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The Ethics of Driverless Cars

Iyad Rahwan's Talk on Driverless Cars Considers Moral Challenges

— September 12, 2017 — Keynote Trends
Now that autonomous vehicles are becoming more widely available to consumers, those behind the advanced technology have moral challenges to face when developing them further -- an interesting topic that Iyad Rahwan's talk on driverless cars helps to understand.

He begins by revealing some of the data that's been collected by the Department of Transport, which shows that 35,000 people died from traffic incidents in the US last year, and 1.2 million die every year worldwide. With the advancement of driverless car technology however, this number can be significantly decreased, but it would also mean prioritizing different people's safety, depending on the scenario.

One example that Rahwan gives is a car that's lost control of its breaks, which is headed for a crosswalk that's filled with pedestrians. To avoid this, the driverless car could decide to swerve into a wall, perhaps harming the driver, but preventing the pedestrians from getting hurt. Although these scenarios aren't always this simple, the trade-offs that must be made to uphold societal values are a great topic of debate among developers and ethicists.

Throughout his talk on driverless cars, Rahwan considers various perspectives, and reveals some of the strategies that can help to solve the social dilemmas that have resulted from the evolution of this technology. Although he has no sure answer to these issues as of now, Rahwan shows that it's necessary for people to come together to discuss what's right and wrong, so that there's a greater understanding of what trade-offs must be made.