Ethical Issues in Driverless Cars
Table of content
Furlan, Cabigiosu, and Camuffo (2014) argue that technological changes in the past decade have brought numerous transformations in the lives of people in different aspects. In the early 1960s, the idea of the driverless car was considered as an interesting idea to be implemented by mechanics. However, companies such as Tesla have been able to develop the driverless cars. This enhancement in the industry has however raised ethical concerns on the issue revolving around the driverless cars. Taking this into account, this paper focuses on a conceptual analysis of the ethical issues surrounding driverless cars. As such, the paper discusses the ethical analysis and the code of ethics upheld by different organisations regarding the case of developing automated cars and the control systems used in governing the cars.
Irrespective of the fact that there are a variety of benefits of driverless cars, there are as well ethical considerations that need to be taken into consideration. As elucidated by Maurer and Winner (2016), the precise calculations that are made by driverless cars have been useful in saving lives since human error has been blamed for the death as a result of accidents. Nonetheless, there is ethical issue involved with the automated vehicles. For instance, in cases of an accident, who should be deemed responsible, does the car company needs to take responsibility for the accident? Is the software application the one to blame or the driver is liable? As such, one of the issues is that it is difficult to ascertain the main algorithm that is used for avoidance of an accident. Besides, the drivers as well may not be in a position to distinguish the expectations that are required of them when a decision on the accidents is faced. The ethical issue of what is known and not known involves a dilemma such that when an accident occurs, the case of negligence of the driver is vague since there is lack of a standard position that the driver stands.
Secondly, the organisations involved in the manufacture and processing of automatic vehicles are obligated to ensure that their franchises are secured. In this consideration, the companies will be forced to hire individual mechanics with the knowledge on the development of the automatic vehicles. In light of this, Goodall (2014) adduces that the mechanics should be able to understand the operation and the manufacturing of automatic vehicles. The ethical issue in this regard is the increasing cases of loss of jobs. Moreover, there will be a reduced need for drivers and hence add to the burden of the loss of jobs in the community. The other ethical issue is on the financial resources that will be needed for the development of an innovated infrastructure. This is attributed to the fact that the government will need to develop roads and highways that can accommodate the normal cars as well as the driverless cars. Moreover, there will be a financial need for the building of the cars as well as for the provision of the technology.
The stakeholders in the three ethical issues can be enumerated as the government, the drivers, the community, the auto companies, and the mechanics. In relation to the ethical issue of the loss of jobs, drivers who are currently working as drivers for non-automatic vehicles are put in a position that compromises their standard of living due to the reduction in their income. Along these lines, the drivers may appreciate the availability of a software application to help in driving cars and hence reducing the risks of accidents but are in dilemma for their losses. On the other hand, the community that makes use of vehicles in their day to day operations is appreciative on the invention but there are ethical issues in relation to the cost of using the available modes of automatic vehicles.
The government has an obligation of ensuring that the services that are offered in the transport industry are delivered in the right way to the community. However, Lin (2016) asserts that there are countries like the United States of America that have specific law necessitates an individual should be in control of their vehicle. As such, the government is tasked with deciding on issues such as motivating the manufacturers of driverless cars or should it motivate the companies to manufacture more cars requiring drivers to help in improving the employment rates of the people. Furthermore, the mechanics with the knowledge of the operation of the software application installed in the driverless cars are tasked with a responsibility of eliminating the others in their work capacity. As such, their employment is dependent on unemployment of the other individuals without knowledge of the complex operation of driverless cars.
The auto companies as well are tasked with the decision making regarding the teaching of communities on the operation of driverless cars. As such, the auto companies rustle with the idea of focusing on their revenue improvement or training users on the complexities and operation of the cars. Furthermore, the auto companies are tasked with the dilemma of deciding on who should be employed and who can be unemployed. This is an ethical issue regarding the employments and job availability for the operators. Furthermore, the organisation tussles with the fact that there is individual driver who will be unemployed as a result of their innovation. Nonetheless, the companies are obligated to follow the advancement in technology and hence take on with the manufacturing of driverless cars. On the other hand, the government takes the decision of allocating resources for the development of roads and highways to accommodate the driverless and the normal cars to operate. Moreover, the community, drivers, and mechanics are obligated to take the initiative of learning on the new technology for reducing the cases of accidents.
The auto companies have the obligation of adhering to the technological advancements including the use of driverless cars. The Manufacturing of driverless vehicles by companies like Tesla is an ethical principle that is referred to as deontology. As elucidated by Reynolds (2003), the deontological view means that the there is a difference between what is right and what is wrong and does not lead to the change in the consequences. As such, the decision of the auto companies to develop the driverless cars will help in increasing the revenue of the organisation as well as the helping in reducing the number of accidents involving cars that are not driverless. The companies as well have used the relativism. In this regard, the companies have made the decision of following the process of developing the cars to help in improving the revenue. In regard to the employment of drivers and mechanics, the companies consider that there no single ethical truth and hence each of the undertakings is considerably true.
On the other hand, the government has used the view of justice ethics and hence ensures that the alternative that is taken allows the parties involved to have equal benefits as well as the risks. The government as well makes use of universalism and hence there is a single truth and taking the initiative of developing the infrastructure is one way of ensuring that the community and the companies benefit from the decision made. Furthermore, the government has employed the view of ethical pluralism. In this consideration, the government has made a decision on varying views and pressure from different viewpoints among the community and companies. Regarding the drivers and the mechanics, the view used is on virtue ethics where the focus is mainly on the individual actors as well as the character traits of the actors. From the analysis, it can be deduced that the companies are right in their view. As such, the considerations made may not be ethically correct but are considered as the contingencies.
The ethical issue in the case of jobs that are lost by the mechanics and the drivers is one of the critical issues that should be taken into consideration before the final decision to fully adopt the driverless cars. Personally, the issues can be resolved by having the view of justice ethics. As such, there is a need for consideration of the fairness regarding the organisation revenue that will be earned, the percentage of reduction of accidents and the level of standards of living of the drivers and the mechanics. In relation to the issues on the logical understanding of the way that the driverless vehicles operate, the view taken is on relativism. As depicted by Reynolds (2003), relativism view eludes to the fact that there is no single ethical truth. As such, the process of making a decision on the software application’s logical operation supports the necessity for one to consider all the available options before making a conclusion.
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) upholds a variety of ethical conduct behaviours that are followed by the employees in the organisation. As such, the organisation has a responsibility of ensuring that there is a peaceful coexistence of the community and the body. In this consideration, as a professional, the members are obligated to act in a professional manner while undertaking different actions that affect the clients, employer and the employee. This implies that the members of the body will always act in accordance with the interests of the clients as well as the employees. Moreover, the community is taken into consideration while making a decision on conducting the different actions. Furthermore, the members of the body are obligated to act diligently and aim at making improvements on the quality of life of the affected people. In regard to the use of automated vehicles and control systems governing them, the industrial body views it as a way of improving the quality of life of the affected individuals as well as an enhancement to the professional development.
On the other hand, the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) could render an evaluation on the use of automated vehicles as well as the control systems governing them as well in the view that the actions of the process should not affect the others. As elucidated by Wolf (2016), the group upholds that one of the codes of conduct that should be respected is avoiding harm to others in any of the actions of the members. In addition, the groups support that there is a need for clients, to be honest and trustworthy in the actions during their operations. Along these lines, there is a need for all the stakeholders affected by the manufacturing of the new driverless cars should be well informed of the repercussion of the actions as well as the advantages that are foreseen. Besides, the body argues that the other code of conduct that is upheld is the need for all members to be fair and avoid any discrimination.
The other international group that is considered is the British Computer Society (BCS). O’Leary (2016) argues that the code of conduct of British Computer Society (BCS) is a professional standard that is necessary for all the members to uphold and is applicable to members in all positions. One of the codes of ethics that is upheld in the organisation is the requirement of developing a professional knowledge and ensuring that there are respect and value for the available differing points of view. Along these lines, it can be deduced that the organisation could render that the use of automated cars and the control systems governing them should improve the knowledge of the members and should not affect the living standard of others. Furthermore, the implementation should have minimal cases of conflicts.
The major similarity between the three ethical codes of conducts for the three organizations is that all the organisations take into consideration the impacts of their actions on the quality of life of the affected clients. As such, the actions that are undertaken should not affect the quality of life of the employees or the employers. Moreover, the actions undertaken by all the organisations uphold the fact that the knowledge of its members should be improved. Nonetheless, there are differences between the ethical codes of conduct of Australian Computer Society (ACS), Association for Computer Machinery (ACM), and British Computer Society (BCS). Although British Computer Society (BCS) supports the improvement of knowledge of its members, it is worth mentioning that the organisation further requires that the members are needed to undertake an activity for developing their profession. On the other hand, Australian Computer Society (ACS) takes the initiative of allowing the members to create the necessary awareness regarding their actions and hence allowing the members of the community to have knowledge on the different aspects of the operation. These differences are attributed to the different standard of services that are offered by organisations as well as the differences in goals and missions for each of the organisation.
In conclusion, it is deducible that technological advancements have brought features that have been useful in the car manufacturing industries. As such, there have been enhancements that include the development of driverless cars. However, this has called for different ethical questions. From the discussion, the ethical issues that have been nominated include the fact that there are cases of loss of jobs by the mechanics as a result of the need for companies to employee mechanics with knowledge in the complex operation of the automated cars. Moreover, drivers are affected due to the introduction of the cars. The other ethical issue put forth is the lack of enough knowledge on the operation of the driverless cars. In addition, the ethical issue of the necessary financial resources is as well critical. As such, the companies tussle with the idea of making use of resources available to develop new models. The companies using the idea of relativism is considered correct in the ethical issue on deciding between the implementation of automated cars could be beneficial.
Furlan, A., Cabigiosu, A., & Camuffo, A. (2014) When the mirror gets misted up: Modularity and technological change. Strategic Management Journal, 35(6), 789-807.
Goodall, N. J. (2014) Machine ethics and automated vehicles. In Road vehicle automation (pp. 93-102). Springer International Publishing.
Lin, P. (2016) Why ethics matters for autonomous cars. In Autonomous Driving (pp. 69-85). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Maurer, M., & Winner, H. (2016) Autonomous driving: technical, legal and social aspects. Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated.
O’Leary, D. E. (2016) Ethics for Big Data and Analytics. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 31(4), 81-84.
Reynolds, G. (2003) Ethics in Information Technology, Thompson Course Technology, Boston, Ma.
Wolf, M. J. (2016) The ACM code of ethics: a call to action. Communications of the ACM, 59(12), 6-6.
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