It is strange to see some people question who would be responsible if an AI came to make a decision that would result in disaster. As it seems that AI is not yet recognized as a sentient being in full possession of cognitive capacities, this responsibility falls onto the owner of the AI software. Many countries already have laws defining what this kind of responsibility and ownership entails. But the real question is : do we really want an AI to be recognized as fully autonomous ? AI is still at a too early stage of its development for this question to get a definitive answer right now : current AIs can be considered simplistic, as what the human brain can do in comparison is still leaps and bounds ahead of them. We’re simply not there yet in terms of technology and engineering capabilities. This being said, we still need to start considering what this responsibility really means, as several companies have now started building autonomous cars. These cars raise many ethical and civil concerns, as they have to operate in the same environment as us, humans. This takes us back to the aforementioned points.
One possible solution would be to have a separate environment for autonomous cars, similar to what we already do by prohibiting pedestrians and cars which cannot reach a minimum speed of highways. It is possible to have roads for autonomous cars only, but a government would wait for the majority of its population to use autonomous cars before implementing such a project. If an autonomous car enters the highway, then the AI takes over the driving, shifting from intelligent cars to intelligent roads. Off these intelligent roads, the driving, even if facilitated by driving assistance, would be entirely manual.
This seems like a good system, as AIs currently lacks the cognitive abilities to operate in the same environment as humans. Legal concerns would also be lessened as these environments would be as strict and controlled as rail or air traffic.
It should now be clear that the issues raised by AI are not only technical, and many field actors with very different profiles must work together to design the best solutions.
From this perspective, it would only seem the next logical step that elected government officials start thinking as project managers, as aggregators of skills, in order to design tomorrow’s society with civilians and engineers.