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Should computers be allowed to take over driving decisions?

Whether you are ready or not, driverless vehicles may be a reality in Alabama within two to five years. Many companies are test driving them in several states, and elsewhere in the world, as well. The Atlantic reports that while automakers and programmers are promising these cars will reduce motor vehicle accidents, there are still some tough questions that remain unanswered.

You may have had your bank account hacked, or contracted a computer virus that wiped out your hard drive. But what happens if someone does that to your vehicle? From kidnapping to putting everyone on the road in danger, hijackers and hackers may be able to cause harm to a wide range of people from a distant location.

When you get behind the wheel, you understand that there could be some situations where you have to make a snap judgment between two outcomes that are not favorable. For example, a pedestrian might step out into traffic, forcing you to choose a collision with a person or with other vehicles, putting other lives at risk. A computer may not be able to assess all the factors, both practically and ethically, in the moment or two available for a reaction.

If the computer makes the wrong decision while you are in the vehicle, you may believe the programmer or manufacturer should be at fault. However, these liability issues have not yet been addressed by the legal system, and could cause significant problems for owners. While this information is provided to help you gain an understanding of vehicle technology dilemmas, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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