The Fault of Driverless Cars

Look Mum, No Hands!

Group 30

The year is 2025. SpaceX has put a man and his dog on Mars. CO2 levels are reported stagnant. Things are good. You are weaving through traffic in your car to work and can just about eat breakfast, finish your presentation slides and practice in the next 10 minutes. It’s Friday; you’ll meet up with friends from uni later for a drink- or several. It’ll be one for the books. Surely you need to focus on the road, on driving? You don’t. Your car drives itself.

The Fault in Our (Driverless) Cars

Driverless Car with WomanDriverless or autonomous cars- which need little or no human control in operation- seemingly promise safer and smoother road interactions, but there are a number of ethical concerns with their operation. Firstly, in a scenario where an accident or even a fatality is inevitable, it is currently unclear whose safety the driverless car’s programming should be designed to prioritise- that of the passengers or the pedestrians. Furthermore, is the decision of priority to be made by the manufacturers or the car’s owner?

A classical utilitarian approach to tackling this concern demands that the option that benefits the greatest number of people ought to be taken. Marginal utilitarianism goes further and factors in the relative benefit to each individual. As such, an argument as to whether more potential victims outside the car compared to fewer passengers in it, becomes one on whether an old lady or a child should be saved. Nevertheless, as it is difficult to predict what cascade of events may occur due to an action taken by the system the utilitarian approach becomes nearly impossible to adhere to and equally for designers to create and implement in code.  76% of the respondents in an MIT survey on using driverless cars indicated that pedestrian safety should be prioritised over that of the passengers as this was the “moral” thing to do. However, they also indicated they would not buy or use a car that followed this mode of virtue ethics. This may explain Mercedes Benz’ decision to implement the “passenger-first” directive in its algorithm.

Just as concerning is the increased risk of hacking with growing Internet-of-Things (IoT) products and further digitisation of user information. In 2017 hackers were able to implement code into a fleet of BMW cars that caused them all to unlock simultaneously. They were then stolen. The company did not patch the error in its code till 6 months later. Too little, too late? In light of recent discoveries regarding automobile manufacturer fraud (see Volkswagen) perhaps the biggest worry consumers and legislators face is manufacturer ethics and transparency.

Another ethical issue that must be considered is the effect the use of driverless cars will have on the estimated 1.5 million professional drivers in the UK. If driverless cars are to become the standard, employers are more likely to use these safer, less likely to be tired and potentially cheaper alternatives which will in turn cause severely reduced wages and even complete job loss for those replaced. With possible unemployment looming in the horizon, is this a road we are ready to drive down especially with hands off the wheel?

Algorithm, take the wheel!

Autonomous vehicles, will almost inarguably limit yearly road accidents. 65% of all road accidents are estimated to be due at least in part to driver error. Between April and September 2017 alone, a reported 3430 people were killed in road accidents in the UK. The new driving system is controlled by integrated computer programming and sophisticated hardware designed to ensure cautious driving and strict adherence to traffic rules. Coupled with the fact that one of such vehicles is unlikely to have a cheeky pint at the pub or nod off on the way home, the driverless vehicles’ improvement of road safety is the most convincing argument in its favour. Companies like Google and Tesla are also leveraging data from test models in current use to enhance their responses to real-life situations. This also involves working on firewalls in the code that are impenetrable to outsider attack.

Technological improvements aside, the ethical argument may be tipped in the robot cars’ favour. Although utilitarianism suggests a compromise when appraising the degree of damage, it ignores the fact that the future is challenging to predict. Kant argues that if it is the right thing to do, it ought to be done. Few people would argue against saving the lives of over 1.2 million people worldwide who die in road traffic accidents yearly.

Whilst it is true that autonomous technology adoption will lead to the loss of conventional jobs; the transition will introduce new job opportunities in the emerging field. In the past we worried computers would replace workers in many industries, now most people work in businesses somewhat augmented by the use of computers. Should we start seeing autonomous cars as an opportunity and not a threat?

Proponents of driverless vehicles pose their own question: How many drivers on the road today were asked who they would act to protect in the event of a collision when getting a driver’s license? Three of the four writers of this article drive and confirm that this did not feature in their driving tests. An unreasonable degree of expectation is placed on engineers who design these vehicles and on the vehicles themselves. This is not to say that issues raised must not be considered, but critics- and supporters- must moderate their expectations.

The complexities in the adoption of autonomous cars have arguments from a number of traditional ethical standpoints previously mentioned. Modern technology is only growing and a post-modernist view may be considered: there is no consensus on individual ethical standards and automated vehicles indoctrination into society is inevitable. Germany has taken the lead in preparing a guide to the design and use of driverless cars and the world must follow. It will involve consideration not just from engineers but from social scientists and legislators alike to ensure that these potentially essential vehicles are as in line as possible with society’s ethics.

125 thoughts on “Look Mum, No Hands!

  1. Interesting read. I feel that essentially, the humans are to be responsible whether it be the car manufacturer who comes up with the algorithm or even tha user who chooses to buy a self driving car. It is their responsibility to know the risk when using an autonomous car.
    I feel that autonomous vehicle should only be used when EVERYONE uses an autonomous vehicle. This means that there is a ‘centralised’ driving system or a ‘centralised’ motorway. This can mean that each autonomous cars can communicate with one another.
    The problem today is that an autonomous car can only analyse itself and its immediate surrounding. With a centralised motorway, a bigger picture can be obtained.
    All in all, i feel that driving is a risk which all users should consider and choosing to hop into an autonomous car is the decision of the user and the user should bare all the consequences of it

    1. This is an very interesting where it allows me to think about things I have never thought about and in a different unusual way I look at technologies! Afterall, I think safety is the most important in driving

      1. Yes, imagine that we can have lunch and at the same time browsing Facebook on the way to work. Isn’t it much more convenient and time saving too? Although I agree that safety is the main consideration in achieving all that and we’re still far fetched from it at the moment. Having said that, I’m not surprised if all that happens in the future 🙂

      2. A very interesting article. Never thought about the harm that it could cause to the padestrians other than the drivers themselves. Anyway, driverless cars could be implemented with the right safety measures and regulations.

    2. I agree when you say that the autonomous cars should be the only car used because otherwise there would be more accidents. This would be because autonomous cars follow the rules but people don’t always and that might be a problem when putting them both on the road together.

  2. In my opinion, autonomous cars are better than having drunks or careless people drive a manual one. I find that criticizing autonomous cars because of one or several accidents is totally ridiculous. So many people are killed due to the lack of attention paid to traffic rules. Also, pedestrians tend to ignore those regulations and often get smashed by a car or any other way of transport. I believe that human beings are the one that need to have a better understanding on what is right and what is wrong.
    Autonomous cars, in my point of view, can be safer than the cars from nowadays when well designed. We know that in the present, autonomous cars do have some accidents from time to time but in the future, they will become even better and those drunk and crazy people will not harm anybody with the use of their cars anymore nor will they go to jail for the rest of their lives for non-intentional murders.
    Also, it is true that professional drivers will lose their jobs if autonomous cars would to be implemented in the society. However, I believe that with time, people will be aware of the changes and will, slowly but surely, find an alternative as, in my opinion, those cars will undoubtedly become part of our world.

    1. Crayeant, it is true that having a problem with autonomous cars just because of couple accidents isn’t very nice as they are safer than having humans drive cars. Humans tend to avoid the traffic rules when robots actually follows them. So yes, I agree when you say that they are safer and our future.

      1. I agree with both of you, but the main ethical issue comes in the decision making process in the case of an accident. Can the car estimate a morally good decision?

        1. What do you mean by a morally good decision?
          Who can define what a morally good decision can be? Who sets the rules? Who can decide what is the moral thing to do?
          I don’t think that such a thing can be defined as such, I think that it is very complex and that people could argue against “a moral decision”.
          Who can say that killing three adults is better than one child? I don’t think anyone can say one of them is the “moral thing to do”.

          1. I have to agree with the fact that there is no such thing as good moral judgement if it involves someone’s life in danger. However, in the case of unavoidable circumstances which involves sacrificing someone’s life, just like the fame theory of ‘trolley problem’, what choice do you have? I would definitely choose to come out with harm minimisation decision but as you’re pointed out choosing between three adults and a child is really a complex scenario which I couldn’t decide on. Also, there is a possibility that psychological dilemma would play a part as well if you have your own child? That is something to think about.

  3. Regarding the argument about who should bear the blame if an accident with an autonomous car was to happen, I believe that the situation should be carefully analyzed as to see if it was the car that had a defect or if it was an issue linked to the surrounding. For instance, the car might have killed someone because that person wasn’t respecting the traffic rules and by consequence put himself in danger. If so, the manufacture should not be blamed as the behavior of some careless people cannot always be predicted.
    I, however, am not a specialist in that field and therefore, cannot give a very detailed point of view.

    1. Nice argument, I do agree with the fact that who should be blamed should depend on the situation. The manufacturer only tries and make the car follow the rules but people don’t always do and that can create a lot of accidents. People should be more educated.

  4. “Germany has taken the lead in preparing a guide to the design and use of driver-less cars and the world must follow” the world is not Germany and Germany is not the world. The driver-less cars must be embedded into a traffic network duly established not only on traffic rules but also on social behaviour of road users. road users here is not limited to pedestrians but other drivers of heavy duty and specialized vehicles, and riders of bicycles and bikes etc not necessarily those on the pedestrian lane. the emergency units and traffic agencies has records of accidents, how it happened and other conditions that are peculiar to a certain region. hence, traffic rules applicable to Germany may not fit in well in another place.
    for the case of who should be saved from injusry at accident scene, this is where the human factor overides algorithm because what takes a driver simple human judgement to navigate (such as plunging the car into a nearby ditch to save lawless pedestrian will be different to the autodriver) This is where manufacturers should show their ingenuity because the driverless car programmer’s friend may be the first to be hit. anyway, this should not hinder, the new technology because naturally, man easily adjusts to changes. once the technology hits every road, road users alertness and traffic consciousness will be high. to complement manufacturer’s detailed designing, legislation, urban development and internet security should be systematically synchronized as terrorism and crime rate may take the lead if the autocar goes on the mission.

  5. As you pointed out on who should be blamed. it is a fact that the algorithm will not go to jail but between the owner, manufacturer or pedestrian victim, someone must bear the brunt. this is highly situational because a lawless pedestrian hit by an auto driver in a poor internet signal environment on a heavily bad weather situation should not be traced to the manufacturer. Hence, a holistic approach to consider these conditions in the algorithm will make the technology safer.

  6. Great article! I’ve got to agree with the majority in the MIT study that pedestrian safety should always be the priority and car companies have a duty to respect this.

  7. There are a number of article on driverless cars, but by considering: “the effect the use of driverless cars will have on the estimated 1.5 million professional drivers in the UK” you’ve found a novel angle to explore. Moreover, with robots being considered as viable alternatives for a whole range of employment areas (with particular concern being low wage jobs) there is a larger argument to consider as well.

    Overall, this is a strong, impressive article.

    1. The ethical problems deepen when you attend to the conflicts of interest that surface in mundane situations such as crosswalks, turns and intersections.

      For example, the design of self-driving cars needs to balance the safety of others – pedestrians or cyclists – with the interests of cars’ passengers. As soon as a car goes faster than walking pace, it is unable to prevent from crashing into a child that might run onto the road in the last second. But walking pace is, of course, way too slow. Everyone needs to get to places. So how should engineers strike the balance between safety and mobility? And what speed is safe enough?

      There are other ethical questions that come up as well. Engineers need to make trade-offs between mobility and environmental impacts. When they’re applied across all the cars in the country, small changes in computer-controlled acceleration, cornering and braking can have huge effects on energy use and pollution emissions. How should engineers trade off travel efficiency with environmental impact?

  8. Very interesting article! I remember reading an article about the ethical dilemmas surrounding driver-less cars. For example, if put in an unavoidable collision would the car choose to swerve onto the pavement, potentially killing a pedestrian or would it choose to accept the impending car crash in which more lives are at stake?

    Another interesting argument would be how would one insure a driver-less car? Who would be held liable if a crash does occur?

    1. really like your comment! sure this is an ambiguous problem. The dilemma of saving whom will be an infinite chain, simply because people all have the right to be saved. Standing at the view of humanity, every action made to hit one person for saving the other will be considered as intentional harm. If we confined our vision in deciding who deserves more save, then to some extent, our philosophy of building equality does not keep up the pace of technology development.

  9. This is a very interesting and relevant article. I feel that the autonomous cars will obviously not be perfect and that an accident involving them is inevitable. The decision on who to blame for these accidents is very difficult, from the viewpoint of the driver, they’ve bought the car with the expectation that it does everything for them with no human input. Surely then, they can’t be held at fault for any accidents? The liability then falls to the manufacturing companies, however it is impossible for them to account for every driving accident scenario. I think the companies won’t want this and therefore the cars sold will probably still request human intervention at certain stages, shifting the liability to the owner.

  10. Interesting point of view, I must say. For now, it seems that the manufacturers held responsibilities for the development of self driving cars. However, Im pretty sure that in the future, there will be a new legislation for the reponsibility to shift towards consumer side. I agree that the technology is still far fetched from the aim and purpose of it but it will only get better as time passed.

    1. It is true that now it is the manufacturer that is blamed and has a lot of problems whenever there is a crash. But in the future they defently have to move the blame to the real person at fault. And that could easily be the pedestrian or another human because they tend to forget to follow the traffic rules….

  11. I think that autonomous cars are the future because of the constant improvement of technology. Also, I think that replacing a person by a self driving car could prevent accidents because a lot of them are due to human errors such as: not paying attention to signs or rules, or crossing the street without looking.
    And if there is an accident with an autonomous car, it would, in my opinion, be most likely the fault of a human. But of course, the situation has to be analyzed. A self driving car would respect the rules but humans tend to forget them and create an accident.
    It is a very interesting topic because it is an ongoing matter that creates a lot of polemics around it.

  12. Interesting topic. I think that autonomous cars could be our future but they should be safer. I think that the self driving cars aren’t safe enough yet because they don’t behave like humans, they just follow the traffic rules. I do agree that it is right to follow the rules but when it comes to humans, they do not always follow them and that might lead to an accident. People driving a car expect and react better than autonomous cars because they know how humans behave. A person could cross a street without warning but could survive if the driver expects “stupid” humans to do so.
    In the case of who is to blame if such an accident happen. I would go for the manufacturer because he is the one building the car and therfore responisble for any problem accuring. Even though a pedestrian crosses the street where he shouldn’t, the self driving car should have expectations and think more like humans. Being too much like robot would affect people in a way where they wouldn’t expect a car to stop so early at a red light for example. That could lead to confusion and create accidents as humans and robots are still too different.
    So I think that the manufacturer should be more careful and try to improve the robot’s “brain” as to ressamble the human. The car should of course, still follow the traffic rules but should take into consideration the peopl’s actions.
    As for the loss of jobs for proffesional drivers, I think that it is the future and that it is inevitable. They would need to find another job but only if the autnomous cars become safe enough as to be put into the circulation.

  13. It’s a really interesting article to reflect upon, because technology progresses everyday, and today we all depend on it. So autonomous vehicles seem like the next step to make life easier, to prevent car accidents and even promote the quality of life of impaired people who couldn’t mobilize on their own before .Regardless the ethical and safety issues I think that they could be outdone, it is true that having the people who designs the algorithms decide whether the passengers or the pedestrians matter more , seems reckless, it’s even more reckless to leave this decision to a drunk driver, or to someone that could fall asleep on the wheel. This issue could also become less important if everyone uses autonomous vehicles because the possibility of an error will decrease.
    In my opinion this could be a safer option to improve our lives, and we should wrap our minds around this idea.

    1. Awakewanderer, that’s a great argument. Who should decide who should be saved? A drunk person? I doubt it. In my opinion, it is very hard to decide who should be saved and what is the moral thing to do because everyone can argue against a certain decision. The cars should try to be perfectly safe and people should start to be less careless and be a bit more mature when driving or walking around.

  14. Interesting view on professional drivers losing their jobs. 1.5 million for UK alone is a huge number indeed. I believe that lost job opportunities always comes with an opening for new ones, as it has happened in the past in the industrial revolution and other transitions. However, I highly recognise that it is easier said than done. Extra care has to be taken on this transition. If the UK were to switch to driveless cars, there will be a transition period where employers can support professional drivers to gain new skills for entering another job field. Closing the job market for professional drivers may also mean that there will be a new job market of producing and implementing driveless cars. Nicely written article.

  15. I would not worry about the hacking problems as the author mentioned, as they could improve auto-driving techology they would probably be able to set up a high security system. Considering we are still in a large population, with auto-driving techology would cause more unemployments. Without solving the unemployment problems, the society would be more like the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer. I think this is a great article to alarm people what might would have happen in the future and get them ready for what’s coming, peopel needed to be psycholoically prepared. But personally I would be more interested in how these auto company save the our enviroments as they would be massively produce car or whatnots. Without a healthy place to live, why would bother to drive? Or, auto drive…..

    1. Very good point indeed! I believe that somehow the technology would still require human interactions and inputs. Plus, I wouldn’t trust automated robots to take me to a place I’ve never been before. Maybe it is better to implement it on public transport instead?

    2. A few good points were raised here. First i believe that hacking whilst being raised as an issue, is one of those issues that comes down purely to manufacturer. Hacking is an extremely common problem with any system using computers yet these systems exist in necassary places such as hospitals, police stations etc.
      I believe that these issues should not hold back the development of autonomous cars, and this is a point made when reviewing the article. I think the question about the environment is important and is one that isn’t commonly discussed, however, this raises a whole number of different arguments more related to industry than towards the issue of the autonomous car. For the sakes of argument, being an electric vehicle, this is a movement towards protecting the environment by increasing the number of road users swapping traditional vehicles (Using petrol or diesel) for new electric powered vehicles. This includes fully electric, hybrid and autonomous cars.

  16. “76% of the respondents in an MIT survey on using driverless cars indicated that pedestrian safety should be prioritised over that of the passengers as this was the “moral” thing to do” – I think morality is relative to the situation at hand, what if the passengers in that car are your children?. It is difficult to give a realistic correct “moral” answer until a real life situation is not presented. I do not know much about how this automated cars are trained to take human-like decisions, maybe a good approach would be to have potential car users drive a car in simulated environments . And then expose these users to different simulated scenarios of danger, so that it is determined whose safety is chosen on each scenario. However, I think that moral topics cannot be codified down to ones and zeros, and this is a complex topic that needs further study before driverless cars are fully implemented.

    1. This is a really good argument! We always mentioned in regards the theory without exploring the psychological and emotions one would take in making decision. I agree with the fact that it is difficult to come up with realistic ‘moral’ answer to this problem.

    2. Very nice argument jmagallanes, I agree with you when you state that people say what is the moral thing to do but then, in case of an accident, they might just change their mind if their child is in the car. I don’t think that surveys can be taken seriously as people cannot be objective as if they were in the real live situation I am sure they would change their minds of what is the “right” thing to do.

    3. Love that argument. I didn’t think about it when I first read the article but now that you mentioned it, I totally agree with you. People cannot say what is the moral thing to do because they do not put themselves in the situation where they would have to choose between themselves or their child and a group of pedestrian. This survey cannot be taken seriously indeed. It is very hard to decide what is the right thing to do and I wonder who should take that decision? A very controversial topic.

  17. This is very informative blog, I must admit. Especially for the positive part of the argument, shows the criticality on this technology. From my own understanding, new technology does not necessarily take jobs from man; yet rather creates (or even forces) jobs, so as suggested by the authors. In some particular lines of work, like a butler, a ‘human-touch’ is irreplaceable and that’s what customer willing to pay for. Imagine a future where autofocus vehicles become as the norm, correspondingly number of the professional drivers can decline. Yet it creates an opportunity for them to transform into a more ‘tailored’ service, aiming for a more high-end market.

    On the hacking issue though, it is almost impossible for the design team to account for all the potential threats. Just like crime, no matter how good the criminal and justice system is, there are and almost always will be criminals breaking the law. Same applies to the security issue of this technology, thus, what we can do at best is simply prepare for the worst; minimising the possible loopholes and plotting comprehensive counter-measures or remedies.

    Last but not least, from the utilitarian’s point of view, the driverless car technology (or the algorithm that drives to be more precise) faces with serious ethical dilemma on ‘save whom’ when accident is about to happen. In my humble opinion, asking the engineers to code those ethical ‘doctrines’ into the program has no difference than making cars to have feelings (a figure of speech). What those algorithms do best, at least for now, is to make rational decision on the basis of the provided relevant information. Looking back through the history, ethical standpoint evolves along with the society. For instance, in the 60s or so-called ‘nuclear age’, the nuclear energy seemed so prominent so that most of the people thought ‘nuclear power must be the future!’. However, it turned out to be not completely true; a series event of catastrophes made us revaluate the ethic problem behind it. The same applies to the autonomous cars, its inherent ethical issues may only be revealed through numbers after numbers of trials in real life, as well as its feasibility. Ultimately, it is not what is right or wrong about the technology, but it is rather what works the best for mankind that matters.

    1. Tommy, I really love what you said! Of course, appreciate very much for your compelling argument!
      Autonomous cars will crop up more job opportunities to offset the job losses. However, being overoptimistic clouded my judgment in realising the difficulties of this transition. From the comments, people saw that autonomous cars reveal a challenging choice with assuring current livelihoods while opening new economic activities. To prevent mass disruptions, I think stakeholder companies should “protect underlying workers” instead of “protect jobs”. For those who are facing the loss of their jobs, they are ought to be offered a systematic training for new jobs. The government will need to ensure the growing rate of autonomous cars as to maintain a smooth transition. It is noteworthy that the policy must be issued in accordance with geophilosophy and national conditions.

      1. To add to what Bobby says, i believe your last argument is extremely important to consider. We are currently looking at this situation from the early stages of evolution. Whilst we believe that the car would need to have a moral imperative ingrained into the computer algorithm, it is important to consider that doing this almost is trying to give the car some kind of artificial intelligence. Autonomous cars are the next step in transport technology and so striking a balance, where we can smoothly transition to a world where these vehicles are commonplace, is important. I think a slow integration of this new technology should happen to ensure that these vehicles are as safe as possible. I believe that is impossible to predict what problems will be found in the future, and the best we can do, is to make the autonomous vehicle as safe and road worthy as possible.

  18. A very good and interesting article and I do agree with the conclusion that consideration of the technology should include input not just from engineers but also from social scientists and legislator. Especially for the key ethical mentioned, such as the scenarios of where a accident or a fatality is inevitable. However, I do think that this technology will be inevitably implemented in the future and it is just a case of how do we manage this technology.

    1. Thank you Adam for writing the comment for us! I really like it! I hope you like the one gave you as well!

      A very good point of view of having social scientists share the responsibility. The autonomous car is still in the phase of the embryo. Just because there are lots of things not yet being completed, doesn’t change the era of this technology becoming inevitable in the future. People worry about the things they cannot foresee, but worry will never stop things from happening. During the group discussion, the argument was solely confined in “save whom”. The debate was continually carried out in the comments, among which most people conjectured many situations, but none of them had a definite solution. In my opinion, the argument should be transferred from “save whom” to “how to save”. The debate took place on the foundation where people imagined there was a fatal collision. But what if the cars stopped rather than choosing to hit particular one in order to save the other?

  19. Indeed a compelling article. As a technology enthusiast, I have never thought about the ethical issues behind autonomous driving before. However, I can only agree with only few arguments from the articles.

    Who to blame when accidents happen is an interesting question, do we blame the owner because it is his property, do we blame the manufacturer because they established the algorithm, or do we blame the pedestrian because he cross the road recklessly? Clearly there is not a very transparent legal framework in the world when it comes to accidents caused by fully autonomous or partially autonomous driving. It is no doubt that most of the time, these issues are a result of a non-transparent data record system. As far as the legal framework is concerned, a blockchain implementation can easily smooth or even solve all these questions, it stores data on a public ledger so it serves immutability, it means all the data on it is permanent and uneditable. The utilisation can be divided into two parts, Data Record System and a transparent Legal Framework. The data record system will also be into two parts, assuming it is a fully autonomous vehicles, 1. activities that happen in the algorithms within the vehicles and 2. activities that happen outside the vehicles. So that it records and shares a public ledger with all relevant sensor data from right before and after an accident among all the participants. Next, a public recorded legal framework on blockchain, this way vehicles owners’ privacy can still be protected while the accidents are being investigated. The framework also provide a clear guideline to car manufacturers of what will be categories guilty and what will not.

    Blockchain is still a new technology, however every part in the crypto world / blockchain space are evolving so fast that nobody can neglect the benefits it can bring. Especially when it comes to legal concerns, we have to.ensure that the liable party is held to account when things go wrong. If a blockchain-based framework can be established into autonomous-driving-caused accidents, I believe ethical or moral issues can at least be diminished.

    More to read: http://theconversation.com/whos-to-blame-when-driverless-cars-have-an-accident-93132

    1. Thank you Benson for putting this remarkable comment! to be honest, I didn’t expect you to write such a long essay.

      It is a very technology-based argument. Surely with the consistent improvement of technology in both hardware and software, the operation of autonomous vehicles will be elevated to a level that we cannot clearly imagine at status quo. Like what you mentioned, the blockchain. People see autonomous cars as a final version, so they want to make sure that these cars are safe for them and their families. A good way to assure the safety is that they are able to track the responsibility when something unpredictable happens. A desire for the need of providing sufficient technology support in the system programming pave the way in building a conceivable future market. Thank you once again for the idea of the blockchain. It gave a tangential place to start the future research and it is a virtual good measure of ethical problems!

  20. Machine replaces manual is the trend of the era, driverless car will become the mainstream of the automotive industry in the future. But the process of achieving this goal is tortuous, there are too many unknown factors on the road, visual, aural, and smell, for these aspects of perceptual, computers are different with human a lot, although the research of computer visual is developing rapidly in recent years , but it will take a long time to truly realize the large-scale application of driverless cars.

    1. Thank you William although people may not know your true name haha.

      The concept of machine replacing human is not a novelty anymore. It seems that for everyone this is becoming an inevitable future tendency. With the consistent improvement in technology, it is right to say that one day we will live in a world where mankind is entirely free from sweating jobs. However, the dreamland comes with the cost of ensuring technology and machinery are well-learned to perform and be loyal to the owners.
      It is noteworthy that a frequent argument is that technology will never replace the arts. Everything that has been done by the human is associated with some kind of emotional element and this is called art. So are we really ready to drive down this road especially with hands off the wheel?

  21. Very good reading indeed. Issues such as phantom trafficking still a major problem but with driverless cars we can greatly increase the efficiency. It also inspired me thinking about some ethical issues related to driving by algorithm, which I rarely though about before. Overall the report is interesting and enjoyable.

    1. Indeed very fascinating when you think about it. As future consumer, I believe we have the right to know more about the methodology behind the algorithm’s decision making process and not just treat it like a black box.

    2. I find it fascinating too when taking into consideration of the algorithm’s decision making process. As a potential future consumer, we have the right to question an know more about it rather than treating it as black box.

    3. glad to hear that this essay inspired you in the way of arguing ethical problems. Certainly, engineering problems always come with ethical judgement especially when the project starts to significantly affect a large number of stakeholders. The more we can think of prior to the stage of the final version, the more afterwards issues can be eliminated.

  22. Intersecting start. It’s definitely an informative article. I agree that automatic cars will bring benefits and comvinience to future human life but it is also obvious that we should apply this tech carefully. For example, my friend owns an Audi A5, which has the auto drive function. We tried it on our way to Montréal, where had barely no cars. It was helpful since it anylaze the road status and drive automatically. But when we tried to use it when there were lots of cars, it didn’t work perefectly. Therefore, auto drive tech must be improved.

    Btw, I don’t really support auto drive since driving is kind of joy for me…

  23. Enjoyed reading this. Both points in favour of autonomous cars and against were discussed. However there is still the issue of who claims responsibility when a situation such as an accident occurs. Additionally, such situations as these will potentially make for interesting court cases in the world of law.

    Either way, as with all new emerging technologies, new rules and regulations are sure to follow.

    1. Yes, with new emerging technologies, the rules and regulations will follow. However, from an ethical standpoint, many of the problems raised cannot be ignored. It is therefore important that we consider solutions to these problems and start to regulate the industry during its infancy to avoid potential toothing problems. Of course, further down the line, changes in regulation are inevitable, and there are many problems we don’t currently acknowledge or know of as there is with many new technologies. It is also a good point to make in regards to law. Currently one of the ethical problems relates to accountability, and pressure on the manufacturer. For this reason, an increase in court cases will only improve the legal situation in regards to an autonomous vehicle related accident.

    2. I agree with you! It will be complicated to address who’s fault is it when an accident happens but I imagine in the future, there will be a strict regulation on this issue.

  24. An interesting read. There are already some examples of semi-autonomous features on cars such as parallel parking and automatic braking and these improve convenience and safety.

    As somebody who works in a position where I have to deal with professional drivers, I still think some form of human element would be useful. If you’ve ever had to ring a company e.g. internet provider and had the frustration of dealing with automated responses and limited response options, it would cause issues between businesses and their clients if there was no human interaction. Especially for companies that order stock from many places and would have to deal with a whole range of operator interfaces, it would just be more professional for human interaction to be maintained.

    I also find it interesting how the topic of accidents is often treated as black and white as life or death and often refers to the moral decisions of choosing whether it is better to kill pedestrians or passengers. Surely it would be more logical to deal with the situation in terms of risk of fatality/serious injury and in most cases it would make more sense to avoid pedestrians as they do not have the cushioning of crumple zones and essentially a metal case if armour surrounding them. The only case I see for a pedestrian/passenger fatality debate is in the case of a pedestrian stepping in front of the vehicle (assuming the only place for the vehicle to swerve is a tree/lamppost), then there is an argument for the pedestrian being at fault?

    Overall, I think safety should improve from autonomous cars (though I do enjoy driving), but the bigger issue will be how sure fire the software will be and what are the potential consequences of a cyber attack.

    1. In addition to your argument, equity is another major consideration. Self-driving technology could help mobilise individuals who are unable to drive themselves, such as the elderly or disabled. But the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles could also displace millions of peoples employed as drivers, negatively impact public transportation funding, and perpetuate the current transportation system’s injustices.

      I agree that safety is the main issue regarding this technology. There shouldn’t treat the computer as black box in accessing unavoidable accidents. Their robustness and reliability is still in doubt at the moment but surely will improve in the near future. Thanks for the comment!

    2. You raise a very good point about how these situations are described. These problems go beyond such a simplicistic approach. The article mentions the marginal utilitarian theory which approaches the situation from the point of view that benefitting the most amount of people is of importance, but also contextualises this so that each individual has a weighted importance in the argument. I believe it is important to program the car not based on a persons so called imporance, since this is not a measure that can be solved with simple parameters as this is possibly unethical.
      I agree with the argument that the car should always try and avoid the pedestrian for the reason stated. However, one of the things we need to consider is that this is not completely fool proof, and it is impossible to account for the chaotic behaviour that could occur in an accident situation.
      These are issues we need to find solutions to before autonomous vehicles are commonplace on the market.

  25. Interesting article with some well thought out points of both sides of the argument.I personally strongly believe that fully-autonomous vehicles are more of a benefit to society than a hindrance as overcoming issues such as road accidents and traffic congestions will not be able to save lives but also reduce the overall carbon emissions produced by these transport vehicles due to a more efficient transportation system being in place. In terms of whose life should be saved in an autonomous vehicle when an accident is unavoidable, the rational answer would be for the transport vehicle to adhere to the same traffic laws as everyone else, being which if a pedestrian in wrongfully crossing a road and the only two options are to hit the pedestrian or swerve the car into another lane or ditch causing damage to the passenger, then realistically the passenger would be hit. In an ethical standpoint, the passenger should sacrifice themselves to save another life, but when compared to how accidents are happening commonly in everyday life, when has this actually come to pass? In conclusion, I agree that autonomous vehicles should be here to stay but with the proper guidelines and regulations imposed.

    1. This is very well done developement on one of our major points.

      Whilst i believed in the beginning that autonomous vehicles were a bad idea, the evidence shown during the discussion process (and from comments here) seemed to suggest the benefits to society. We have previously discussed that the autonomous vehicle should actually reduce accidents, and from this point of view i cannot disagree and believe if it is a solution that potentially saves lives, then it is one that should be explored. The points you make about carbon emissions are important. With the right implementation of a new traffic system and the careful integration of autonomous cars to the roads, the road could not only be made much safer, but also much more efficient and environmentally friendly.

  26. This is an article that has inspired me a lot. The innovation and progress of technology is an indispensable link in today’s society. But when technology is in opposition to tradition, how do we deal with it? This has always been a controversial issue.
    The obvious goal of driverless technology is to free people’s hands and do more in a limited time to improve efficiency. But the safety and sustainability of driverless technology remains to be seen. As far as I’m concerned, driverless technology is a choice when I have a special or emergency situation where I can’t actually drive. However, I don’t think the current driverless technology can achieve the desired effect. At the same time, even if I choose the driverless technology, I prefer to drive by myself. After all, my driver’s license didn’t come easily.

    1. Yes, this a good point. Whilst hybrid and fully-electric cars are different to traditional vehicles, they still require a driver and therefore operate on our roads in a similar way. Autonomous cars would be completely unique in that they would use the roads in a completely different way to a human driver. It is important to consider everyone in this situation. Creating a situation where the autonomous car would not affect the other road users in a negative way is important, especially considering stakeholders such as yourself, who are not interested in buying (or using) and autonomous car. After all it should be a choice, not a necessity!

  27. Great read and sums up everything I have read about autonomous cars in general. Interesting data about the MIT questionnaire and this potentially throws up the opportunity to the automobile industry about the direction to pursue. Interesting times ahead.

    P.S.: Enjoyed the pun on the novel name The Fault In Our Stars.

    1. Thanks very much, VJajoo! Glad someone got it!

      We also definitely were pretty intrigued by the MIT study, but in truth we probably would have answered the same way!

      You’re right. It will be interesting to see which way we’re headed, autonomous cars or not.

  28. Don’t you think utilitarianism would be against driverless cars due to the unhappiness caused to the many taxi drivers that would loose their jobs? Also you mention Kant would be for driverless cars due to our duty to increase safety but shouldn’t it be a person’s duty to increase safety by concentrating on the road whether they are driving or not? Shouldn’t a human override the system in an event of an accident? Do you think this would be more ethical rather than have a machine decide based on coding?

  29. This really summarises the pros and cons of autonomous cars… to be fair it hasn’t taken into account of different peoples driving abilities. but overall its a good read 🙂

  30. Thanks for these penetrating views of the author. As I concerned, technology revolution, is something inevitable as long as our civilization keeps growing. Trying to stop it because of moral concern can hardly work, think about Manhattan Project, noting could be absolute harmless to everyone. Therefore things we need to work out, in a practical and realistic way, is that whether its goodness exceeds drawbacks and how to minimize it. In a Kantian view, a good way to judge a moral issue under certain circumstances is to consider that ‘ is it a right choice which can be universalized?’ Apply it to individuals would help specify the case and by clarify the terms and assumptions we use, I think most of us can reach to an agreement.

  31. Interesting article! I think moving along to driverless cars is inevitable but I think the issue of who to blame for accidents is an important one. Everyone looks for a scapegoat in scenarios like this and the manufacturers of the cars will always seem like easy targets which I think is quite unfair. It definitely takes that element of responsibility away from the driver when in the car.

    And if we get to a future where driverless cars become the norm, would people not need licences anymore to drive since they wouldn’t actually be driving? To me, the system seems set up for manufacturers to take the brunt of every potential negative outcome while people as a whole become less responsible and accountable

  32. I think it is really interesting article with no obvious ‘right’ answer to the questions posed. Its probably not an answer that programmers and engineers should be deciding. I think they have the potential to be safer and reduce accidents. However, I think it is really important that individuals users cannot change the programming of their cars. There needs to be clear legislation from the government on driverless cars.

    1. I think that the government actually needs to act and try to make people more aware of the rules they have to follow. I don’t think there is “the right thing to do”. I think that it just depends on the situation and everybody acts differently depending on a situation.

  33. Who would be the decision maker in a life or death road accident situation..an interesting question. I feel like it couldn’t instantly implemented on people that they had to trust the cars, surely the ideal situation would be that when a dangerous situation occurs on the road, the car could alert the driver and then be controlled manually.. Would this mean that there would be new types of driving tests that would have to be passed, to ensure that you were able to understand and what point you would need to intervene or be able to see an accident arising. I imagine it would need to be phased process over many years where people are gradually able to trust the cars more..you wouldn’t feel comfortable as a passenger in a car with a driver you knew was unsafe..so why would anyone get in a driverless car when they were unaware of how it was going to respond in a dangerous scenario. Only after the vehicles have had time on the road in real life situations would you be able to analyse the success of how they handle the situation..

  34. I think that it is not a question of if we should accept the rise of driverless vehicles, because that point has already passed. A number of manufactures already have vehicles on the road with autonomous capabilities (notably Teslar who’s autonomous function caused the death of a driver when it failed to detect a truck)

    I think the main motivational factor for accepting autonomous vehicles is purely a financial one in a capitalist society, truck drivers can legally only drive for 14 hours including breaks a day an autonomous vehicle can theoretically operate 27/7. This will lead to huge job losses but lower prices for consumers which ultimately is what will be the driving factor.

    1. Nice argument! Didn’t think about that but I actually think it would be useful if the trucks can self drive because they could avoid the drivers to fall asleep on the wheel or even get a bad health due to sitting down for so many hours. It is true that it will result in job loss but then, the truck drivers will have a lot of time to find a different job before that happens. Plus, I ‘dont’ think it is so bad if they don’t sit all day anymore.

  35. Good article and appreciation of the different ethical schools of thought!

    I think that the issue of whether the car prioritises the passenger or pedestrian is not as simple as choosing one or the other when creating the alogrithm. Perhaps there are some instances where the passenger must be prioritised and others where the pedestrian is priorities? So the car AI must be must be advanced enough to be able to analyse the situation and prioritise whichever person is most important based on the situation.

    What if the car AI detects an imminent collision with an animal on the road whilst driving near the countryside – should the passenger or animal be prioritised?

    1. Interesting question. It isn’t easy to decide and having a car that can analyze such a situation is very futuristic. Also, what if the car succeeds to do so, how can it justify the person it decided to save? Some people could always go against it and state other arguments. It is very hard to know what should be done, especially in the time-laps of an imminent accident.

  36. Driverless cars will be manufactured regardless for the sake of furthering technology. Of course the possibility of reducing accidents is an attractive thought but like most other comments there would be situations where only human judgement would be valid. It can be argued that humans have better understanding of human behaviour and anticipation so can such algorithm match this? Also for ethical scenarios where the judgement comes from the automation who would be blamed? I think it can be avoided if all cars were driverless and in a unified operated system is in place. But driverless cars may take some time to attract people as most people do like to drive for themselves. Finally, with automated cars, job losses would be encountered but is the loss of jobs worth the risk of saving lives through reduced accidents?

  37. It seems every tech innovation will come with the problem that the new tech will replace human workforce and some of them may lose their jobs. This article gives a strong explanation and evidence on how to deal with this, which I agree with. But the driverless system comes with a more difficult ethical problem which is ‘decide who to die’. I think this cannot be decided by the manufacturer. Instead, maybe they should give the customer the opportunity to decide just like what the drivers do to decide whether implement the ‘passenger-first’ or to put the pedestrian into the first priority.

  38. A very interesting two sided article. There must be a lot safety considerations to make for driverless cars road legal and it is unclear who would be liable if a collision did take place. It would not be fair to blame the manufacturer since sometimes a collision is impossible to avoid. Also I do think that driverless cars will create as many jobs as they will replace.

  39. There are many things to consider regarding autonomous cars. For instance, there is the legality issue. Assuming that a car accident happens and a pedestrian is killed. Which party should be responsible for that mishap? Is it the engineering team in charge of the programming? Is it the owner of the car? Or is it the pedestrian? Apart from legal issues, there is also a concern when it comes to hacking. Like the example with BMW, hacking will become a major safety issue. We are still a long way from autonomous cars being the norm and fundamental issues should be addressed before then.

  40. A very interesting article,

    High technology with the driverless car can be very helpful in the future not only for people who cant drive the car. But just remember there are many people who work as a driver and if all of the cars now is driverless, that people will be jobless.

    Second problem if the algorithm or the machine is an error, it be very harmful to the people who use that car. Thus, I think there will be very long term practical, test and fix the prototype to make this driverless car safety.

    1. Safety is the main purpose in developing the self-driving car. I agree with the fact that human’s error is the leading cause of road accidents. However, we are still at a point where the current technology and infrastructure would not bring any substantial benefit to our safety. Perhaps in 10 years we would come at the stage where we are fully confident in letting the computers taking over the tasks? Thanks for your comment!

  41. I’d focus my concerns on the jobs that will be lost when people actually start to trust the algorithms. There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., and almost 9 million trucker-related jobs, many of which will be automated. And that’s not counting drivers of taxis, limos and school buses, or the workforces of Uber, Lyft and the like. Granted, the economy has proved capable of creating new kinds of work in the past. But given the probably scale and speed of the job losses to come, I think it’s time to start planning.

  42. After reading another article on autonomous cars, I have to say this article presents the case with clearer ethical arguments. The incorporation of figures, for example “1.2 million people who die from traffic accidents” gave a clearer picture of what we are expecting from this technology – for the lives of so many to be saved. Assuming that the percentage of road accidents decrease dramatically, surely we should not focus on pointing our fingers to whom is to be blamed for the small percentage that could not be saved, but focus our energy on improving the technology?

    Yes it has glitches that need to be patched like in the BMW case but as long as it is being continuously improved, I believe that it should continue to be marketed. In the end, I believe that autonomous cars will benefit us in the long run. It may take some time to implement and get the regulations just right, but ultimately people will see the benefits of it.

  43. Very interesting article. I read and it made me weep laugh and smile. I hope there is a sequel to this. Together we learn that robots are starting to invade our lives. Together we must stand and drive for our rights. We must fight.

    1. I agree. As someone who drives a lot, this article made me realize that the time is near when auto makers will stop producing individual cars. A centralized system for car will be in production which could ensure the safety of passengers using the autonomous vehicle.
      This truly made me weep as the fundamental of a car for me is being in control of the car and power slide until you burnt your tires.
      As with all good things, it must come to an end in order for a new beginning to start.
      The king is dead, long live the king
      Or rather,
      The Automotive world is dead, Long live the autonomous

      1. Interesting argument I would say. I can sense that this is the voice from car enthusiast community. I personally think that autonomous should be treated as a safety feature that can be engaged or disengaged by the driver. That way, the driver would still have the opportunity to being in control of the car and enjoy driving it. That is one way of saving the community? Thanks for the comments!

  44. 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.

    1. As Earht245 said, it is true that those cars are our future and that they will be there even if people try and stop the production. They should just be safer and people should start and be more careful when being out on the streets.

  45. I think that who is to blame should depend on the accident. I don’t think that the manufacturer should be blamed if a drunk pedestrian runs in front of the car. The manufacturer only creates the car based on the traffic rules but does not take into consideration how careless people can be. But still, it is people that need to obey the rules and not put themselves in danger. Of course accidents will always happen but with self driving cars, they could be reduced. Embrace the future.

  46. A really novel and sharp thinking towards the driverless or autonomous cars issues!
    The argument about the priority of safety, the passengers or the pedestrians, is truly a difficult problem to define or decide. In my opinion, there is no difference between passengers and pedestrians, which should be equal from the perspective of human rights. Actually, the consequence and detriment caused by the traffic accident are a bit like Schrödinger’s Cat: anyone got involved has the same level of uncertainty to survive or die including both passengers and pedestrians. The reason why we now show more sympathy for pedestrians is mainly attributed to the existing modes of transportation, which put pedestrians on the side of the disadvantaged.
    So I think the best way to solve this problem is not concerned with the sophisticated algorithm embedded in autopilot system, but the revolution of traffic regulations so as to grant the same rights, status even risks to passengers and pedestrians. It is related to high-tech, but more related to social norms indeed.

  47. This is a very interesting and relevant article. I feel that the autonomous cars will obviously not be perfect and that an accident involving them is inevitable. The decision on who to blame for these accidents is contradicting as it involves several parties which includes the manufacturers as well as the drivers. From the drivers point of view, they’ve bought the car in hoping and with guarantee that everything will be able to be done for them with minimal human input. But at the same time, they are to know better that it is quite impossible to rely completely on AI and automated machines as they have flaws.

  48. If autonomous cars are designed correctly, they will never breach the laws of the road and will therefore never cause a dangerous situation themselves. If a pedestrian is careless and places himself in harm’s way, it is his fault and nobody else’s. I think that these autonomous cars should be designed to prevent an accident wherever possible, but only if doing so does not place the occupants at risk. Drivers are too often blamed (and punished!) for the mistakes made by thoughtless pedestrians, and this needs to end!

  49. An interesting topic to be discussed especially in this fast changing world. I am interested with the phase “65% of all road accidents are estimated to be due at least in part to driver error.”. Although this will be the main excuse for people to come up with the driverless car, however, from my point of view, this is not be the case. The current world is relying too much on the computer system and technology that will make them to be careless and negligence. Instead, the system should only be the driver assistance and not the driver itself.

    Anyway this is a good article and have some interesting points to be considered.

  50. Wow! Brilliant! This is a very interesting and relevant article. I feel that the autonomous cars will obviously not be perfect and that an accident involving them is inevitable. The decision on who to blame for these accidents is very difficult, from the viewpoint of the driver, they’ve bought the car with the expectation that it does everything for them with no human input. Surely then, they can’t be held at fault for any accidents? The liability then falls to the manufacturing companies, however it is impossible for them to account for every driving accident scenario. I think the companies won’t want this and therefore the cars sold will probably still request human intervention at certain stages, shifting the liability to the owner.

  51. 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.

    1. Yes I agree, I don’t think anything can be done about the job loss. People will just need to find an alternative. Anyways, they have a lot of time as those autonomous cars won’t be there by tomorrow but will need many years to play a real part in the society.

  52. really interesting and enjoyable article. rather than security problems concerning the possibily of hacking the car locking system, what mostly made me wondering are the ethics concerns and the employment’s changing due to this technological innovation. Especially regarding the first point, despite the MIT survey’s results, I think that applying the rule “pedestrian safety first” would be completely rational only if there’d be the certainty that pedestrians follow the proper street rules, otherwise the car’s behaviour would be potentially affected by human mistakes, as in the presence of a human driver.

    1. Totally agree!! I think that ‘pedestrian first’ can only be applied, as you said, if the pedestrian actually followed the traffic rule and still, sometimes if it is one pedestrian against a full car of children, I doubt that this rule can be applied. Also, people tend to avoid the rules and therefore they might create an accident. Complex subject.

  53. An interesting article. As an engineer, it would be very interesting to see driverless cars around! However, I agree with ‘PeachScones’ comment where he/she commented that the driverless cars should only be used if EVERYONE is using it. Only then, the whole world will fully be ready to think of security and extra measures that come along with the implementation of driverless cars. My main concern is that as we move towards digitalization, we are more vulnerable to cyber crimes. Therefore, proper security measures have to be taken to ensure that the car is safe from being hacked and etc.
    Come to think of it, most accidents usually occur due to the driver’s fault. Sometimes, it saddens me that the carelessness of certain drivers has killed innocent lives. Therefore, if this is something that driverless cars can prevent, then I am all up for it!

  54. An interesting article raising an important topic as driverless cars are becoming more and more common. I believe that generally, introduction of driverless cars will have benefit on the safety on the roads and therefore, its development is beneficial for the society. In the situation discussed in this article, when the car needs to decide between a pedestrian and a driver, it might be possible to consider approach of minimising potential consequence of action.

    A computer algorithm can take into account number of people in the car and number of pedestrian affected and estimate consequences for each of the parties involved. Therefore, an action that will lead to the smallest negative consequence of collision can be taken. For example, there is a choice between colliding with a pedestrian of a wall. If the car decides to hit the wall, damage to the car and the car passengers will be more significant, but they will be more likely to survive than a pedestrian due to much improved safety standards in the car (it should be notes that driverless cars will not likely be driving over the speed limit, thus reducing effects of a potential impact). Therefore in such a situation, I believe it might be safer to hit the wall to ensure that the least impact on health of all the people involved is achieved.

    Such argument leads to possible innovations in the roads construction, such
    Obviously, more complicated situations might arise, when either a pedestrian or the car passengers will be in the danger of death, for example when there is a choice of either to direct the car onto the pedestrian (endangering life of pedestrian) or down a precipice (endangering life of the car passengers). In such a situation similar argument can be used, i.e. trying to save the life of as many people as possible (minimising negative consequences) rather than always going for pedestrian or always going for car passengers.

  55. Interesting topic. In my opinion, autonomous car is a brilliant idea in raising the living standard of the mankind. So far, there are no autonomous car brand that is fully established that I have heard of. During March this year, an accident involving autonomous car from Tesla was reported. The driver was actually leaving the auto-pilot function on while he set the safety distance to the minimal. It was also stated that the driver ignored the vehicle’s warning to increase the safety distance. As a result, he crashed on a concrete divider. There are no promises from any car manufacturer on autonomous car about accidents. Tesla only promised to reduce rate of accidents after the incident, but not to avoid. The safety of the both driver and pedestrian should be priortised over the comfort and convenience of people. There is no perfect car. Even machines eventually fail. If there is a faulty with the car while the alerts don’t work, or if the driver take advantage of having an autonomous car to rest on the road, accidents will still happen.

    In conclusion, a certain automation could be done to cars (eg. auto-cruise) while human must still always pay attention to the road and manual operation on the car to make sure that full attention is paid while driving on the road.

    1. It is important we raise these issues now, whilst autonomous cars are not commonplace on our roads. You give a great example of potential problems with the technology from an aspect we haven’t properly considered.

      Accidents will still happen, that is inevitable. However, from a certain perspective a reduction in actions could be consired better than doing nothing. As another stakeholder mentioned, these potential problems won’t be understood until we allow more of these vehicles on our roads. As with commercial aircraft, the vehicle should be required to be operated manually, unless in a low risk situation. The major issues stem from locations (i.e. town centres) where pedestrians, and slow moving traffic is expected. It is clear that more work needs to be done to improve the safety of the autonomous vehicle, however, this should not hold the progress back.

  56. Driverless car has raised a huge debate among people. I prefer the first option that not let the car driving you and you should drive the car! Maybe human-control with active safety is still best choice at the moment. You can see two accidents happened with Tesla driverless car and two people (a driver and a pedestrian for each case!!) were killed. I personally don’t trust the driverless car. Many things should be standardized and the comprehensive rule and law (who should be responsible for the accident? the driver or the company who create the algorithm? or how many percents for each?)are yet to be established.
    To conclude, Hands on the steering and eyes on the road!

  57. Autonomous cars may seem like the logical step in the evolution of personal transportation. Whilst at its infancy, the critical issues revolve around the ethical consideration on the safety of the passengers or pedestrians and economic implications on loss of jobs. Under the circumstances, there should be some form of arbitration between the autonomous vehicle manufacturer and consumers to settle any disputes arising from any defects that leads to loss of human lives.
    The driverless cars offer enormous prospect for driving to be much safer once the technology mature into dependable operation. It is hope that someday it will take unpredictable human behavior out of the equation and more lives could be saved from road accidents. In addition, there should be a sound job strategy to automation to enable us to put our human resources to good use.

  58. Very fascinating article. I like how it tastes like very sugary and the rendang chicken is crispy. On top of everything, you have successfully emphasized the problems that autonomous vehicles have by nitpicking everything like it is supposed to be perfect. This will ensure the safety of us pedestrian and reduce the level of laziness hoomans can be. Remember don’t drink and drive nor text. Use hands free. Shake my hand. Autonomous vehicles? Yay or nay? I express my rights and say nay.

    1. That’s a very nice comment haha. I totally agree when you say that it will take away danger as of when people drink or text. Also, people sometimes are lazy, indeed, it will help people in solving this issue if they don’t have to drive anymore. But what if they actually like to drive? Maybe they will become more bored if they know they can’t drive and won’t want to get out anymore?

  59. The debate on the risks taken in operating the autonomous vehicle should not deter the manufacturers of this vehicles in making the technological advancement in improving the driverless vehicles. Surely the time will come for us be more appreciative of the safety and comfort of the autonomous vehicles. I am certain the elderly and handicap will enjoy the freedom of movement offered by the technology.

    1. I agree, the manufacturer should not be deterred from developing driverless cars. These arguments should be used to drive improvements from various perspectives. I believe several changes could be changed.

      1. Creating a system where someone can be held accountable in an accident situation.
      2. Updating the roads, it might be possible to introduce a virtual traffic system, that can interact with the driverless car.
      3. Using an autonomous car should be a huge responsibility. It is possible that maybe a unique driving license should be required to operate an autonomous car independently.

      You make a great point about this techology possibly being great for the elderly. It is for these kind of reasons we should explore this technology and not hinder it.

  60. A good opening paragraph which leads to the major point interestingly. In the structure of this article, I am not in this field and after reading the first paragraph, I’d rather want to know something about the application of driverless car and in what degree. From them, I will read this article with my own thought preferably. The author put the article into two parts and I can see the author’s progressive thinking process.
    In my opinion of autonomous cars, It is valuable but not a mature technology, and if we want to popularize it, which has to overcome the problem about ethics, morals, society and so on. People have become accustomed to traffic accidents caused by human factors, but they still mind about the few traffic accidents caused by autonomous cars. It’s not because that people hold prejudice against this technology, but people don’t realize the advantages and the prospects of driverless cars. Therefore, we should not only focus on the development of the safety and reliable about autonomous cars but also strengthen the propaganda and guidance of this technology to eliminate people’s concerns.
    In the last paragraph, I was wondering about “Germany has taken the lead in preparing a guide to the design and use of driverless cars and the world must follow.”. I believe that any capable country can study its own driverless technology on the basis of its own laws and traffic rules.

  61. Interesting article. In my stand, I agree with the approach taken by Mercedes-Benz by prioritising the passenger in making an autonomous vehicle. As mentioned in the article who would buy a car that is programmed to be unsafe. Furthermore, the article mentioned that the autonomous vehicle is designed to strictly adherence to the traffics rules, but personally I would say that it should be designed to have an option to obey those rules to some extend. I believe that most people will have emergency cases where they need to against those rules. However, the vehicle should assist them in those cases, for example give them warning when they turn on the emergency mode.

  62. Autonomous vehicles set out with the aims to reduce car fatalities, but how sure is the technology to guarantee that a driverless car is safe? It is true that self-driving cars don’t get tired, angry, frustrated or drunk. But neither can they yet react to uncertain and ambiguous situations with the same skill or anticipation of an attentive human driver. I believe that the self-driving technology may still struggles to distinguish pedestrians from inanimate objects like bushes or poles or bags that blow into the road, which suggests that perhaps the two still need to work together, rather than being completely dependent on the technology.

  63. The article is fascinating. I like how you present the story in a movie theme which makes it reader-friendly, in my opinion. Even though I don’t really know much about automobile, you make it understandable.

  64. The era of autonomous vehicles is here to stay despite of the many concern raised by the wide spectrum of society. Its technological advancement should be able to transform our lives in more ways than one. Given more time, the technology could be designed to optimize efficiency in acceleration and braking which helps to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. In addition, there are much better ways to spent your precious time in your autonomous car doing things that you could only imagined when faced with a nasty traffic jam or slow moving traffic. Other technological advancement on GPS should complement the operation of the autonomous vehicles by directing the traffic in congested areas which offers the passengers a safe and smooth ride.

  65. This article addresses many critical points in the field, an additional one you might want to consider is where the finger of blame resides if there is a crash. The notion of making a decision to favour the occupants of the vehicle or pedestrians is deep and is one of the many key problems AI must evaluate, but again you could debate what the correct answer to that actually is.

    Essentially we are evolving from a world where humans error is no longer tolerable, the bigger question is where do humans fit into an autonomous world? What does the future hold in terms of work?

    Thanks for a great read!
    Nathan

  66. The thought of driverless cars scares me. But maybe lots of car drivers scare me too. I hadn’t really considered the ethical implications until reading this article. I am not sure how these ethical issues will be resolved but I look forward to seeing how the technology evolves.

  67. This is a very good, thought provoking article that raises some good questions and from differing view points.
    It seems to take the 1905 ethical thought experiment, the ‘trolley problem’ and poses it in relation to this emerging technology.
    The ideas that one of the big questions being where the burden of choice lies as to who would ultimately decide which choice should be made by the algorithm is an intereting one. Should it lie with the individual manufacturer, the legislative body in the area the vehicle is sold or should it be over ridden by the occupants?
    A difficult question that is posed by this piece.

  68. A great article outlining the key ethical issues surrounding the inevitable future of transport, with some interesting considerations. As you allude to, the responsibility in the event of an accident is a key consideration & one which I see manufacturers wriggling out of with ‘conditions of use’ clauses for some time.

  69. Just as Darwin summised regarding the role of evolution with the progression of time; computing and everything man creates, imagines, and desires evolves too. It’s a rare thought that this evolution is to the detriment of the masses, even if the minority may suffer displacement along the way. Who would have thought just a few decades ago that our future generations would have thumbs like table tennis bats just to help them play Fifa 29 on the PS17 ? And wheels for feet so we don’t have to walk so much ? And ..and..and…

    Ridiculous ? Well maybe, but just staying grounded for a moment this is exactly what evolution does. In so many ways the future inspires and excites, whilst yet it creates uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

    One thing is certain – that man creates for the future. He creates for stability, and he creates for success. I dare you to suggest any of mans creations which don’t offer all of the above. Sure, you may point at nuclear weapons, or weapons of any type for that matter, but even these it can be argued, help create that stability and support our future thinking. We’ll move on from weapons, but just leave the thought that we rearely look backwards with anything more than a smile of success on our faces. We are a proud species and will continue to be so.

    And so we come to the autonomous vehicle. The question here is not when, or even how these beasts of the future will arrive, but how they behave. What will they do when faced with a decision which requires more than the simple algorithmic approach of how to behave to minimise impact ? Lets not fool ourselves that having a human behind the wheel (remember those ? you had to turn them with your hands to change direction ? Cue: “and they peel them with their steely knives…hahaha !” [One for my generation that one – students – Google it !] ) makes things any less complex. We all react differently. From training, experience, state of mind, even genetics. We behave differently and would have a bewildering, sometimes baffling, set of outcomes if all faced with the same situation.

    Take away this randomness, and ignore our appetite for blame and litigation, the thing we remove from behind the all important driving controls, is emotion. That overriding human feature of our being that can overpower and dictate every other instinct to survive or protect.

    Is this a bad thing ? I honestly dont think our inbuilt and personalised behaviours are stable and coherrent enough for us to make that assessment. Not yet anyhow. The evolution of Artificial Intelligence is itself embryonic and we’re on a path of discovery which will enlighten and inspire us to strive ever forwards. The World is getting safer and safer as we plough through time. The autonomous vehicle is no exception. Lives will be lost. It won’t be withough failure, suspicion and blame. But we live in that world now. The autonomous car won’t introduce those finger pointing problems into our lives, they’re already here.

    We will however, without doubt, make such negatives less and less prevalent in our lives. We’re on a path to the future folks. We we always have been. We will always look back at our ancesterors with pride and admiration, but we’ll always look to the future and dream.

  70. Your argument is quite well balanced but I believe that ultimately the answer to the question you have posed will be revsoled in the courts post an automated fatality. The legal test will not be easy and will be drawn out and under intense scrutiny. The answer is very important as it will inevitably touch everyone’s lives.

  71. Great article. The economic argumeents for new technologies are the same regardless of the technology. However, autonmous vehicles are probably going to be the first widespread application of AI that bring new moral and legal aruments around responsibility for decision making and actions. Asimov’s laws do not solve this for the designer of the algortithm, so it is the designer who is responsible? What if the program learns for itself? I’m not sure of the answers but given Moore’s law is still holding true, society is likely to feel the weight of the moral and legal dilemas brought about by autonomous cars and the AI applications that follow sooner rather than later.

  72. ‘Mobility’ has become the key word in the current era of human transportation and is expected to revolutionized the transport industry in the near future. I find the article on autonomous vehicles and the comments generated very interesting in light of other advancement made on other front such as the use of autonomous, passenger-carrying ‘drone’ currently being experimented by engineers in China and Germany. I am quite certain that more innovative advancement on autonomous technology is in the making and this will surely change the way we think and move.

  73. The phrase “Look Mum No Hands!” can be viewed as the best description of any cycling-themed situation including driving. It denotes the enthusiasm and excitement associated with the navigation of the modern roads and highways using various cycling platforms. The article “Look, Mum, No Hands!” puts into view the ethics associated with the use of driverless cars with respect to the safety of both the passengers and the pedestrians. The highlighted advantage of driverless vehicles is that they enable the performance of various personal activities such as working on a project in a laptop in which less focus is put on the road when compared to driving car. From an individual perspective, the article provides a broader perspective on the ethical implications of the driverless vehicles especially at a time where the motor industry is engaging in various forms of innovations. One of the ethical issues highlighted in the article is the occurrence of accidents with the debatable issue of whether the focus should be put on the pedestrians or the passengers. The associated view is that such cars focus more on the passengers and disregard the passengers such that they may cause injuries if adequate care is not put on the roads. The possible scenario would be for the car manufacturers to integrate stable sensors that detect the presence of pedestrians to limit the occurrence of accidents. Another significant aspect highlighted in the article is the attack by hackers on vehicle systems with the view that computerization makes it possible for the hackers to engage in car theft. An example is given of the BMW Company in which “In 2017 hackers were able to implement the code into a fleet of BMW cars that caused them all to unlock simultaneously,”. Such an incident implies that the car manufacturers need to focus on integrating adequate security measures when developing the driverless cars to ensure that hackers are unable to access such cars and, if they access them, the vehicles can be easily tracked. Be that as it may, there is the need to consider the ethics regarding driverless cars when it comes to public safety.

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