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Webinar | Imaginary Trolleys, Real People and True Safety Design for Autonomous Vehicles by Sam Anthony, co-founder and CTO, Perceptive Automata

Society on Social Implications of Technology

Santa Clara Valley SSIT Chapter and UK and Ireland SSIT Chapter are cooperating to deliver this joint Chapter webinar. All IEEE and SSIT Members are invited to register and participate.


Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to transform not just the technology but the sociology of our roads. The public has been captivated by the question of how these vehicles will solve ethical dilemmas. One broad school of effort uses “trolley problems” — thought experiments where an AV must choose who to hurt — as a method for thinking about how AVs should behave. But in the real world, are trolley problems the right way to think about safety? Or are they simultaneously too pessimistic and too optimistic, vastly underestimating the risk of certain failure modes while focusing attention on overwhelmingly unlikely and avoidable failures? I argue the latter, and present a framework for thinking in a practical, deployment oriented way about how AVs should behave around humans.

Speaker: Sam Anthony, co-founder and CTO, Perceptive Automata

Sam Anthony is a co-founder and CTO of Perceptive Automata. Sam developed the methods that underlie Perceptive Automata’s ground-breaking human understanding technology during his PhD work at the Vision Science Laboratory at Harvard University. In the course of Sam’s research he discovered a new approach to the design and training of machine learning algorithms which leverages the techniques of behavioural science to solve previously unsolvable problems in machine intelligence. Before beginning his Ph.D program Sam worked for ten years leading software engineering teams in Boston and Silicon Valley. With Perceptive Automata, he is combining his field-leading research with his industry experience to solve problems that are vital to the success of automated vehicles.

Sam holds a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a specialisation in Computation from the University of California San Diego and a PhD. in Cognition, Brain, and Behaviour from Harvard University.

Registration: Please register to participate by 14 September

The link to participate in this SSIT Joint Chapter Webinar will be provided to those who register prior to the meeting.

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