Regardless of the eminence of the technology, there are several critical problems that have a substantial effect on humanity and their attitude toward driverless cars. These pivotal issues revolve around the importance of the decision-making algorithms included in the car. It is important to realize that there are situations in which there is no correct answer. Instead, these events turn into moral dilemmas, and the cars will have to decide what to do. On a bigger scale, it comes down to a situation where the car will guarantee the safety of its passengers but only under certain circumstances (Gingrich & Worthington, 2013).
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Currently, numerous researchers believe that the maneuvers performed by self-driving cars impose major risks on all the road users. Even though these vehicles are thoroughly tested via specific simulations, it may seem like currently these cars are trained to kill and not to save (see Figure 1). The danger can be explained by the automatic decisions made by self-driving cars which sometimes are rather debatable (for instance, a situation when the car will choose to kill one person in the crash instead of injuring multiple people) (Carr, 2016).
The researchers are keen on understanding the ways to mitigate the occurrence of human-sacrifice scenarios. At the same time, they realize that this kind of situation will be inevitable in the future full of self-driving cars. The moral dilemma inherent in this technology has a significant impact on the attitudes of humanity toward driverless cars. Nevertheless, the trends show that the public is rather enthusiastic about the employment of driverless cars and they seem not to care about the moral issues that come with autonomous vehicles (Nikowitz, 2015). The problem is, the general public is commonly not aware of the critical dangers of self-driving cars and is only interested in the uniqueness of the technology and its benefits. The majority of the issues that are currently experienced by the developers of driverless cars revolve around the notions of harm distribution, moral concerns, transparency, and impartiality. The connection between ethical considerations and autonomous vehicles is robust. Therefore, one of the critical responsibilities of the developers is to communicate the existing implications to the customers in a comprehensible way (Marsico, 2016). This should be done in order to let everyone who possesses adequate knowledge help the development of driverless cars before they make it to market. In other words, we are required to participate in the process of development of new technologies even if we will purchase and use self-driving cars (Neckermann, 2015).
To conclude, the process of building a fully autonomous vehicle that will be able to make ethical decisions is one of the sharpest issues that are currently limiting the development of artificial intelligence and self-driving cars in particular. The personal interests of the drivers are not currently taken into consideration. Moreover, the existing algorithms have trouble sticking to the moral values of humanity. The researchers believe that driverless cars may be able to reflect the emotions in the future. One of the most popular assumptions is that the shift from personal cars to complex transportation schemes will positively affect the safety of the road users. The problem with driverless cars is that even if we achieve transparency, we will be influenced by legal liabilities and moral dilemmas.
Carr, N. (2016). The glass cage: Where automation is taking us. London, UK: Vintage Books.
Gingrich, N., & Worthington, R. (2013). Breakout: Pioneers of the future, prison guards of the past, and the epic battle that will decide America’s fate. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing.
Marsico, K. (2016). Self-driving Cars. Paradise, CA: Paw Prints.
Neckermann, L. (2015). The mobility revolution: Zero emissions, zero accidents, zero ownership. Leicester, UK: Matador Business.
Nikowitz, M. (2015). Fully autonomous vehicles: Visions of the future or still reality? Berlin, DE: GmbH.