Long before a car came anywhere close to driving itself, ethicists were debating variations of the thought experiment known as “the trolley problem.” A streetcar is barreling toward three people tied to the tracks. Do nothing and they all die. Pull a level and the streetcar switches tracks — killing somebody else. Do you pull the lever? What if the other person is elderly? A schoolchild?
The dilemma and its variants are often cited as the type of problems artificial intelligence will have to grapple with as it becomes ever more prevalent in our lives. Driverless cars, for example, will have split seconds to make exactly those types of decisions.
In this special report on the future of artificial intelligence, we explore the technology’s implications. Are people ready to trust their lives to driverless cars? What about an AI doctor? Who’s to blame when price-setting algorithms work together to collude?
We also spoke to Armin Grunwald, an adviser to the German parliament tasked with mapping out the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. Grunwald, it turns out, has an answer to the trolley problem.
This article is part of the special report Confronting the Future of AI.
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A job application filled out by former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, hs just been sold at auction for $174,757 (£125,728). The questionnaire, completed by then-18-year-old Jobs in 1973, was snapped up by an anonymous London internet entrepreneur. The man that would go on to revolutionise the tech industry with his co-founding of Apple signed the application "Steven jobs" [sic] and said his special abilities included "electronics, tech or design engineer". Read more: Apple HomePod smart speaker review: A hell of a speaker controlled by a mildly disappointing assistant Steve Jobs' application sold for $174,757 Under interests, he wrote: "digital – from Bay near Hewitt-Packard" [sic]. Jobs scrawled "yes" next to computer and calculator skills, adding "design tech". According to the form, he had a driver's license but and stated his access to transportation as "possible, but not probable". Jobs gave his address on the application as Reed College, where he had begun studying English literature in 1972 but dropped out to preserve his parents' meagre amount of money. He hung around campus for a year and a half after quitting to audit creative courses, including classes on Shakespeare, dance, and calligraphy. Later, in 1974, Jobs secured a job as a technician at Atari, heavily relying on the help of Steve Wozniak who would become the other Apple co-founder. Other Steve Jobs highlights from the Pop Culture sale by PR Auction, which began on 8 March and concluded yesterday, include a signed Apple Mac OS X technical manual which sold for $41,806, and a signed 2008 newspaper clipping which went for $26,950. Jobs died at the age of 56 after a fight with cancer. Read more: Dialog Semiconductor says Apple supply deal in place until at least 2020 Original Article [contf] [contfnew] CityAM [contfnewc] [contfnewc]
New version! New characters! New content and packaging! AUSTIN, Texas—Sega hosted a South By Southwest 2018 panel about all things Sonic the Hedgehog, and the panel began with good news for anyone wanting a physical version of last year's tremendous 2D throwback, Sonic Mania. Their wishes will be granted in the form of Sonic Mania Plus, a physical release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch in "summer 2018" for $29.99. Shortly after that announcement, Sega also offered a surprise "one more thing" about an apparent new Sonic racing game. The panel noted that Mania's positive reception was tempered by one consistent complaint: that fans wanted a disc or cartridge version. So Sega moved forward with a boxed version of the game, and while its boxed version has its own physical perks (32-page art book, "holographic" cover, reversible Genesis-styled cover), the more interesting stuff comes in the form of new gameplay features. The most obvious of those are two classic-series creatures, Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel, being added as playable heroes. (These characters originated in the series' first Japan-exclusive arcade game, 1993's SegaSonic the Hedgehog.) Sega didn't confirm how differently those characters will control or whether existing levels will be opened up or changed for any unique mechanics. Additional content, which was only briefly teased at SXSW, will include a new "encore" mode of remixed stages and a new version of the original's "competition mode" that will let up to four players race side by side. How exactly those remixed stages will play out was not demonstrated. Sega confirmed that owners of the game's original digital version can pay for an unlock of the Plus content, though the company was not ready to confirm a price. Sadly, the game's PC version was not included in the Plus version's announcement banner. We have sent questions to Sega about that version's potential and will update this report with any news. Sega's SXSW panel ended with this tease, which contains the apparent word "racing," along with an assurance that this game is not a "sequel" to any existing Sonic series. The panel's "one more thing" announcement came in the form of the above image, which started out entirely black and exploded with a single letter "R" by the end. This followed a number of car headlight images and engine revving sounds, so the fact that the word looks like it spells "racing" is no surprise. The panel confirmed that this game is "not a sequel" to any existing Sonic series but said nothing more. This follows months of rumors about a followup to Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, which has been loudly hinted at by way of various toy companies announcing products that tie into a Sonic racing game of some sort. The panelists offered one other hint when a fan asked about further classic Sonic game ports to mobile platforms like iOS. "We've stolen Christian Whitehead away," one panelist said in response, referring to the Sonic Mania developer who previously built Sega's best existing iOS Sonic ports. This is as loud a hint as we've yet heard that another official, retro-styled Sonic game may be in the works at Sega. Listing image by Sega Original Article [contf] [contfnew] Ars Technica [contfnewc] [contfnewc]
Enlarge/ Tehran, the capital city of Iran.A.Davey via Creative Commons Yesterday, users in Iran lost access to Apple's App Store. When users attempted to connect or download apps, they received a message saying that the App Store was "unavailable in the country or region" in which they resided. The cessation of services began around noon GMT yesterday, and services resumed around 5:00am GMT this morning, according to social media posts and sources who spoke with Bleeping Computer. A virtual private network (VPN) could still reach the App Store normally. Media coverage and social media posts were quick to speculate that the store's downtime was an Apple-imposed ban driven by US economic sanctions against Iran, as Apple is based in the US. However, we are not yet aware of evidence to support this. An accidental outage is also possible, as is a block imposed by Iran's government—Iran has previously blocked the Google Play store, though that block was later lifted. Apple has not responded to our requests for clarification. Because of US sanctions, Apple has no formal presence or operation in Iran, and its App Store is not officially supported there. The company does not sell phones there, nor does it work with any vendors that do. It nevertheless had an 11-percent market share in the country as of last year, as Iranians have purchased millions of iPhones smuggled in from other countries. Iranian app developers have published apps to the App Store for use by Iranian iPhone owners. US President Barack Obama's administration issued a license that allowed app stores to operate in Iran (it was not permitted previously). The license was framed as a way to win hearts and minds by allowing the free flow of information. In August 2017, The New York Times reported that Apple removed from its store many apps created by Iranian developers to provide services in Iran, including popular Uber-like ridesharing app Snapp and Seamless-like food delivery app DelionFoods, both of which were popular in the country. Iranian developers claimed that Apple issued the following statement to them at that time: We are unable to include your app, [App Name], on the App Store. Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries. This area of law is complex and constantly changing. If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store. These app removals were part of an ongoing effort at Apple to remove apps "which facilitate transactions for businesses or entities based in Iran," according to Techrasa. The license issued by the Obama administration did not extend to helping developers in this case. Google is also a US-based company, and it is subject to the same restrictions as Apple. The Google Play Store for Android devices is officially available in Iran, but Google policy limits which kinds of app downloads are available; only free apps can be downloaded in Iran, as paid apps would violate the sanctions. Google also removed Iranian apps from the Google Play Store last fall. Original Article [contf] [contfnew] Ars Technica [contfnewc] [contfnewc]
EnlargeMarvel Studios Marvel Studios is on quite the roll. Black Panther has already grossed over a billion dollars and doesn't look like it's done making money, and the studio's accountants must be rubbing their hands with glee as thoughts turn to the next tentpole release, Avengers: Infinity War. That movie opens on April 27, and on Friday, Marvel dropped a new trailer on us: [embedded content] Since many readers might not be able to watch the trailer at work, I've pulled some images into the following gallery. You'll need to provide your own stirring Avengers theme music by humming along, and it goes without saying that you shouldn't look at it if you're at all sensitive to spoilers. Really, I mean it; if you look at those pictures, you've got nothing to complain about other than your own lack of self-control! The trailer opens with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and War Machine (Don Cheadle) standing on what looks to be the helicopter pad at Stark Tower. [Start humming theme now.] Marvel Studios Uh-oh! Something big and round and definitely evil-looking has materialized above Manhattan. You can see Ars' parent company offices in the foreground. Right about now, I'm glad I work remotely from Washington, DC; John Timmer, Jeff Dunn, and Peter Bright might be in trouble, as they aren't too far away. Marvel Studios This is Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). You probably knew that already since the entire world has seen his movie, more than once judging by the box office take. And why not? It was a damn good film. PS: His suit is made from vibranium. Marvel Studios This is Thanos (Josh Brolin). He's from outer space, he's purple, and he's basically unstoppable even before he has all the infinity stones (those glowing macguffins that we saw in lots of previous Marvel movies). How the gang is going to prevent him from wrecking the world is beyond me! Marvel Studios Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) might have a plan? It involves this suit. Will it work? We won't know until April 27th!! [Keep humming theme tune] Marvel Studios Starlord (Chris Pratt) and Iron Man discuss the plan, or lack of plan. [If you're still humming, start working up to a crescendo about now.] Marvel Studios Oooh, dramatic tension! Someone is poking Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his face! With needles! (These needles are almost certainly metal and not plastic. +15 Ars points if you get the reference.) Marvel Studios Original Article [contf] [contfnew] Ars Technica [contfnewc] [contfnewc]