Self-Driving Cars: Are They Ethical?

 In News, Travel

An ethics debate has sparked around new driverless technology and has some people concerned about the long-term safety issues of the autonomous vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Transportation released its first handbook of rules on autonomous vehicles in September 2016, and has raised concerns that autonomous cars might be dominating our roads sooner than we think, but at a price.

Letting algorithms take the wheel have some people on full tilt:

“Everyone is saying how driverless cars will take the problematic human out of the equation,” said Taylor, a professor of philosophy at Stanford University. “But we think of humans as moral decision-makers. Can artificial intelligence actually replace our capacities as moral agents?” said Taylor.

While many people are raising questions like, will self-driving cars optimize for overall human welfare, or will the algorithms prioritize passenger safety or those on the road? Others are looking at the tradeoffs inherent in safety and mobility.

Besides the ethical questions raised, the loss of millions of jobs are also a very real threat:

“You can’t outsource driving,” Taylor said. “Technology has always destroyed jobs but created other jobs. But with the current technology revolution, things may look differently.”

Being prepared for millions of employed people to lose their jobs within the private and public transportation industry is something that society is ethically responsible for.

If society plans to move forward with allowing driverless cars to drive on the road transparency will have to play a major role to inform public debate.

“The idea is to address the concerns upfront, designing good technology that fits into people’s social worlds,” said Jason Millar, an engineer and postdoctoral research fellow with the Center of Ethics in Society.

Whether or not you agree with the ethics of self-driving cars, the technology is moving forward, and at a rapid pace.

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