How Relying on Algorithms and Bots Can Be Really, Really Dangerous
So you canâ€™t wait for a self-driving car to take away the drudgery of driving? Me neither! But consider this scenario, recently posed by neuroscientist Gary Marcus: Your car is on a narrow bridge when a school bus veers into your lane. Should your self-driving car plunge off the bridgeâ€”sacrificing your life to save those of the children?
Obviously, you wonâ€™t make the call. Youâ€™ve ceded that decision to the carâ€™s algorithms. You better hope that you agree with its choice.
This is a dramatic dilemma, to be sure. But itâ€™s not a completely unusual one. The truth is, our tools increasingly guide and shape our behavior or even make decisions on our behalf. A small but growing chorus of writers and scholars think weâ€™re going too far. By taking human decisionmaking out of the equation, weâ€™re slowly stripping away deliberationâ€”moments where we reflect on the morality of our actions.