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Automation, Uber, & Uh-oh’s: Who’s Responsible?!

Driverless Cars, Accidents, & You:
Who Gets Sued?!

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(Pictured: You see kids, when two self-driving vehicles fall in love they make robot-babies…. and those robot-babies grow up to become our FUTURE ROBOT OVERLORDS. But hey, Tesla cars are cool!)

When someone breaks a law, they generally get in trouble – that’s just the way the world work. Systems of law have been managing the conduct of nations and their citizens as long as civilizations have been in place.  With the technology renaissance of the 21st century, a new form of life has been participating in society, and just like humans some of them have begun to break laws.  We are talking about – of course – robots.

In 2015, a self-driving car created by Google was operating in the area around the company’s headquarters.  The driverless vehicle had been on a road near ‘the company campus’ when it ended up getting pulled over – for going 10 miles an hour below the speed limit!  Basically, it had been violating traffic laws by holding up traffic without a good reason.

News outlets report that the officer after discovering that there was no one driving the car, contacted the operators responsible for programming the vehicle. The article also reports that several cars in the Google self-driving fleet have been in accidents, although none of them have been reported to be the self-driving car’s fault.  The incident comes on the heels of many people questioning the safety of self-driving vehicles.

For many years now, electric car manufacturer Tesla has touted its self-driving initiative and how much safer it is than actually driving.  Tesla’s critics are still skeptical of the company’s self-driving vehicles’ capacity to be safe at all, pointing to a National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) investigation of a 2018 fatal accident that involved a self-driving Tesla.  In that incident, the car’s driver life being lost (instead of steering the car, the ‘driver’ had handed control over to the vehicle’s self-driving computer when the accident took place). The NTSB  report found that the Tesla vehicle had actually acted in a way meant to try the driver, however the vehicle still ended up crashing.   Many skeptics of self-driving vehicles point to that crash in particular as a reason that driverless cars and trucks should not be allowed on the roadways.

Instances like the fatal Tesla crash and the slow self-driving  Google car provide examples of a significant issue that goes beyond just general safety – one that will become more relevant as technology continues to evolve:

So, when a robot or AI commits a crime that puts humans or other lives in danger, who is responsible in a legal sense?

Technology has and will continue to develop at a rate that the law can’t keep up with. If there are robots used to make work easier in a factory for example, who is responsible if a ‘thinking’ machine harms a human worker in a workplace accident –  the programmer, the actual ‘code’ of the machine, the company, or someone (or something) else entirely?  As companies, manufacturers, and even governments are beginning to make the push for automated processes like self-driving vehicles that include the use of Robots, AI, and other ‘driverless’ technologies, we will all begin to be faced with these questions.

Questions:

1: Who should be held civilly and/or criminally accountable when a robot is involved in  crime?  Explain your choice(s)

2: What laws should be put in place to ensure that the right entities (people / companies / robots) are held accountable for Artificial Intelligence related problems, and how will they help prevent or address those problems?

3: What are some things that a robot could do to break a law? 

4: Should a person who built a robot that commits a crime, be charged to the same level as contributing to the crime or aiding in it? Explain why you think they should or should not.

Be sure to explain the thinking behind your answers, and for more details, you can read the articles this piece was sourced from here: 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/13/google-self-driving-car-pulled-over-driving-too-slowly

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradtempleton/2020/02/13/ntsb-releases-report-on-2018-fatal-silicon-valley-tesla-autopilot-crash/#395bd32842a8

Contributed By: Joseph Motta

Beer + Bulletproof Vests =
The New ‘Drinking & Driving’ ?!?

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Being a responsible gun owner involves a lot of care and the ability to make good decisions.  Clearly, shooting your friend while they are wearing a bullet proof vest would not be an example of either of those behaviors.  Despite that, two fifty-year old men in Arkansas found themselves facing criminal charges of unlawful discharge of a firearm in that exact situation.  Here’s what happened:

Around April 2018, Charles Eugene Ferris, 50, and Christopher Hicks, 36 had a terrible idea (they were drunk, so they thought it was a GREAT idea….as you can tell from the headline, they were wrong).   While intoxicated both men began to take turns with a .22 caliber rifle. Ferris was shot once in the chest and was left with a large red mark. Ferris then proceeded to unload a clip into Hicks’ back in retaliation.

The men arrived at the hospital after Ferris complained of chest pain. After learning that it was a result of a gunshot wound, the police were called to take a statement.

Reports explained that while this story is already bizarre, it gets much weirder. The two men came up with an elaborate story to try and cover up their drunken adventures, telling the police they were bodyguards that had been hired to protect a client.  While it is unclear which of the two men said it, according to the police report one of them claimed to have followed ‘the client’ into a forest, and that the client was then shot at.  According to their story, the shooting was what led to Ferris having six bruises in the back from gunshots.

Police actually believed the story at first, but then Ferris’ wife showed up to the hospital and told the authorities what actually happened.

After learning the truth about the requested shooting, the man admitted he had made the story up to protect his friend who had originally shot him.

Stories like this always have the potential to turn out much worse than they already do. There are a number of different factors that could have ended up taking one of the men’s lives or even worse, the lives of others around them that had nothing to do with the act of shooting your friend for fun.

All it takes for a situation like this to turn from minor injuries to a deadly consequence is a poor aim, a faulty bullet-proof vest, or a bystander walking by at the wrong time. These are a few of the reason’s laws are made to protect lives. Both of the men are responsible for their actions, as well of what their actions could have turned into had something gone terribly wrong.

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Questions:

1: Is an activity like this protected by the Second Amendment? Why or Why not?

2: Could the men be exercising their lawful gun rights but ALSO charged w/ some kind of   charges about endangering the public? How, or why not?

3: If this happened in Nevada, how many years in jail, how much money fined, and what other consequences would these men face after an action like this?

4. Imagine one of the men had died as a result of this incident, then list 3 criminal charges they would face if the incident happened in Nevada. Then, list the maximum amount of penalties that defendant would be faced with if they were to face those charges. Finally, imagine instead of the bullet hitting one of the men as willing participants, imagine if the bullet hit a random passer-by.  Explain if the charges faced by the shooter would be the same or different, and why that would be the case.

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.5newsonline.com/article/news/local/outreach/back-to-school/police-rogers-men-shoot-each-other-while-wearing-bulletproof-vest/527-e6176adb-820c-41d4-9783-5c160cacbc53

 


Contributed By:  – J. Motta

Shh…
The Apps Are Listening!

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Are your mobile phone’s apps listening to you?  You might not think so, and yet a recent article on Wired.com reports that there’s a good chance your phone is listening to you right now as your read this article

Disclaimer: If you are reading this in Project REAL’s App, rest assured we are not listening to you, and encourage you to check our app’s permission settings in your phone if you would like verification.

According to the article, a large amount of the most downloaded apps in the iTunes, Google Play, and Windows Apps stores require users to grant them permission to access a phone’ s microphone.  This permission is then used by the app to listen for ‘ultrasonic beacons’ – sounds the human ear can’t detect that trigger a reaction in the app.  If you’re familiar with Shazam, imagine if you were home listening to music while doing your homework and you opened the app to find it had not only recorded every song that played while you listened, but ordered those songs from an online music store!

To some this revelation is concerning, though to others it just doesn’t matter.  Perhaps you don’t mind if a McDonalds app hears an ultrasonic frequency that lets it know you skipped school to catch a matinee of the new movie you’ve been dying to see.  Perhaps they’ll use that information to decide to partner with the film’s producers if there’s a sequel.  What if you have an app from your workplace on your phone and it tells your employers you were at a movie on a day you called in sick?  Suddenly, the thought of your phone listening for ultrasonic beacons without your consent each time becomes rather frightening, doesn’t it?

 

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Questions:

1) Why should there be or not be laws preventing these techniques? 

2) Why Should consumers have a right or not have a right to be notified every time an app wishes to listen for beacons? 

3) Why should there be or not be time limits (where an app can only listen for so much time after each authorization to do so)?  

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here::

https://www.wired.com/2017/05/hundreds-apps-can-listen-beacons-cant-hear/




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2020-12-16T22:04:09+00:00
Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you -Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

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My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity. - Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]

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Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time. - Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]
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