TECH Q. DISCUSSION:

Driverless cars are here. Would you ride or refuse?

Driverless car technology is here. If the opportunity presented itself, would you Go for a Ride or Refuse, No Thanks? Why? What informs your answer?

A benefit: “Researchers estimate that driverless cars could, by midcentury, reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90 percent. Which means that, using the number of fatalities in 2013 as a baseline, self-driving cars could save 29,447 lives a year. In the United States alone, that’s nearly 300,000 fatalities prevented over the course of a decade, and 1.5 million lives saved in a half-century. For context: Anti-smoking efforts saved 8 million lives in the United States over a 50-year period. The life-saving estimates for driverless cars are on par with the efficacy of modern vaccines, which save 42,000 lives for each U.S. birth cohort, according to the Centers for Disease Control.” LaFrance, Adrienne. “Self-Driving Cars Could Save 300,000 Lives Per Decade in America.” 29 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Web. 24 May 2017.

But at what cost? Something to consider: “Autonomous vehicles (AVs) should reduce traffic accidents, but they will sometimes have to choose between two evils, such as running over pedestrians or sacrificing themselves and their passenger to save the pedestrians. Defining the algorithms that will help AVs make these moral decisions is a formidable challenge.” Bonnefon, Jean-François, Azim Shariff, and Iyad Rahwan. “The Social Dilemma of Autonomous Vehicles.” Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 24 June 2016. Web. 24 May 2017.

One response to “Driverless cars are here. Would you ride or refuse?

  1. I would definitely “RIDE.” I value my time and peace of mind, and often turn to technology for pathways (or shortcuts) to both. As I imagine being chauffeured to/fro work, I imagine reading more books, taking in more of the landscape I traverse through daily, and perhaps even generating original works of my own. That said, I’m not sure I need to be an early adopter (or as I told my son, “crash test dummy”) on this one. Last year, I was involved in a minor accident while riding in an Uber, and it was revealing. The driver ceased to represent Uber and instead was an independent contractor (and in the moment, became a very scared human to the point of inaction.) There was no corporation that came to the rescue. I’m curious as to how the technology will impact: (1) insurance regulations (in the case of an accident, who is at fault? car manufacturer or passenger); (2) federal/state legislation (do you need to have a driver’s license to operate? or be of a certain age); (3) safety, namely hacking. We’ll see.

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