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Discussing the Ethics of Driverless Cars

Published on May 21st, 2016

This morning we got into a discussion about the complexity of designing ethical driverless cars that meet social expectations. That’s a hard subject to articulate. Mostly because there isn’t just one ethical framework; but also because there is probably no way to produce an ethical car that passengers would step inside for a journey. We can’t even produce a safe car. Imagine if the car could insist, for the greater good, that you die.

When I see discussion about the design of an ethical driverless car the question, at least for me, becomes “Which ethical framework are we talking about?” Utiliarianism? Kant’s Categorical Imperative? Ethical Rights analysis? There is no hard and fast ethical regimen that would hold true in all cases.

In Utilitarian analysis, for the greater good, the car might be designed to sacrifice one driver so the family of five in another car survives. But what if the other car was at fault? Is it ethical to sacrifice the single driver so an oncoming carload who made an error would be spared? Do we count five lives against the one life; or, do we count each life as being of equal value to the individuals involved? Are younger lives more valuable than older lives? Would your gender, weight, health, criminal record or race be taken into account? Who makes that judgement? In the real World the Utilitarian perspective is a very cold calculation.

And if we run with Kant’s Categorical Imperative then the maxim might be something like: “All cars will kill all drivers all the time.” Or, “No cars will kill any drivers any of the time.” I’d take a punt that the second is the maxim that makes sense. Ethical driverless cars should never kill drivers.

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Prisons are full of Naughty People

Published on April 18th, 2016

The go-to political and media punching bag has long been our prison system. Escapes have a certain glamour. Crime is rating high on the Idiot Box. There are people in prison extorting, getting drunk, corrupting guards, raping, bashing and stealing. Riots. Hunger strikes. You name it, the prison system is a microcosm of the outside World without that ethical signature we think of as civilisation.

That’s the real trouble with all these stories. The latest article about Risdon Prison this last week was the shock horror front page revelation that prisoners are using an illicit mobile phone network within the prison to send out selfies that other people post on Facebook pages in the prisoners’ names.

Oh, for fuck sake. The headline should have simply read “Breaking News: Prisons are full of Naughty People”.

Considering the Australian prison system houses over 30,000 inmates and releases 50,000 inmates a year back into society; considering those inmates have friends and family that visited them (or forgot to visit); and considering this country has 24 million residents, of which only half a million live in Tasmania – it’s probably not much news to anybody that Tasmania’s prisoners use illicit mobile phones.

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Starting on Next Year’s Scrumpy

Published on April 1st, 2016

The simplest to make of all alcoholic drinks has to be the humble (and often underrated) naturally fermented hard cider called scrumpy. And it’s that time of the year to start on our scrumpy production.

Making scrumpy is as easy as purchasing fresh apple juice without preservatives:

  1. Pour the fresh apple juice into a sanitised fermenter,
  2. whack on an airlock to keep out the yeasties and bugs, and
  3. watch that fermentation go crazy, eventually slow and then stop.

This process should take around six months. Some people advocate that you should siphon the cider off any dead yeast every month-or-so, but it’s fine to leave it alone until all fermentation has completed. The final product should be a dry cider with a reasonably high alcohol content.

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More Articles on StevenClark.com.au

  1. Prisons are full of Naughty People
  2. Starting on Next Year’s Scrumpy
  3. Our Australian Faux-Mamajuana is Lovely
  4. Post-Diversity & Missing the Diversity Dividend
  5. Scrumpy with Post-Fermentation Loomi Addition

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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