Your Oct. 27 Pre-Trip: Are autonomous vehicles programmed to kill?

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. The headline is hard to ignore. “Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill,” published by the MIT Technology Review, raises the safety issues that may come along with autonomous vehicles. The report urges automakers to consider the “ethical dilemma of algorithmic morality” before these types of vehicles become widespread. Questions raised include: “How should the car be programmed to act in the event of an unavoidable accident?” “Should it minimize the loss of life, even if it means sacrificing the occupants, or should it protect the occupants at all costs?” The Technology Review has more.

2. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) announced that he is “confident” Congress will pass a long-term highway bill after first approving a temporary patch, The Hill reports. The temporary measure, set late last week, would prevent a highway-funding shutdown on the Oct. 29 deadline and extend federal transportation spending until Nov. 20. The patch, he said, is “just a stopgap to give Congress additional time to finish working on a multiyear highway bill,” according to The Hill. The House approved a six-year, $325 billion bill Oct. 22, but lawmakers said they need more time to finish work on the bill.

3. Germany’s Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt is working with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to investigate Volkswagen AG’s rigging of emissions tests, Bloomberg Business reports. The two met Monday to discuss Germany’s probe of the scandal, and Dobrindt is scheduled to meet with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy as well. According to the report, VW agreed to an independent audit of its compliance with a law that requires the reporting of deaths and injuries involving its vehicles. Bloomberg has more.

4. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will be closed on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the New York City Marathon, The Trucker reports. The upper level of the bridge will also be closed on Saturday night beginning at 11 for marathon preparation.

5. Iowa’s transportation system is shrinking as state and county agencies are giving up on maintaining various rural roads and bridges, according to NBC News. Instead, the state is putting more money into “bigger, more essential projects in busier areas,” NBC reports. The move has made it so farmers have to drive miles out of their way to reach their fields, and rural communities complain they are being shortchanged in favor of big cities. Residents fear the move will hurt local farmers and county economies, as they are having trouble getting around because of road and bridge closures.

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