Organizers : Jean-François Bonnefon, Iyad Rahwan, Azim Shariff
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to drastically decrease road fatalities, to reduce pollution, and to save enormous amounts of time for road users. While the technology for automated driving is advancing rapidly, there is an increasing recognition that not all challenges of automated driving are technical in nature. Among the most pressing of these challenges is to address the ethical implications of the algorithms that will govern self-driving cars, as well as their impact on the adoption and acceptance of automated driving.
The most publicized example of the ethical implications of automated driving is based on the famous Trolley Problem. If a self-driving car detects that it is about to kill 10 pedestrians, and if the only option to save these pedestrians is to sacrifice itself and kill its two passengers, what should the car do? This dilemma has captured the attention of the media, and has been discussed in hundreds of press articles in the last 12 months, maybe because it crystallizes the fears that consumers experience when thinking of putting their lives in the hands of machines, and letting these machines decide autonomously who should live and who should die.
While the Trolley Problem has certainly raised public awareness of the ethics of automated driving, it is only really the tip of the iceberg. Academics, car makers and regulators across the world are currently grappling with many other ethical problems which are not as immediately understandable, but which will need to be solved if automated vehicles are to fulfill their promises. One obstacle for the integration of this research is that it is scattered across many fields of social and computer science, and that there is currently no venue that would allow key players to share their insights and projects. We propose to take a step toward solving this problem by convening a workshop on the ethics of automated vehicles at IAST. Of particular interest is figuring out the best ways in which law, public policy, ethics, psychology, and design can complement each other to produce a trustworthy system of autonomous driving.