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!