Autonomous Cars

Before the introduction to the information regarding autonomous cars, I was already relatively interested in ethics and it’s intersection with technology. However, I never really considered this specific topic but rather more “science fiction” related ideas.

We touched on a very important aspect of the sci-fi ideas surrounding artificial intelligence. We could say that most of the general population think about the Terminator or the AI from 2001: A Space Odyssey when they consider AI and its eventual response to humanity. A common belief is that AI will eventually overtake our own intelligence and decide that humanity should not exist or should exist in a different way. Will AI react the same way to humans as humans do to ants? I think this kind of fear is based on some presumptions of humanity: that we are incapable of control and that we have nothing to offer a super intelligence. I believe humans are more capable than the majority of us realize. I think it’s far more likely we will have an “enslaved god” scenario versus a “descendants” scenario. Humans will likely have complete control of it or limit it in some way before we ever let it get out of hand. While I think that, I also believe that humanity will ultimately misuse a super AI. We might use it to control the population, hurt other people, or multiply the socioeconomic inequality. Humans will also likely not become completely irrelevant to a super AI. We are more than just an intelligent species and even a super AI may see the value in humanity. However, I am an abnormally optimistic person and admit that I may put more stock in human abilities and less in doomsday ideologies.

Now regarding AI and their connection to our transportation, I thinks its less complicated than a super AI. It’s likely that for the time being and in the foreseeable future, autonomous cars will likely be run by weak AI dedicated to the singular task of transportation. While currently there are safety hiccups, those will be resolved, and we will have to deal with the more dramatic changes in our structure and society. Jobs may be further away and our homes further out from the cities. Owning a car may become less of a priority as “ride sharing” services become completely driverless and therefore cheaper. People will have more time on their hands and they may be inclined to learn new things or take on extra work. Automobile deaths will plummet, road laws may change, maintaining the road system and our city structure will adjust priorities, and parking becomes less of an issue. The local governments gain a lot of income via transportation services and property taxes may go down with the adjustments. All of these factors are influenced by the shift from driver to driverless cars. The most important thing is to consider how we deal with these things quickly enough in a world of rapid technological development. It’s likely that we will not appropriately prepare and may see a dramatic change that causes a lot of issues for individuals, businesses, and government institutions.


WOU Student CS Ethics

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