SR article

Would you use a self-driving car?

How great will it be to have self-driving cars. A car who brings your everywhere without touching the steering wheel. The notification in the app Pokemon Go 'Do not play Pokemon Go while driving' becomes unnecessary. You can catch every Pokemon which cross your way. Also working on your way to the office or appointment is one of the big advantages of a self-driving car. Tesla predict self-driving cars will be available in 2020. But how does the car responds if a child cross the street unexpectedly.

pokemon go

At this moment self-driving cars ain’t seen in daily life. The technology side is developing very fast. So this isn't an issue why we don’t see self-driving cars yet. From the technology view, you could say this is an innovation. However calling it a responsible innovation is an open discussion.

The ethical part of the self-driving car is in my opinion a more difficult part to innovate. The car needs to operate independent of human control. However to it isn’t possible to give the car a sense and mind. To solve this problem, car manufacturers needs to define, for each situation which may occur, how the car would respond. For many situations this isn't hard to define, but some situation are more complex. Drive against the child who cross the street unexpected, or dodge the child and hit a tree. Would you save a child’s life by putting your own life in danger? How can anyone make such a decision? And would you trust this decision?

In the problem of the unexpectedly crossing child, 2 solutions are possible. Both solutions have many disadvantages. For myself it looks like a trolley problem which means you need to choose between two bad options. The discussion which one of the solutions the car manufactures need to implement in the self-driving car, shall take an infinite time.

An another view to the ethical aspect of the self-driving car is the question: “Would you use a self-driving car?” For this view it doesn’t matter which solution the car manufactures choose. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a self-driving car. The idea that there is a hazard to kill a child or getting your own life into danger, gives this unsafe feeling. This opinion I notice a lot in my surroundings. The feeling to be more unsafe in a self-driving car isn’t based on facts. Self-driving cars have the potential to be more safe then the current cars controlled by human. This unsafe feeling is a result that human don’t trust the technology. The technology is so complex, most of the humans have no clue how it’s working. To give the control of the car to something complex and unknown is the cause of the unsafe feeling.

A second reason why people feel less comfortable in a self-driving car is all possible situations needs to be describe before. Also people discuss more about the possible accidents then with the currents car. Nowadays people don’t discuss so much about all situations with may occur inclusive all the bad ones.

Because the many discussions people have about self-driving cars, they associate the self-driving cars with an unsafe and less comfortable feeling. For this reason it’s hard to call it a responsible innovation. In my opinion something isn’t a responsible innovation if a big part of the society isn’t going to use it. So the notification “Do not play Pokemon go while driving” will still show up for many years.