Ethical aspects of autonomous vehicles

During a panel discussion about the ethical aspects of autonomous vehicles, “Autonomous Vehicles: The Road to the Driverless Car,”Altera said this at the headquarter in San Jose.
Because there are no real drivers operating the car, it is not clear to say who is supposed to be responsible for the car accidents, if unavoidable.
It is interesting to note that two decades ago, there were discussions about whether to build smart roads to guide vehicles, however governments were not willing to invest in such infrastructure construction. However, currently the issue is shifted to vehicles itself. It is still challenging to let systems guide themselves. Image sensors and radars are common ways to solve this problem, whereas, they are easily interfered with environment, for instance their speed to response and their sensitivity to low-light conditions.
As known, Google is engaged in this field as well, so there have been lots of discussions on this done by Google. Apart from the question on who to blame when car crashes, there are still problems which are given below:
1. Unemployment.
Considering there are still lots of people making livings by driving, the impact brought by autonomous vehicles can be huge.
2. Conformity to laws
Do autonomous vehicles conform to local laws and international laws? What changes need to be made to current laws?
3. Trolley problem
The choice about killing pedestrians or killing the car itself.
An interesting video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs0E69krO_Q
Though still a lot discussions on ethics, the technical progress is still being highly valued due to potential benefits.
References:
http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20131015VL202.html
http://googlesautonomousvehicle.weebly.com/ethics.html

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2 Comments

by | October 27, 2013 · 9:33 am

2 responses to “Ethical aspects of autonomous vehicles

  1. belisjeroen

    I find this topic, ethically speaking, very interesting!

    I was amazed by the high number of casualties during traffic you posted earlier and I think the blog is very organised and clear.

    Though for me the fundamental question remains:
    If you could reduce the number of daily accidents by 50%, would you find this ethically?

    This would mean that every 2 minutes 1 person would die. The difference with non-autonomous cars is that these people would die randomly. They don’t have control over their own safety.
    Nowadays people can, most of the times, greatly reduce their chances of an accident by driving carefully. With autonomous cars you have no control at all.

    Do you agree?

    • I do agree with your idea that chances of getting injured are greatly reduced while driving carefully, however, there are still drunk drivings which pose great threats to pedestrians and other drivers. If autonomous cars could be widely and correctly used, the number of causalities caused by careless drivings could be greatly reduced and people could feel free to drink as well. ^_^

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