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
- Tesla reportedly removing paid-for features after used-car saleson March 23, 2020 at 6:23 am
Jalopnik has run a couple of interesting stories on the experiences a number of people have had after buying used Teslas. It started last month with a story on a man named Alec, who bought a used 2017 ...
- How General Motors is testing its self-driving cars after the pandemic forced its vehicle fleet off California roadson March 21, 2020 at 6:04 am
"Before our car hits the pavement, it's already driven thousands of miles," according to Cruise's Head of Simulation Tom Boyd.
- Bigger Screens, Smaller AI: What CES 2020 Told Us About the Future of Carson March 21, 2020 at 6:00 am
I hate auto shows. Cars are meant to move, make noise and be felt. Seeing a Bugatti caged on an auto-show stand is worse than watching a lion at a particularly cruel zoo. At least you get some sense ...
- Alphabet self-driving car company Waymo suspends all driving operations in Phoenix and Detroit, internal memos showon March 20, 2020 at 7:15 pm
Alphabet's self-driving company previously said it temporarily paused its Waymo One rider service in Metro Phoenix while keeping driverless rides and some driver testing.
- Waymo gamifies self-driving car data and wants everyone involvedon March 20, 2020 at 11:57 am
Waymo expands its Open Dataset program and issues some challenges that may result in prize money. Waymo is calling all intrigued minds to partake in an Open Dataset challenge, and it could result in ...
- The Truth Is That Traffic Lights Won’t Be Shelved Due To Self-Driving Carson March 20, 2020 at 8:24 am
It is a bit of a miracle that each day we drive around and encounter traffic signals that by the mere act of shining a light of differing colors, including a red light, gets us to all come to a ...
- Voluntary Temporary Suspensions Of Self-Driving Car Roadway Tryouts Due To Coronavirus Have Added Payoffson March 19, 2020 at 6:58 pm
Many of the major self-driving car roadway public tryouts that are taking place on our highways and byways are temporarily being suspended on a voluntary basis by notable automakers and self-driving ...
- Self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski pleads guilty to stealing Google trade secretson March 19, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Anthony Levandowski, the self-driving car engineer and former Google executive who joined Uber via an acquisition of his autonomous truck company Otto, has agreed to plead guilty to stealing Google ...
- Apple's New iPad Is a Lot Like a Self-Driving Caron March 19, 2020 at 5:17 pm
Rumors have been circling over Apple's next iPhone and iPad designs, which the company appears to have accidentally leaked in the beta code for iOS 14. Among the new devices are a budget iPhone, new ...
- Coronavirus shows there’s still no such thing as a totally human-free self-driving caron March 18, 2020 at 11:57 am
The decision by most companies to suspend AV testing during the outbreak is causing turmoil among human backup drivers Autonomous vehicles were supposed to make human drivers obsolete. But the ...
via Bing News