Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says that the decision on whether humans live or die will be left to artificial intelligence when self-driving cars become a reality.
Speaking at a forum hosted by the National Automobile Dealers Association, Buffett said that he thought self-driving cars wouldn’t be widely adopted for a long time but that when they were, moral considerations in traffic accidents could be taken out of human hands.
“There’s some interesting questions. I mean, let’s just say you have got a self-driving car and you are going down the street and a 3-year-old kid runs out in front of the car and there’s another car coming the other direction with four people in it and the computer is going to make the decision as to whether to hit the kid or hit the other car,” said Buffett.
“And I am not sure who gets sued under those circumstances, you’re going to kill somebody, and it will be the computer that makes the decision in a nanosecond and it will be interesting to know who programs that computer and what their thoughts are about the values of human lives and things,” he concluded.
During the forum, Buffett also noted how safer driving would be bad for his insurance business and that he “would not be holding a party” if that came to fruition.
The ethical conundrum of how a computer driven car would react in a situation where a traffic accident is unavoidable has been the subject of intense debate for years.
The arrival of self-driving cars, which some predict could be on the roads within 10 years, has also prompted questions as to the fate of conventional vehicles.
Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that in the future human-driven cars will be banned by authorities because they are “too dangerous”.
“You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine,” said Musk, before later clarifying that he wasn’t advocating the banning of human-driven cars, but that it could eventually happen.