Friday, January 10, 2014

Don't Let the Need to Blame Prevent Safety Improvements

Reaction to - Motor Mouth: Who’s liable when a self-driving car crashes?

While I agree we need to come up with an answer within the context of our legal system, I really see the bigger problem as the false responsibility claims our legal system encourages.

Many times there are negative results that should not result in wasteful legal proceedings but our system is so focused on pining the blame on someone to write a check that it accepts blaming x person because there isn't anyone else to blame. Often that is a bad outcome. I would welcome us examining the assumptions about everything needing to be blamed on specific parties.

I do agree there is a benefit to accessing pentalites to culpable parties. I think our current system needs to accept that complex systems often have bad results that should not be handled the way we do now. The whole issue is very complex but I think there is a need for much better decisions about blame being made in our legal system. It requires much more understanding of science, engineering, statistics etc.. And less overly simplistic blaming based on over simplified models.

My father was a professor of statistics/industrial engineering/chemical engineering and worked some trying to get a better understanding of cause and effect into the legal system decades ago, for example: Statistics, Science, Law and the Environment (The American Statistician, 1983). I think we need to do much better in this area.

Another question this raises is if 20,000 lives a year could be saved by self-driving cars and people didn't use that safety advantage are they liable for choosing a dangerous option (person driven car) even if they were not specifically negligent as far as the facts of the specific case are concerned. If we know drunk driving is more dangerous we pass laws and you can't drive drunk. Even without any proof your actions were at fault your state of being drunk makes you liable. Well, if drive less cars are much safer what is the difference, logically (I realize given the current laws there is a legal difference)?

Related: Blame the Road, Not the Driver - Separated Bike Lanes Reduced Injuries by 45% and Increased Retail Sales 49% (for nearby stores) - TPP Transparency Confirms the Worst: USA Government Still Trying to Strip Away Rights of Citizens in USA and Elsewhere - Traffic Congestion and a Non-Solution - System Improvement to Respond to the Dynamics of Crowd Disasters

Article looks at insurance companies reaction and predicts insurance rates could decline 60% with improved safety of autonomous cars.

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