I’ve done some hand wringing about robots, wondering about the degree to which they will change our world. Take self-driving cars, for example. Who is responsible if a self-driving car has an accident. The designer? The manufacturer? The automobile owner? Or, can we blame a hacker?
Insurance carriers have sleepless nights over how to write new language for their policies. In the past, companies wrote with the car owner in mind, says Robert Passmore, an executive with Property and Casual Insurance. Now companies write policies for the car. What to cover is a big question. (“A New Code of Conduct,” by Kristen Korosec, Fortune, may, 2018, pg. 22) One has to decide what data is relevant and what isn’t. What’s more, an adjuster will need to do more than look at a bent fender or review the breathalyzer test. He or she will have to know how to read a car’s computer.
So far, companies that insure self-driving cars have settled out of court. They want to avoid seeing new precedents set into law. The litigious tide can’t be held back forever, however. Inevitably, new chapters will appear in the law books.
The changes won’t stop with legal argument, however. European courts are experimenting with judicial robots. (Click) If they prove to be useful, their presence may pose new ethical questions. Can a robot judge remain impartial when a robot car is the defendant?