only market, where things can (and should!) be changed by the pervasive smart-phones. Plumbers and electricians would be next on my list of professions, which should not require certifications (though some may seek approvals from non-governmental authorities like "Angie's List", if they choose to). Then restaurateurs — patrons could report roach-sightings just as well (or better) than a city's health-inspector. Then lawyers and eventually, even veterinarians and human doctors...
Gain control? For what purpose?
For the same reason politicians become politicians (and policemen become pigs) — the feeling of control over fellow human beings gives them a high...
The way I see it, if this all bogus, we end up with cleaner air, less pollution and a better place to live.
Not obviously, actually. Tesla's wonderful batteries, for example, are a hell to make and aren't particularly easy to dispose of either. The early "green" toilets don't use enough water to do the job quite often — requiring multiple flushes, where an old one would've done with one. The mandatory recycling of this and that requires additional trucks on the road to haul the "special" refuse without clear benefits to the environment — in fact, often enough the stuff ends up in general refuse anyway after incurring all of the costs (financial and environmental) of the separate handling. The certified "green" buildings (sometimes?) use more energy, than regular structures...
You win either way.
Yeah. There is this line of thinking — Blaise Pascal, in his time, put forth the same idea on whether or not God exists.
Good to see, you aren't (any longer?) claiming it is the science, that drives your thinking about global warming... You aren't alone.
The Antarctic sea ice extent was not and is not projected to shrink in the near term.
Bzzz! False. Quoting the above-mentioned professor of "Climate Change" from Australia (emphasis mine): "Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up".
If you're not paying enough attention to the science to understand even that simple concept why should I think anything else you have to say is worth listening to.
You can keep looking for an excuse to ignore me — or just close your ears and sing "La-la-la". Truth remains — global warming was "oversold" to the general population by the usual alliance of the dishonest seeking to profit from the implementation of measures proposed to fight it and the stupid, who agreed with them.
The various dire predictions are failing to materialize — and even when they were made, none of his allies have questioned, why Al Gore himself purchased a wonderful piece of real estate on the coast rather than in the mountains somewhere.
To continue to push forward policies based on the same predictions — and the (pseudo-)scientific models that lead to them in the first place, is irresponsible if not outright criminal...
If it’s all a "liberal" conspiracy, what are they trying to gain?
All people already in government would gain increased governmental control over the citizenry's lives — the vast majority of them believe, they "know better" than their subjects — bless our little hearts — how to live. Which is why you haven't yet seen a "green" measure proposed, that reduced that control, have you?
In addition, the "green" measures cause the Capitalism to slow down — a cause dear to the Illiberals and the foreign handlers of some of them. Seriously, scratch a "green" activist, and you'll find a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath...
I can see what you get to gain by denying the problem exists
Could you be more specific? What do I get to gain? Do you suppose, I — or the KKKoch brothers — have a wonderful new planet for ourselves (or our children) to emigrate to, when Earth becomes too polluted? Some kind of Elysium being built for the 1%?
It makes no difference to the topic of dire predictions not materializing... Because it means, that other predictions made by the same people using the same methods aren't likely to materialize either — and thus any public policies based on such predictions should be scrapped.
The future of Uber is about pharmacies and rickshaws.
So says CEO Travis Kalanick, who is bullish the company is worth more than its $18 billion valuation. Currently, Uber is quadrupling each year, he said.
One of several avenues for expansion is in a category of delivery that's about running errands.
"In Los Angeles, we're doing something called Uber Fresh, which is you push a button and you get a lunch in five minutes," Kalanick told CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "In DC, we're doing Uber Corner Store. So imagine all the things you get at a corner store.
"FedEx isn't going to your nearest pharmacy and delivering something to you in five minutes," he continued.
Another is in emerging markets, where the company may focus on rickshaws, rather than high-end black cars, Kalanick said. Uber operates in more than 200 cities, including Cali, Colombia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lima, Peru; and New Delhi, India."
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