Driverless cars

Computer Science Work
Jamie Tatla
The UK Government has committed to an investment in testing self-driving
cars. The hope is that one day, humans will not need to drive cars or freight
vehicles on the roads.
Discuss the ethical and moral issues and the social benefits of this, explaining
whether you would recommend further investment in this research. [12]
When it comes to self-driving cars, we have to evaluate the pros and cons as this argument
has been brought up on countless occasions worldwide, only for it to be stagnated once
more and denied, left as an aspiration of the future which never actually comes.
Self-driving cars are arguably safer than humans, removing the possibility of human error
using complicated algorithms to predict the movement around the car, for example a
pedestrian walking across the street or the cars behind and in front of it. However, the
stakeholders we are taking into account here is the entire general public which simply rely
on only leaving their house in the morning, whether it’s you walking to work or simply being
a passenger in one of these self-driving cars, you will be effected. Legally this is why
driverless cars haven’t arguably gotten the all clear. Although these driverless cars a lot
safer than humans driving, they are inevitably going to cause accidents and incidents as
things are not 100% reliable in both the computer and engineering world. In 2016, a man
from Florida was killed in the first driverless car incident made by Tesla who avoided liability
due to claims that it was the driver who should have noticed and taken back control. This
point is brought up due to the infinite amount of questions which would revolve about the
now key question of who would be to blame legally as presumed family would fight for
justice. This brings us onto the moral reasons surrounding driverless cars.
Morally and ethically, the key fact is that this is still a machine, built around lines and lines of
algorithms which eventually will execute at a speed unheard of at this present time, but the
counterargument would be that it wasn’t human. If a self-driving car would be driving at full
speed towards a crossroad where on one side is a group of school children and on the other,
a group of robbers for example, it wouldn’t know what to do; it’s not programmed to think
like that. It feels no guilt as it runs over a group of school children as it neither would
running over some robbers which in many cases is considered something to be feared. If
you were to believe that there are an infinite amount of possibilities and actions which are
all taking place in this universe then it is inevitable that this one thing would happen, sooner
or later and its morals and ethics will eventually be taken into question. A key argument
would bound to be brought up, why would we need these driverless cars, they are safer, but
they don’t think human. On the other hand however what is the difference between a plane
on autopilot which arguably carries a lot more responsibility in an accident and a self-driving
car, the technology is already there so why not use it. This brings us to the social benefits.
Now socially, it’s no doubt that benefits would be significant in today’s day of age as not
only more jobs would be created in a new sector of industry, but also it would be one step
closer towards the future, inspiring young minds with this technology they would grow up
around to think bigger which is the end goal in mine and many other people’s version of a
perfect humanity. The obvious effects would be that unburdened by fatigue, many people
would be able to drive for long periods of time without the need to stop, perhaps only to
stretch their legs. The later long term effects would be a lot more substantial as due to the
new introduction of technology, competition will grow and grow, adapting and developing
their driverless cars into something seen in such a move as ‘back to the future’, creating
another million dollar or potentially billion dollar industry. This is in turn will create more
jobs as the process loops into what might be another step for humanity into the aspirations
of the future.
To conclude, I believe that it is impossible to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs
and at the failure of that it is paramount to take into consideration the increased safety of
these cars at the expense of having perhaps no one to blame for an accident and therefore
that this investment should have been made. Although not a direct push for science, it will
allow for the adaptation of this automated technology which may be what humanity needs
to build something smarter and answer the questions we can’t. On the other hand, there
will always be an argument of trust when it comes to something in-human, basing decision
off of code that we write and which we have already established is plagued with human
error. Nevertheless I stand by my point that what we need to see is the bigger picture, and
the step towards driverless cars promotes that.