Principal-Agent Problem

A Florida woman was recently reported to the authorities for a hit-and-run. The twist is that it was her own car that reported her.

The Ford car was outfitted with a program to automatically dial police in the event of an accident (the driver’s airbag deployed).

While this story has some bizarre twists to it — the driver committed the hit-and-run while fleeing a different, earlier accident — it’s representative of the world to come.

We’re used to thinking of computers as dumb machines that do what we want them to do. They’re turning into smarter machines that do what somebody else programmed them to do.

Generally speaking, that’s a good thing, but we’ll increasingly notice these kinds of principal-agent problems.

Originally published at on December 10, 2015.

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