Ethical issues with self driving cars

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Philosophy

Document 1

Self-driving cars promise green cities, safety on the streets, secured transportation, and reduced road accidents. However, the ethical perspective of self-driving cars presents increased harm than good. Typically, automotive engineering emphasizes the principles of human safety, less damage, transparency and equality in service. In such a case, self-driving cars are ethically unjustifiable because they compromise human safety, lack licensing infrastructure and regulations and a potential loss of privacy. This paper aims at explaining the background and ethical issues of self-driving cars. While companies continue to evolve towards producing an increased number of self-driven cars, ethical issues revolving around the automated technology continue to rise. According to Lin (2015) accidents resulting from automobile machines are the leading cause of increased death rate in America.

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Furthermore, the leading cause of over 90% of automobile accidents results from human error. Recent statistics show that in 2015, over 35,093 people perished in road accidents globally (Hevelke and Nida-Rumelin, pg 626). Arguably, if these passengers were riding in self-driving cars, they would not have died. According to Lutin et al. (2013), a significant cause of road accidents is poor weather conditions and incompetent drivers. Since self-driving cars rely on technology, it means that they are not capable of providing high safety levels in all weather conditions. The laser sensors in self-driving cars are likely to be affected by poor weather conditions such as heavy rains leading to an ethical issue on what safety issues could arise in case the technology fails. A technological failure jeopardizes human safety and security on the roads.

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Self-driving vehicles will continuously rely on accurate GPS mapping systems which may present privacy issues. Accurate mapping requires the driverless cars to connect to a cloud-based server to generate and collect data for operation. Through the GPS mapping, third parties can track the car’s movement posing severe security threats (Lutin et al. Also, passengers are required to submit their private information to determine their destinations and other sensitive information. When unauthorized persons hack into the car’s system, they are likely to retrieve passenger’s information leading to loss of privacy. Solutions to the issues Given the detrimental ethical problems of self-driving vehicles, proactive solutions need to be sought to curb the menace while it is still early. At the outset, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials need to strike a balance between the pragmatic aspects and the need for innovation.

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Such stability can be achieved by offering automobile industries with a wide berth of freedom in allowing them to manufacture vehicles in accordance with the standard car regulations. The self-drive measure will enable NHTSA to adopt proactive security standards and rules for self-driving cars. As postulated by Goodall (pg. The vehicles should be passed through penetration testing whereby the car’s digital systems are purposefully attacked to expose potential vulnerabilities. As a result, the automobile industries will be able to implement appropriate tools and standards needed to compel everyone in the industry to consider security issues from the implementation of self-driving cars. Automated car developers need to evaluate the risk posed by digital having and develop and implement effective cybersecurity strategies to protect the car’s network system.

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Given that self-driving cars have a potential loss of privacy, the vehicles should consider adopting cross-industry collaborations between automotive engineers, mobile network operators, and Technology Companies to deliberate on how to enhance privacy in self-driving cars. These collaborations will enable the automobile industry to sign agreements with any joint controllers that will clearly describe that is permitted to access private data. Policymakers should also ensure that transportation is safer for both the passengers and road users whether driving, biking or walking. Assisted driving in self-driving cars will lead to a virtuous driving which will eventually reduce accidents and enhance human safety. Along with human safety, insurance effective insurance policies should be implemented to clearly explain who owns the risk liability in case the self-driven vehicles causes or is involved in an accident.

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