(Photo: istock)
(Photo: istock)

Focus is on responsible technology, innovation

  • Germany has come out with guidelines for automated cars which state the software that controls such cars must be programmed to avoid injury or death of people
  • We have reached the tipping point and we need regulation to help innovation

NEW DELHI: Machines are taking over our world and robots do benefit us all but is this all fact or fiction? According to N.S. Nappinai, Supreme Court lawyer and cyber law expert, it is time to do a reality check and shed some light on the darker side of machines and artificial intelligence (AI).

According to Nappinai, we have reached the tipping point and we need regulation to help innovation. She cited cases of autonomous cars globally to illustrate her point. In one such case, a Tesla car’s sensor failed, and it could not see a coming trailer. The driver died but the driver was held liable though he was on autopilot. In another instance, a pedestrian was hit by a self-driving Uber car. So are autonomous cars really safer?

Accidents like these offer the first test of how consumers will react when reminded that they are putting their lives in the hands of computer code when they turn over control of the wheel.

Then there is the question of who will bear the liability. Germany has come out with guidelines for automated cars which state the software that controls such cars must be programmed to avoid injury or death of people. That means when an accident is unavoidable, the software must choose which action will hurt people the least, even if that means destroying property or hitting animals on the road. The guideline also says that the software may not decide on its course of action based on the age, sex or physical condition of any people involved.

Singapore has released a set of national standards to guide the local industry in the “safe" development and rollout of autonomous vehicles.

In India, too, the Niti Aayog has come out with a policy statement but it is more on the personal data protection aspect, not the liability aspect. Nappinai concluded that we need responsible technology and innovation.

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