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Harley Lover

Landmark patent Decision the Death Knell for Self-driving Automobiles?

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Posted (edited)

Not sure where to drop this, but the article makes some interesting points/assertions that I was interested in sharing here and hearing the viewpoint of others. 

Quote

On April 27, the U.S. government officially rejected two patents in which an artificial intelligence system called Dabus was listed as the inventor. Though physicist Stephen Thaler, the creator of Dabus, said he had nothing to do with the inventions — namely a food container easy for robots to grasp and some sort of unique warning light — the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office ruled that only “natural persons” can be recognized as inventors.

Engineers realize machine learning is absolutely essential to fully autonomous automobiles, yet no one, not engineers nor their managers, wants to take responsibility for AI’s actions. Let that sink in for a moment. Artificial intelligence is seemingly essential for the self-driving car of the future, but who in their right mind is going to accept responsibility for an algorithm that can morph into something they didn’t invent? 

The instances of self-driving cars balking at situations they have not been programmed for are unsurprisingly common and, despite our best efforts, will continue ad infinitum. We will never be able to claim a car is totally autonomous — i.e., that it can be driven anywhere under any circumstance — unless it can react to new situations without outside input. 

Someday, somewhere, a robotic car will have to make a decision of equivalencies: Given no safe alternative, whom do I kill — the owner of the car I am controlling, or the three children in back of the school bus? The grandmother to the left, or the two toddlers to the right? Rhetorical you may think these questions are, but MIT took this classic “Trolley Problem” seriously enough to conduct an online survey to determine where our moral driving compasses point. And I can assure you that automakers — an exception might have to be made for Tesla — are indeed struggling with these very questions. 

If our future self-driving cars are to operate only with the algorithms we code into their ECUs, then those decisions will have to be premeditated. That is, someone will have to program them with their moral compass; whose life to save and whose to not. If, on the other hand, an AI’ed automobile can “learn” to make those decisions on its own, those programmers — and the car companies they work for — are off the hook. Now do you get why engineers might be eager to have patents granted to Artificial Intelligence?

 

https://driving.ca/features/feature-story/motor-mouth-let-the-war-between-man-and-machine-begin

 

Edited by Harley Lover

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Honestly this is going to just be like Star Trek. We'll create androids/holograms/AI to serve and entertain us... eventually they'll get really smart, and some will deny their individuality and personhood while others embrace it... before eventually being recognized as a new form of life.


Of course, that's all a little far down the line.  I kind of do think you almost need full AI to make this tech work... unless you can somehow spend hundreds of hours programing all those contingencies. You'll probably also need smart road tech to assist from the infrastructure side. Just a lot of variables, too many.

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Posted (edited)

Some people (not me) think that Siri is real and intelligent.

 

What this ruling does is prevent software developers hiding behind an intermediary software program in the hopes of avoiding any criminal or financial liability if or when their software has unintended consequences.

 

AVs will be confined to slow speed commercial applications until all parameters can be effective controlled. At the moment, AV programs are no better than a drunk claiming to be a good driver because he gets home safely.

Edited by jpd80

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Posted (edited)

IMHO, this doesn't really mean much for autonomous vehicles; automakers aren't going to have machine learning programs try to file for patents, anyway. As for the liability for AVs, we haven't even scratched the surface of that subject in any meaningful way, plus there's no relevant precedent set here--this is basically just the PTO punting. It's a simple logic problem: the PTO rules are set in statute by the Congress, and they say only a person can apply for a patent. A machine learning program is not a human, therefore it cannot be granted a patent. QED. 

 

Now, if the PTO had granted the patent, and a court had invalidated it, we might have a precedent that would be bad for AVs, but, as my dad says, if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his butt when he jumped.

Edited by SoonerLS

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Posted (edited)

Funny, a few years ago I was discussing autonomous vehicles with a neighbor who happens to be a retired insurance industry executive.  His opinion was that autonomous cars presented so many liability challenges he didn't think they would ever be widely adopted unless they only operated in very tightly controlled environments.   

Edited by 7Mary3

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We can only hope that this and the COVID 19 have deep sixed the AV talk for a while.

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5 hours ago, 7Mary3 said:

Funny, a few years ago I was discussing autonomous vehicles with a neighbor who happens to be a retired insurance industry executive.  His opinion was that autonomous cars presented so many liability challenges he didn't think they would ever be widely adopted unless they only operated in very tightly controlled environments.   

 

Yes sir, regulatory and liability issues are the biggest hurdle to large scale deployments of autonomous vehicles. Hopefully governments, insurance companies, etc around the world can clear the logjams and help get AV available to customers sooner.

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1 hour ago, rperez817 said:

 

Yes sir, regulatory and liability issues are the biggest hurdle to large scale deployments of autonomous vehicles. Hopefully governments, insurance companies, etc around the world can clear the logjams and help get AV available to customers sooner.

 

BAHHHAHAHHAHAHA

 

Only if it is in their financal interests to do so. Not to mention the network to support AVs is going to be super expensive roll out. 

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You mean all those regulations that make the roads safe from dangerous vehicles?   By all means, let's get rid of those.

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I just want a real autopilot, where I don't have to touch to wheel to keep it centered in crosswinds.  Something that makes it less tiring to make long interstate trips.

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45 minutes ago, akirby said:

You mean all those regulations that make the roads safe from dangerous vehicles?   By all means, let's get rid of those.

 

Are you referring to FMVSS at the federal level in the U.S.? No need to get rid of those completely. NHTSA can instead increase the number of exemptions to allow greater real world testing of AV.

 

At the state and local levels, governments can also take actions to foster increased testing and use of AV in their jurisdictions. Again, there's no need to completely get rid of existing motor vehicle regulations, just need to make amendments, allowances, and exemptions. Examples from NCSL. https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/regulating-autonomous-vehicles.aspx

  • Nevada: first state to pass an autonomous vehicle law in 2011, allows autonomous vehicles to be tested in the state, but the vehicle must be registered, insured and have a certificate of compliance issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Florida: first state to allow anyone with a valid driver’s license to operate an autonomous vehicle on public roads. Florida’s law does not require that an operator be in the vehicle, but the remote operator must have a means to engage or disengage the autonomous technology if necessary
  • Michigan: allows autonomous vehicles to be driven on public roads, eases testing restrictions for manufacturers, allows commercial use of autonomous vehicle technology and establishes the American Center for Mobility, a testing facility for connected and driverless cars
  • Tennessee:  prohibits local governments from banning the use of autonomous vehicles
  • Contra Costa County, California:  authorization to test the first fully autonomous vehicle not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator on certain public roads

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47 minutes ago, Flying68 said:

I just want a real autopilot, where I don't have to touch to wheel to keep it centered in crosswinds.  Something that makes it less tiring to make long interstate trips.

 

And that's where the technology should really be used - as a driver aid and as a safety backup.   AVs should be relegated to low speed use in controlled settings such as local deliveries, campuses, amusement parks, etc.

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36 minutes ago, rperez817 said:

 

Are you referring to FMVSS at the federal level in the U.S.? No need to get rid of those completely. NHTSA can instead increase the number of exemptions to allow greater real world testing of AV.

 

At the state and local levels, governments can also take actions to foster increased testing and use of AV in their jurisdictions. Again, there's no need to completely get rid of existing motor vehicle regulations, just need to make amendments, allowances, and exemptions. Examples from NCSL. https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/regulating-autonomous-vehicles.aspx

  • Nevada: first state to pass an autonomous vehicle law in 2011, allows autonomous vehicles to be tested in the state, but the vehicle must be registered, insured and have a certificate of compliance issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Florida: first state to allow anyone with a valid driver’s license to operate an autonomous vehicle on public roads. Florida’s law does not require that an operator be in the vehicle, but the remote operator must have a means to engage or disengage the autonomous technology if necessary
  • Michigan: allows autonomous vehicles to be driven on public roads, eases testing restrictions for manufacturers, allows commercial use of autonomous vehicle technology and establishes the American Center for Mobility, a testing facility for connected and driverless cars
  • Tennessee:  prohibits local governments from banning the use of autonomous vehicles
  • Contra Costa County, California:  authorization to test the first fully autonomous vehicle not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator on certain public roads

 

But that's the problem - making exemptions for AVs bypasses the safety regulations.  I would prefer to see a comprehensive test created that simulates real world conditions including road closures, traffic re-routing, obscured road markings, etc and the AV must handle those conditions before getting DOT approval to use public roads.   Right now we're letting AV mfrs do alpha and beta testing on public streets which is ridiculous.

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6 hours ago, akirby said:

 

And that's where the technology should really be used - as a driver aid and as a safety backup.   AVs should be relegated to low speed use in controlled settings such as local deliveries, campuses, amusement parks, etc.

The other area I see is automation of portside container Handling - elimination of humans in the compounded area, restricted to pick and set down of containers on trucks.

that improves security and tracking of where container is located and when it gets moved.

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7 minutes ago, jpd80 said:

The other area I see is automation of portside container Handling - elimination of humans in the compounded area, restricted to pick and set down of containers on trucks.

that improves security and tracking of where container is located and when it gets moved.


Absolutely - that fits the low speed controlled area use case.

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Most of the time, a driver/his insurance co. gets sued if he's to blame for the accident.  However, with AI, the only one you can sue is the vehicle mfr.!  That will bankrupt the auto mfrs. so fast they won't know what hit them!

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6 minutes ago, Joe771476 said:

Most of the time, a driver/his insurance co. gets sued if he's to blame for the accident.  However, with AI, the only one you can sue is the vehicle mfr.!  That will bankrupt the auto mfrs. so fast they won't know what hit them!


These will be sold to other companies, not owned by Ford.

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2 hours ago, Joe771476 said:

Most of the time, a driver/his insurance co. gets sued if he's to blame for the accident.  However, with AI, the only one you can sue is the vehicle mfr.! 

That question is far from answered, and I'd bet that the final answer is years away, but a few years ago, Volvo (the one Ford sold, not Volvo trucks) did say that they would take on the liability for Volvo autonomous vehicles.

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The key to fully functional AV vehicles IMO is only partly in the vehicles. The rest is in the environment. The task of getting an AV working in a road environment designed and built for humans is a tough one, but with key additions of AV support built into the roads, the task is much easier. 

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On 5/13/2020 at 6:01 AM, Joe771476 said:

Most of the time, a driver/his insurance co. gets sued if he's to blame for the accident.  However, with AI, the only one you can sue is the vehicle mfr.!  That will bankrupt the auto mfrs. so fast they won't know what hit them!

Other countries have moved to no fault insurance where the companies sort it out between themselves.

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On 5/16/2020 at 8:20 AM, NEDogDad said:

The key to fully functional AV vehicles IMO is only partly in the vehicles. The rest is in the environment. The task of getting an AV working in a road environment designed and built for humans is a tough one, but with key additions of AV support built into the roads, the task is much easier. 

 

Or only operating in a small well known area such as local deliveries where the entire route can be mapped out and tested.  Also important is that commercial use like deliveries can just be shut down in case of really bad weather or road closures - not really feasible for personal transportation.

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On 5/12/2020 at 4:08 PM, akirby said:


These will be sold to other companies, not owned by Ford.

Looking at this through the lens of product liability, the responsible parties will be many. This includes who developed the software/AI, who developed the firmware, who did the safety validation, who sold it, and who was in responsible charge of it's operation. And this will vary from state to state.

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35 minutes ago, lfeg said:

Looking at this through the lens of product liability, the responsible parties will be many. This includes who developed the software/AI, who developed the firmware, who did the safety validation, who sold it, and who was in responsible charge of it's operation. And this will vary from state to state.


Agreed.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, lfeg said:

Looking at this through the lens of product liability, the responsible parties will be many. This includes who developed the software/AI, who developed the firmware, who did the safety validation, who sold it, and who was in responsible charge of it's operation. And this will vary from state to state.

 

Thank you lfeg sir. The state to state variations in liability laws, and with AV regulations in general, are a big roadblock to widespread deployment of AV technology. U.S. legislators both at the federal and state levels have discussed harmonization nationwide, but there's still a long way to  go.

Edited by rperez817

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