“Self-driving cars don’t run red lights”

When the CA bill essentially legalized self-driving cards, Sergey joined the Governor onstage for the bill-signing ceremony. The very first question from the audience was “Who is responsible for the ticket when the self-driving car runs a red light?”

With characteristic wit, Sergey stepped calmly in front of the Governor (who was clearly struggling with the question) to say: “Self-driving cars don’t run red lights.” Everybody laughed.

And, in general, he’s right. Self-driving cars, well-coded robots in general will do better than humans (sorry Terminator fans!)….but, not always.

Recently, as part of an art project debuting in Zurich, entitled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland”, theĀ Random Darknet Shopper will be unveiled. This bot, created by a couple of artists-engineers, was given $100 in bitcoin and told to make a purchase a day from the Deep Web.

What did it buy? 10 ecstasy pills and a very legitimate fake Hungarian passport.

So, what are the implications of this? Are the artists responsible since they executed the code? Did theyknowingly or willingly subvert the law or was it better described as recklessness? All of which has profound implications for who’s at fault.

This comes back to the age-old question of how policy catches up with technology. I think all those who work in technology can do a better job of helping policymakers wrestle with these tradeoffs rather than throwing up their hands and saying ‘good luck.’

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