Campus news in brief

Valene Mezmin Feb 12, 2017

Artificial intelligence experts propose new regulations to be used on driverless cars

Two artificial intelligence experts argue that current safety regulations for driverless cars are ill-equipped to ensure that these vehicles will perform in a safe and reliable manner. Their solution is to have regulations be performed for these vehicles in phases similar to the drug approval process.

David Danks, the L.L. Thurstone Professor of Philosophy and Psychology and head of the Department of Philosophy, and Alex John London, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Ethics and Policy in Dietrich College, published their opinions in an article for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Intelligent Systems.

"Self-driving cars and autonomous systems are rapidly spreading through every part of society, but their successful use depends on whether we can trust and understand them," Danks said in a university press release. "We, as a society, need to find new ways to monitor and guide the development and implementation of these autonomous systems."

In order to understand how the vehicles will act in various situations, Danks and London propose that this regulatory process begin with testing the vehicle in simulated environments with different landscapes and climates. If successful, the system will be able to move on to being tested in real-world environments with a trained human driver. As performance goals are continuously met, the vehicles will not have as many restrictions.

"Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save lives and increase economic productivity. But these benefits won't be realized unless the public has credible assurance that such systems are safe and reliable," London said in the press release.

Experts argue that terrorism research should not be driven by political agendas

In an article published in Science Policy Forum, four experts from different fields propose that terrorism research should be theoretically informed and inclusive to all disciplines in line with policy-making. This proposal seeks to protect the academic research from political interference and protect policymakers from having simplistic academic accounts.

This strategy, proposed in an article titled "Challenges in Researching Terrorism From the Field," was written by Carnegie Mellon's own Baruch Fischhoff, a decision scientist, Scott Atran, an anthropologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, Robert Axelrod, a political scientist from the University of Michigan, and Richard Davis, a former White House policy adviser now at the University of Oxford. The authors believe that terrorism research would benefit from a national institutional review board which would ensure the ethical standing of the work and that science, not politics, guided its funding.

"Bridging theory and practice is always challenging, and particularly when diverse forms of expertise are needed, and the people who have it lack opportunities, and perhaps incentives, for collaboration," Fischhoff, the Howard Heinz University Professor in CMU’s Institute for Politics and Strategy and Department of Engineering and Public Policy, said in a university press release. "Research that overcomes these barriers is a hallmark of Carnegie Mellon and of the projects featured in our article. It is essential if the social sciences are to make their essential contributions to the fundamentally human problems that terrorism reflects and represents."