The ethics of self reliant technology

Specifically self driving cars…

There has always been a futuristic and ambitious idea of autonomous vehicles. All the way back in 1925 a company called Houdina Radio Control Company even experimented with driverless cars by demonstrating to the public a car that was seemingly driving by itself. Even though it was being controlled by remote from someone in the car behind it, it was a step forward into this revolutionary technology. Cut to the present and driverless cars are closer to becoming mainstream on our roads. Companies like Uber and Google are already utilising this technology and transforming this idea. Uber created its Advanced Technology Center where it is developing driverless cars. These companies and supporters have grand ideas for this technology, including the way it will change transportation itself.

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Google’s goal is to increase car utilisation from 5-10% to 75% or more by promoting sharing which means fewer cars on the road [Investopia]. Robin Chase, founder and CEO of Buzzcar, which is a car sharing service says that ‘this has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of cars on the street, 80% of which have people driving alone in them’. So if this idea worked, ideally people wouldn’t be using their own cars or owning cars but rather using these shared (driverless) cars, therefore lowering the household costs of owning a car. There is also a larger picture with other aspects to consider. With fewer cars around -in this scenario- car parks and spaces that cover a large amount of land can be adapted for different purposes including real estate or more green areas. Long distance driving even…imagine being able to read a book or even sleep and being transported from one city to another.

All supporters and innovators have high hopes for self driving vehicles and believe that they could be on our roads very soon [Mckinsey], however I plan on exploring the other side to this. Is this technology ready? Or are even we ready for it? All of these explanations trying to sell this idea come with questions. There is this positive utopian view of how things can be but then compared to a dystopian idea of what could go wrong. In many pop culture ideas of the future it is fascinating to see what has been predicted but there is also this detriment and fear of these future technologies. Almost 30 years ago the 1990 film ‘Total Recall’ made me think of this. Look at this scene with the Johnny Cabs…

I was scrolling through Twitter one day and saw a headline that a woman was killed by a

self driving car. IMG_4628

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This made me think of all kinds of questions and ethics related to this and because of this situation many others as well have had these questions. Do we really need cars to drive for us? Who is responsible for her death? If something went wrong, or if there is a system error as we all know in computers and networks that there is a chance of this, what are the consequences? And can laws keep up? This also can affect a lot of industries and people but would it just be a negative for them and a benefit to the rest of society? Here’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s (2005) showing automation… a small little scene that sort of represents ‘technology’ taking over.

 

What I plan for my final project is to delve quite deep into this topic with a lot of investigative research. With the current situation of Uber suspending its automatic driving testing there will be a lot of information out there and opinions. For my Digital Artefact, I plan on going a little out of my comfort zone and doing a Podcast. The podcast will look at 2 sides, the positive and ambitious side to this. What the future could look like if things went right. Also the negative and how this idea might not work. How the podcast will be structured yet I’m not sure, this idea is quite early stages and could be changed to something else but an idea would be to structure it like a debate and have listeners deciding for themselves if they would be for it or against it with the detailed information I provide.

References:

Nguyen, T. (2018). How a 1930’s Exhibit Set the Stage For Driverless Cars. [online] ThoughtCo. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-self-driving-cars-4117191

Knight, W. (Oct, 2016). When will Uber actually ditch drivers for algorithms?. [online] MIT Technology Review. Available at: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602492/what-to-know-before-you-get-in-a-self-driving-car/

Dallegro, J. (2016). How Google’s Self-Driving Car Will Change Everything. [online] Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/052014/how-googles-selfdriving-car-will-change-everything.asp

Dundon, T. and Howcroft, D. (Jan, 2018). Automation, robots and the ‘end of work’ myth. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/automation-robots-and-the-end-of-work-myth-89619

Ten, N. (2018). First fatality from self-driving vehicle. [online] TenPlay. Available at: https://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/top-stories-march-2018/first-fatality-from-self-driving-vehicle.

ABC News. (2018). Autonomous Uber vehicle kills woman pushing bike across street. [online] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-20/uber-suspends-self-driving-car-tests-after-fatal-crash/9565586.

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