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It all depends on your digital life value
Dateline: 30 October 2024
Last week's unfortunate multiple vehicle collision was unique in several respects. Not only was it the first time the OTTO beer truck was involved in a major collision, it was also the first 'test' of the Survivability Option System (SOS).
Put simply, SOS allows participating entities, when alerted to an impending collision, to bid in real time to increase their survivability. Naturally this all happens in nano-seconds, so it's driven by algorithmic parameters, not human thought processes.
This is how it works. Sensing an unavoidable collision (moose on the highway), the autonomous beer truck polls other affected parties (approaching Uber, pedestrian on sidewalk, overtaking vehicle). They immediately bid to be kept out of the mess. The beer truck then accepts the highest bid, and manoeuvres to limit damage to the winner.
Unfortunately, the winner of this first test was the beer company. The cargo being of substantial value, they outbid everyone else. The cargo was saved, but only at considerable expense to other people and vehicles, including the moose.
When it was first proposed, SOS was slated as unethical, and favoring the rich, but its advocates say it's only lending transparency and opportunity to participate in the process. Like any insurance scheme, you're better protected if you can afford better insurance! Wouldn't you rather have an opportunity to bid for your life, than be at the mercy of some black-box algorithm?
Now there's an uproar. "How can you value beer over human lives?" scream the activists for #AllLivesMatter. "This is fatcat capitalists killing poor people. It's murder!" Legal proceedings and counter-suits are inevitable.
Until the courts sort this out, you had better check your digital life value. You never know where the next beer truck and moose are going to meet head on!
Published 3 November 2016
Hazardous Thinking At Work
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ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
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Timothy Vieyra   a thought provoking dystopian scenario!
this certainly highlights the potentially fatal social flaw in capitalism. Left to its own devices, it will boil our entire existence down to a net value. If Adam Smith is to be believed, then the individual optimisation of this net value should mean the greatest public benefit. But not without social bounds. Inequality is the cancer of capitalism, and if not dealt with would mean its downfall. Interestingly enough, inequality in healthcare today brings about very similar outcomes to those highlighted in this scenario. de Toqueville's observation of American capitalism in the 19th century is apt:

American moralists do not hold that a man should sacrifice himself for his fellow man because it is a great thing to do; they boldly assert, rather, that such sacrifices are as necessary to the man who makes them as to the man who profits from them. ... They do not deny, therefore, that each man may pursue his own self-interest, but they do their utmost to prove that it is in every man's interest to behave honorably.

Posted: 23 November 2016 at 22:13 Delete Reply to this comment
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