5 Moral Dilemmas That Self-Driving Cars Face Today

Source: The post is based on the article 5 Moral Dilemmas That Self-Driving Cars Face Todaypublished in Forbes on 3rd November 2022.

What is the News?

Autonomous vehicle manufacturer Tesla faces their biggest challenge since the launch of Autopilot in 2015 as a series of lawsuits and a criminal case over fatal Tesla accidents head to court.

What are Autonomous Vehicles?
Self driving cars
Source: Delphi

An autonomous vehicle or a driverless vehicle is one that is able to operate itself and perform necessary functions without any human intervention through the ability to sense its surroundings.

Advantages of Autonomous Vehicles: 1) Reduce traffic congestion, 2) Cut transportation costs (in terms of vehicles, fuel and infrastructure), 3) Reduce urban CO2 emissions, 4) Can save unproductive time, 5) Decrease in accidents due to human error and 6) Decrease in human stress.

Ethical issues involved in Autonomous Vehicles

Giving Control to the Driver: Tesla requires the driver to keep their hands on the steering and be attentive, even when the vehicle is running in fully autonomous mode. The driver needs to be prepared to take over at any moment.

But, even in such cases, if an accident does happen, there is a question of who is responsible for the loss of life and property? Is it the autonomous car or is it the driver?

Accountability: In the case of any crash, it would arise an issue of accountability whether the car owner would be accountable or the manufacturer of that vehicle.

Rightful Deciders of the Ethics of Self-Driving Cars: Generally, the ethics of self-driving cars are determined by the engineers who work on the car’s technology. What they deem right or wrong determines how the car will act in certain situations like accidents.

But people argue about who is the right person or organization to decide the ethics of self-driving cars. Is it the engineers who worked on the car technology? Is it the government of the country where the vehicle will be driven?

Program the Car to Make an Impartial Decision: Some argue that the best way for a self-driving car is to make an impartial decision in case of accidents. They must not discriminate between humans based on age, gender, or other parameters. They should always make a decision that causes the least impact.

Loss of jobs due to automation: Job loss to drivers without compensatory skill development and job creation. It is believed that in the coming future automation will kill 69% of jobs.

Hacking dilemma: There is always a risk of a cyber criminal hacking into the car’s system to gain access to sensitive data or to carry out a misdeed.

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