Cruise control and alcohol…

In a new comment, Ernst Lopez Cordozo book-ends our “transducer versus delegation” discussion with a spectacular real-life example.

I had been trying to tease apart the distinction between a transducer and an agent to which we have delegated, arguing that we need both classes of component in computerized systems.  Using the “gas pedal” as an example, I wrote:

I’m certain that Ernst would not argue that we “delegate” control of acceleration to the foot pedal in our car – the “foot-pedal-associated-components” constitute the transducer that conveys our intentions to engine control systems.

Ernst's response puts the whole discussion into stark relief:

I agree with your analysis. And yes, it is difficult.

Ten years ago the car of a well known Dutch opera singer caused a fatal accident while driving on the parking deck of the Amsterdam Arena. The singer, who was behind the wheel, successfully claimed that the accident was caused by his car’s cruise control, rather than his consumption of alcohol that night.  I don’t make this up.  Reality dovetails nicely with your examples.

Whether we use an innocent transducer or a possibly disobedient agent determines the deniability of the resulting actions.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

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