Will robots cause ‘catastrophic’ problems?

Will robots cause ‘catastrophic’ problems?

Failure to regulate artificial intelligence will result in catastrophic social and ethical problems, the Transport Workers’ Union is warning.

Widespread loss of jobs, wage polarisation and horrific road incidents, where machines are allowed to decide who dies in a crash, could unfold if the current unwillingness to consult and regulate continues.

“Economics is driving the push for artificial intelligence, not voters and not the community. There is no input into the introduction of this technology onto our roads and into our homes which is taking ethical or social issues into account. We need a debate on this issue and we need regulation,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.

Almost 40% of Australian jobs – 5 million jobs – will be redundant in 10 to 15 years, according to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia showed. A German study* recently warned about the possibility of wage polarisation due to automation eliminating middle-skilled jobs.

Meanwhile, there is concern over the programming of driverless technology to make ethical decisions. The German government has developed ethical guidelines which state that driverless cars must be programmed to avoid injury or death of people at all cost. The Singapore government is developing a voluntary governance code for the ethical use of artificial intelligence and personal data.

“Do we want a machine deciding to save the occupant of a car by ploughing into a crowd of people? Should a computer be programmed to crash into an elderly by-stander on a pavement or kill the child who has just run out onto the road? These are the issues other countries are examining and dealing with. In Australia we cannot allow wealthy companies to decide these issues for us,” Sheldon added.

Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have made it possible for autonomous vehicles to be tested on their roads. But a recent poll shows scepticism among the public: Australians were less optimistic than average about using driverless technology, according to an Ipsos survey of 28 countries. One in six Australians say they would never use a driverless car.

* Germany – Re-imagining Work White Paper, 2017

 

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