Autonomous Mercedes Car

Autonomous Car, Is It A Blessing Or Curse?

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In a future of fully autonomous vehicles, a controlled environment where all the major traffic is maintained by Artificial Intelligence (AI), a lot of people’s life will be made simpler and safer. How true is it? Currently autonomous vehicles are being researched by car manufacturers as well as programmers like Tesla which have researched up to 5 levels of autonomous. Level 5 being a fully automated car with AI controlling all the decisions made by the vehicle such as steering as well as lane switching, as well as simple AI aid from earlier levels 1, 2, and 3 which are lane assistance, cruise control, and self-parking.

Advantages of Autonomous Cars

The advantage of autonomous vehicle that relate to moral analysis is human safety and welfare. AI calculation is a step up in contrast to human. The most prevalent difference of the two is the human aspect where humans can always make mistake while AI stick to its programming. This bring forth the issue of human error.

Human error is one of major cause road accident and human error contributes to more than 90% of this statistic. Human error includes distraction during driving, drunk driving, speeding, and lack of sleep. In the sense of distraction on the road, a lot of drivers tend to lose their focus due to the infotainment system installed in cars such as songs, video and movie or even the navigation system included in the vehicle. Drunk driving leads to slow reflection response causing the driver to have difficulty in analysing the situation and can lead to drowsiness while driving. Speeding kills, why? We have less control of the car and our analytical skill will diminish due to having less time for decision making.

Human error Distraction Drunk Seatbelt Speeding Drowsy Total
Death 2477 10497 13941 10111 846 37872

Table 1. Number of fatalities caused by human error from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Based on table above, future autonomous vehicle can save 37872 lives from traffic accidents, caused by human error. We mentioned the AI fully control the traffic and the vehicle. With the principal of utility, we take full advantage of the AI intervention to eliminate human error. This also agrees to the Kant theory where all rules and regulations of road traffic will be fully followed by car users as these have been programmed into AI.

Autonomous Mercedes CarCurrently, there are an estimated 1.9 million licensed disabled drivers in the UK, and around 400,000 adapted vehicles in the UK. With a level 5 autonomous vehicle, even visual individuals can operate a car, where the person only need to place the address they want to go the vehicle will drive them to the place. Isn’t it amazing?

Moreover, with utilitarianism ethic, if everyone chooses autonomous vehicle, where all vehicle will be integrated into a system, it will eliminate traffic congestion, reduce travel time which can increase productivity of road users. What is interesting with this notion is an optimization of energy utilisation for the vehicle.

Thus, all vehicle manufacturer, road user and government officials need to collaborate to make this vision a reality. Currently most of autonomous vehicle on sale is expensive, with the collaboration of government and vehicle manufacturers the price can be lowered as the research as well as manufacture is subsidised. This is a valid move as it will increase safety and well-being of everyone, not only drivers but also pedestrians.

Disadvantages of Autonomous Cars

Disadvantages of fully autonomous car can be divided into two main moral analysis which are, effects on driver supporting sector and public acceptance of this implementation.

At the moment drivers supporting sector is dominated by the taxi, bus and truck driver with total of 116 billion dollar wage annually. By implementation of level 5 autonomous car, this driver supporting sectors will lose their source of income thus disturbing the community economy as well as global economy. This technology contradicts the utilitarianism ethical concept since the unhappiness or in this term, loss to the driver supporting sector outweigh the happiness or in this term, profit to the company. The loss of income will hinder the happiness to the whole taxi drivers regardless of the happiness still occur to the taxi company in term of profit. This situation also contradicts the freedom principle where freedom principle states that “everyone is free to do anything as long as they do not deny or hinder others’ happiness or pleasure”. Law and policy making can minimise the impact to the taxi driver income loss, but complete elimination of income loss is unavoidable.

Fat Man Trolley ProblemPublic acceptance is long debated issue in this technological world nowadays. Since fully autonomous car is monitored completely by Artificial Intelligence (AI), ethical reasoning and decision making is very different from what human will do. Survey have done by the MIT to identify the possible AI decisions output for certain situations. Good virtue ethics centres on the person and what it means to be human. Virtue ethics neglection can be seen by the implementation of level 5 autonomous car as AI will not behave as what it means to be human e.g. trolley problem. For example, if you are in a situation where you are on the bridge with a big guy, beneath the bridge there is train track with five people tied into it. The only way you to stop the train from killing those five people is by push the big guy to fall into the track since he is large enough to stop the train but will kill him in the process. Will you push him? Most will choose to not to push him due to ethical reasoning and common sense. Fortunately, or unfortunately, an AI will calculate the possibility and the tendency to sacrifice one human instead of five. Some decisions are best left to human reasoning instead of computational analysis. A lot of research and testing is needed to ensure this solution is perfect without any flaws.

27 thoughts on “Autonomous Car, Is It A Blessing Or Curse?

  1. Due to the problem caused in term of acceptance from the point of ethical view, fully autonomous vehicle could not be implemented in the near future but nevertheless it could save us a lot in many aspects.

  2. It is feasible to be implemented in the future since this fully autonomous vehicle could give a lot of benefits in many aspects. However, before the invention of it, a lot of researches still need to be done as this vehicle must benefits everyone, their happiness and the world itself . For example, if this vehicle being implemented in the future, what would you suggest to help the taxi drivers and taxi companies to earn their income ? Would you suggest to them to do an autonomous vehicle hiring business since not everyone can afford to buy that vehicle? From my point of view, this autonomous car is a blessing if it comes with more improvement.

  3. Autonomous car could be a great blessing in the future if the research and development are being done properly as it provides a lot of benefits to the people. However, it cannot be denied that some problems will arise with the invention of this autonomous car as what have been stated in the article. There will be shift in jobs and work cultures as some people might lose their jobs with the existence of the autonomous cars. In addition, a country’s legislation also need to be changed to make the autonomous car compatible with the road. A lot of researches and improvements still need to be done continuously to make sure that the autonomous cars can be a successful invention in the future.

  4. Autonomous vehicles or transports is an alternative way for a better safe driving condition on the road. But it may lead to miscommunication between humans and robotics itself as “we create them”. Thus, for my opinion, car manufacturers and specifically engineers who are designing them must do in detail research and a lot of test for the technology. Other than that, these autonomous self-driving vehicles should be more cost efficient in order people to buy more and use it regularly in their daily life. Finally, a famous car maker which is stated as Tesla company has showed a positive and efficient way for safe and economical driving pleasure by seeing the successful of Tesla Model S, Model X and etc.

  5. Autonomous cars are absolutely a blessing. However, in this current stage, a driver is still needed to supervise the driving of the car. I think a fully AI controlled car can be perfectly designed but it will take years. Furthermore, it is recommended for companies to have research on this opportunity instead of Tesla alone. As more company put the effort into making this a reality, the faster it will be a reality due to the healthy competition between them. Moreover, the technology will be better as more trial and error sessions are run to keep improving the AI.

    As for the taxi drivers, it might be an issue in the future, however, there is still room for error for AI in handling vehicles. Therefore, this technology still needs drivers to supervise the vehicle. In the event that the technology is perfect, I am sure there will be still needed for manpower to run the technology system smoothly but it still has not been discovered yet. However, this might be in a different way instead of driving it, probably be setting the destination instead etc.

  6. “This also agrees to the Kant theory where all rules and regulations of road traffic will be fully followed by car users as these have been programmed into AI.” How does it agree with Kant’s theory?

    “Moreover, with utilitarianism ethic, if everyone chooses autonomous vehicle, where all vehicle will be integrated into a system,” How does it agree with utilitarianism? Is it that by reducing the likelihood of accidents we are ensuring the most pleasure to the most people?

    ” This technology contradicts the utilitarianism ethical concept since the unhappiness or in this term, loss to the driver supporting sector outweigh the happiness or in this term, profit to the company.” I like this because you are saying why the issue isn’t acceptable and how it doesn’t measure up to utilitarianism. Good!

    For me, the reduction in jobs that require a driver is a strong argument against AI-cars. The trolley example has been used in a number of similar articles (PLEASE note that this is not a criticism) and I wonder how likely it is to occur.

    If I was standing on a bridge with a big guy watching a trolley hurtle towards five people strapped to a track I doubt very much if my instinct would be to push the big guy into the path of the trolley. Firstly, my thoughts just don’t run that way. Secondly, simple self-preservation tells me to avoid physical confrontations with big guys. It’s probably much more likely he will push me over once he works out what I’m trying to do. I would think, and hope, that my instinct would be to try to free the people on the track.

  7. From aspect safety to have a better safe driving by decreasing human error and reduce time

    I think more disadvantages. Robot is robot. What will happen if the programme is hacked? Component broken during driving? Would it still guarenteed a better safe driving or would turn into the other bad cases like kidnapping, murdered? Then cost must be expensive for autonomous vehicle. How about taxi and bus driver for example. They might be lost the job and need to find another job.

  8. In the final part of this article, you mentioned that AI will normally make a decision to save the lives of many rather than one which will more often than not contradict with the thought process of a human. However, in my opinion decisions made by human are often emotionnally motivated and sometimes do not give the best possible outcome.

    Therefore, is using AI to automate decision making which takes out the human or emotional side of a situation really a bad idea?

  9. as a user, I still doubt with the capability of the AI to fully control the car. the driver should give attention to the road and the AI only assist the driver. If fully autonomous car implemented in the taxi services, I will not use the service as the AI will drive the car with other road user. I still do not confidence in AI to detect and avoid any potential accident. If fully autonomous car used their specific road like train or tram, I agreed for the fully autonomous car is implemented.

  10. This is indeed an interesting topic of discussion. As technology advances, people fear the disappearance of their job. The rise of autonomous cars is a typical man-vs-job dilemma going on in other industries as well. However, I do not think this is a big disadvantage compared to the advantages autonomous cars can offer.

    It is not the first time we see such topic surfacing on the news and media. In fact, it was seen multiple times in the past. Before automobiles were invented, there was a whole industry on horses and carriages. Once automobiles were on the streets, the horse and carriage industry vanished due to this new technology. It may seem like the end of the world at that time but eventually, many opportunities began to appear. Many jobs were available in the automobile industry (factories) as demand for automobiles increased. Many supplementary industries were also created by this industry, e.g. gas stations, repair garages, restaurants (start of Michelin guides). With such technology, people were also able to live farther from work as well as increase productivity.

    My point here is that new technologies and changes can be scary but if introduced correctly, we will benefit from it in ways we cannot imagine until they actually exist. The automobile industry is one of the many industries (washers and launderers, computers etc.) that proved technology advancements brought more benefit than disadvantages.

  11. First of all, good job on specifically analysing autonomous cars to level 5. It was an informative read but my views are still very much divided. Is taking human out of driving the best course of action we have to solve road accidents?

    In terms of science and development, I am definitely for AI development but my reservations for its usage in the automation industry is associated with the rise in the number of cars on road upon the development of this technology. If level 5 AI is successful, that means now everyone can drive and this is going to lead bigger environmental impacts!! In terms of utilitarianism point, is it better for everyone to have the luxury/joy of autonomous driving or is it better to stop the development as it will impact more people in terms of pollution? And then there is also the concerns of hacking (as seen on the previous fast and furious movie) where Charlize Theron terrorised the city by hacking all the cars to fall out from the elevated parking spaces.

    However, should autonomous cars achieve the possibility of being developed sustainably, as a user I believe that the fact that no lives would be lost due to some random drunk driver’s action outweighs the risk of hacking.

  12. The automotive industry has experienced exponential growth in the past few decades, with the involvement of technologies and AI improvement. I think autonomous vehicle could present a systematic transportation and traffic system, also depicting a futuristic lifestyle which in many aspects of our daily lives have evolved around.

    It’s just that, using an autonomous network of road transportation is centered around a main control center, where all the data is stored in a hub. Complications about sharing private information of the users might be an issue, as we have recently seen the issue with the personal information being traded over several parties with the purpose of improving marketing and business of a company. Journey information, daily routine and the location tracks might be exposed to the server, or the control system. This would probably become a huge trade-off that the users need to comply with to use autonomous cars. Other than that, this definitely is a compelling issue for all parties involved n this technology.

  13. This topic is pretty hot right now with many articles covering it. In my opinion I would prefer a human to be in the driver’s seat. It gives me the sense of security and calmness to see a person driving. It might be just a state of mind however a lot of people will agree with this statement. Just further researching is well and good but if you do not make the user feel secure, nothing will change.

  14. This is a very great and interesting article! But I just want to to know in terms of the cost, maintenance, and safety:

    1) If one of the parts in autonomous car damage or need to be repaired, is it expensive to be repaired and replaced as it will use advanced technology compared to the non-autonomous car? So I guess the cost and price of the maintenance will increase.

    2) Are the manufacturer and government going to put ‘Black Box’ in the autonomous car like in the airplane for the safety purpose? So that if there is an accident by the autonomous car, the police and government will know what is the reason the accident occurred, but this will have a problem where it can neglect the privacy of driver and passengers because all of the conversations will be recorded.

  15. Superb! Nice topic, I agree with the comments stating that self driving cars need to be improved but that they will help to reduce the number of accidents. Those cars will definitely become more present in our lives in the future. They should keep producing them and find an alternative for job losses.

  16. I agree that the autonomous car is capable in reducing road accident that cause by human error. But should we fully rely on AI in controlling the car? for me, as a driver we should give as much as attention to the road and AI only assist if there any mistake. for hacking and trolley problem, the autonomous car still in developing. thus, the security of the software will be further improved and eliminate the problems. Every car manufacturer should certified all their car before release to the market.

  17. I believe that autonomous car can help people by guiding them in road, but i dont think that people should fully depend on the AI. Moral judgement is needed especially in driving in highways because it involves dealing with other users. AI only react based on the program that is implemented, thus might causing trouble especially when making crucial judgements.

  18. I believe that autonomous car can help people by guiding them in road, but i dont think that people should fully depend on the AI. Moral judgement is needed especially in driving in highways because it involves dealing with other users. AI only react based on the program that is implemented, thus might causing trouble especially when making crucial judgements. Good job to these guys for writing this good article

  19. Self autonomous car is the future mode of transportation. The main feature of this technology is the capability of it to set a car in motion without human efforts. However, the sustainability of this technology should be examined. Using AI as a way to avoid road accident caused by human error might be the best reason of using AI. The advanced control system and physical detection will make sure the car motion set in a high safety level.

  20. Autonomous car leads to the human’s dependencies in daily basis need in the future. It brings more negative impact to the humanity than positive one.

  21. Article was well written with a bit of intro towards the idea of implementing autonomous vehicle which is control by an artificial intelligence followed by the fall back of this technology. Undeniably, this technology is an excellent idea for promising future. It does contribute to decrease the amount of road accidents due to human error and fault. However, the flaw of this technology does really grows concern towards the safety of the driver and passenger where the AI can be overdrive. In addition to full dependant on an artificial intelligence which cannot give a 100 percent guarantee of its performance. It is like we are waging our life to a virtual brain. Nevertheless, the evolution of this technology are well waited to see the promising performance of an artificial intelligence in the near future!

  22. I would suggest a special route for the AI vehicle so that people can choose between riding a car automatically or manually. This is because I think time of arrival for every journey varies depending on the situation one is facing. Depends, if the system can make one car cut off another car while on the road, then I think it is fine. Or else inventors need to suggest a special route for the car so that people can drive manually which can cause a lot. Plus with the concept will be quite similar to public transportations that already exist, I think there will be competition as people might choose between buying the product or just riding public transportation which is much more cheaper.

  23. Autonomous car could be a great innovation in the future, however there is still doubt with the capability of the Al fully control the car. There are few cases reported accident did happen that involved two death when the car does no stopped when the pedestrian try to cross the road. There are challenges that we need to face for this transition to automation. We need more research to avoid these kind of problem to happen in future.

  24. We just cant rely on the AI vehicle 100%. Still need supervision and research. Human need to supervised their vehicle while using the autonomous mode. To avoid any mishap happen especially accident involved pedestrian.

  25. Personally, autonomous car is a challenging issues that still need to be narrowing down its pros and cons. In the bigger picture, perhaps, this car seems to be very helpful in the future. Since you mention that the cost is expensive, there’s a doubt that the car can be sold or maybe it’s only targeting certain group of consumers? It is very noble to reduce death caused by human error and help disabled people to drive, but we should not rely too much on AI. AI is good to assist people to drive in auto-mode but it should not fully take over human capability to drive. In term of safety and execution, depth research and supervision need to be considered more. Afterall, a machine is still a machine :).

  26. Autonomous Vehicle technology is going to make a big impact in the world as the world is leading to unlimited use of internet. But at the early stage of implementation, I suggest it can be used only for elderly people because most of elderly people have a slower decision making compared to others especially when driving in the road. Have a look at Japan. Japan is experiencing a super aging society(soruce:Wikipedia), and I think Japan is the best platform to develope this technology.
    That’s all. Keep it up geng !

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