We’ve talked a lot about the ethical and programming problems currently facing those designing self driving cars. Some are less complicated, such as how to program cars to bend the rules slightly and be more more human like. Others get more complex, including whether or not cars should be programmed to kill the occupant — if it means saving a school bus full of children (aka the trolley problem). And once automated cars are commonplace, can law enforcement have access to the car’s code to automatically pull a driver over? There’s an ocean of questions we’re not really ready to answer.
But as we accelerate down the evolutionary highway of self-driving technology, the biggest question of all becomes: who gets to control this code? Will the automotive update process be transparent? Will the driver retain the ability to modify their car’s code? Will automakers adapt and stop implementing the kind of paper mache level security that has resulted in the endless parade of stories about hacked automobiles it takes five years for automakers to patch?
Trying to force the issue before there’s a hacker-induced automotive mass fatality, Ford, GM and Toyota were hit by a class action lawsuit earlier this year claiming the car companies were failing to adequately disclose the problems caused my abysmal auto security:
“Among other things, the lawsuit alleges Toyota, Ford and GM concealed or suppressed material facts concerning the safety, quality and functionality of vehicles equipped with these systems. It charges the companies with fraud, false advertising and violation of consumer protections statutes. Stanley continued, “We shouldn’t need to wait for a hacker or terrorist to prove exactly how dangerous this is before requiring car makers to fix the defect. Just as Honda has been forced to recall cars to repair potentially deadly airbags, Toyota, Ford and GM should be required to recall cars with these dangerous electronic systems.”
This month a court ruled that yes, we will have to probably wait for someone to die before automakers are held liable for lagging automotive security. The case was ultimately dismissed(pdf), the court ruling that the plaintiffs have yet to prove sufficiently concrete harms, and that potential damage (to the driver and to others) remains speculative. At the pace self-driving and smart car technology is advancing, one gets the sneaking suspicion we won’t have long to wait before harms become notably more concrete.
But however complicated these legal, ethical, and technical questions are, they become immeasurably more complicated once you realize that smart cars will ultimately form the backbone of the smart cities of tomorrow, working in concert with city infrastructure to build a living urban organism designed to be as efficient as mathematically possible. As Cory Doctorow noted last week, this makes ensuring code transparency and consumer power more important than ever:
“The major attraction of autonomous vehicles for city planners is the possibility that they’ll reduce the number of cars on the road, by changing the norm from private ownership to a kind of driverless Uber. Uber can even be seen as a dry-run for autonomous, ever-circling, point-to-point fleet vehicles in which humans stand in for the robots to come – just as globalism and competition paved the way for exploitative overseas labour arrangements that in turn led to greater automation and the elimination of workers from many industrial processes.
The Latest on: Self-driving cars
via Google News
The Latest on: Self-driving cars
- Daimler CEO says electric cars need incentives to become mainstreamon November 20, 2019 at 10:33 am
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius on Wednesday said the resulting drop in sales of electric and hybrid vehicles in China after incentives were curbed shows that they are ...
- US Probe Faults Uber, Human Error In Self-driving Car Crashon November 20, 2019 at 8:13 am
A US investigation into the death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving Uber car faulted driver inattention along with "inadequate" safety measures implemented by the company. The National ...
- SoftBank created its own robot vacuum that uses self-driving car technology and costs $500 a monthon November 20, 2019 at 7:37 am
The vacuum, called Whiz, is primarily aimed at offices. It uses LIDAR sensors, the same technology used in self-driving cars.
- Self-driving car groups face stricter safety oversighton November 20, 2019 at 6:33 am
In addition, the NHTSA was asked to establish a process for ongoing evaluation. If implemented, the recommended measures could further delay the deployment of self-driving cars, as some groups have ...
- Uber's 'ineffective safety culture' was to blame for its self-driving car killing a pedestrian last year, the NTSB foundon November 20, 2019 at 5:54 am
The National Transportation Board said the death could have been prevented with a more thorough culture at the tech giant.
- National Transportation Safety Board: driver at fault for fatal self-driving car crashon November 20, 2019 at 5:46 am
The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded its investigation into a March 2018 fatal crash involving one of Uber's self-driving cars, and it says the driver of the car is to blame, ...
- Starting 5: Democratic Debate, Impeachment, Rodney Reed, Self-Driving Cars and This Year's Grammy Nomineeson November 20, 2019 at 2:00 am
Witnesses from the National Transportation Safety Board and Department of Transport will be talking about the safe testing and rollout of autonomous, self-driving and driverless cars (and yes, those ...
- Self-driving car companies are putting technology above saving lives, NTSB warnson November 19, 2019 at 4:44 pm
The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday condemned the lack of state and federal regulation for testing autonomous vehicles before finding that a distracted human safety driver was the main ...
- U.S. oversight of self-driving cars falls short, NTSB says in review of Uber deathon November 19, 2019 at 4:31 pm
Those and other recommendations came 20 months after a self-driving Uber Volvo XC90 struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg ... The NTSB also recommended that Arizona officials should “require ...
- Autonomous Cars Can Predict How Selfish Your Driving Ison November 18, 2019 at 12:25 pm
Self-driving cars could soon be able to classify you as a selfish or altruistic driver. While this might bruise some egos, researchers from MIT CSAIL claim that this will make autonomous vehicles (AVs ...
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