Legal and ethical challenges of self-driving cars

Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is set to change the world, and it is already doing so in multiple ways. Self-driving cars are one such revolutionary technology. However, there are still some challenges, ethical and legal, to be addressed.

A Survey of Ethical and Legal Challenges to self-driving cars

First, let’s consider the ethical challenges to smart self-driving cars:

1. Safety considerations

Self-driving cars mean that A.I. driving them must make complex calculations in a split second. While humans can make such calculations, mostly correctly and instinctively, the system is harder for machines. Further algorithms must also make judgements such as choosing between the safety of its occupants versus the safety of its pedestrians in cases where such choices become inevitable. The choice of ethical properties that gets coded into algorithms must be made after careful consideration.

2. Loss of jobs

Self-driving cars may also put many people out of their present jobs.

3. Affordability

Self-driving cars are expensive at the moment. Making them affordable for people around the world will remain a priority consideration sot hat they’re not merely luxuries.

4. Accessibility

Self-driving cars have a big advantage in that they might be more accessible to people with disabilities, elderly or other people who may be unable to drive. However, some additional accessibility features must be built in to ensure that those at such disadvantages can use these vehicles.

5. Mixed traffic environment

Self-driving cars won’t make human-driven cars disappear all at once, and there shall be mixed traffic. The algorithms must thus be able to predict human behaviour, which is rather unpredictable by nature. How algorithms respond to unexpected actions of human drivers remains a strong ethical issue.

6. Cybersecurity

Self-driving cars, like all digital technologies, are liable to be hacked. So cybersecurity concerns relating to them have to be addressed.

Now let us look at legal issues relating to self-driving cars:

1. Liability and responsibility in case of accidents

Unlike traditional cars, self-driving cars may need a different system for establishing moral responsibility in case of accidents. Apart from the occupant, the software and hardware developers may also become responsible.

2. Privacy and security

Self-driving cars also collect a remarkable amount of data. The privacy and security concerns relating to this data must also be fully addressed. Laws must be made by national governments and international organisations.

3. Legal Framework and Standardisation

Much like any other industry, rules and regulations for regulating self-driving technologies shall have to be established.

4. Quality standardisation

Standards for quality for both hardware and software must be established.

These ethical and legal challenges need to be addressed as they become more prevalent in society. Also, observe that ethical and moral issues are not mutually exclusive but often overlap

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s)

There are several questions the reader may have about legal and ethical challenges pertaining to self-driving cars. The following are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s) :

Question: How can these challenges be addressed?

Answer: Laws will have to be made by concerned governments and international organisations after consulting various industry stakeholders. As for other ethical considerations, they must be addressed through open and transparent discussions and setting clear priorities in a way that aligns with the prerequisites of social justice.

Question: What are some of the benefits of self-driving cars?

Answer: The following are some of the potential benefits of self-driving cars:

  • It may increase the safety on the road and reduce accidents and fatalities.
  • It may increase the accessibility and mobility of people with disabilities.
  • It may reduce traffic congestion and improve traffic flow.
  • It may increase the efficiency of fuel consumption
  • May optimise parking space utilisation
  • It may make cars more eco-friendly.

Question: What is the future of self-driving cars in India?

Answer: self-driving cars are still to find their first footing in India, and it faces unique challenges such as uneven, unplanned and inconsistent roads, heavy traffic and irregular driving habits. That said, the future of self-driving cars is considered bright, given that the country has one of the largest automobile markets in the world, and the population has proven itself capable of being good at adopting modern technologies.

Question: Tell me the history of self-driving cars briefly.

Answer: The idea of self-driving cars is about a century old now, being first introduced in the 1920s. Yet, it is only in the last twenty years that the idea has started coming to fruition thanks to extensive research and development of A.I. technologies for the purpose. Today, the first models of commercially produced self-driving cars are already hitting the market.

If the reader has any other questions, they should feel free to ask them here.

The Bottom Line

One can easily wrap up the above discussion by concluding that self-driving cars are a technology that might change the automobile industry forever and have valuable benefits to offer. Still, various challenges relating to them, both legal and ethical, must first be addressed.