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How Should Autonomous Vehicles Make Moral Decisions? Machine Ethics, Artificial Driving Intelligence, and Crash Algorithms.

1. Introduction

Autonomous vehicles constitute an essential disruptor in the subsequent technology upheaval, but the chief obstacle to acceptance is the absence of public trust. (Kaur and Rampersad, 2018) Driverless cars will confront inevitable crashes, and the algorithms in the means of transport's on-board computers will bring about some innocent individual being chosen as the injured party of the collision. (Cowger, 2018) A significant amount of robotic agents will be introduced into a sphere of human activity where the risk factors are considerable whenever there are accidents. (Nyholm and Smids, 2018)

2. Conceptual Framework and Literature Review

The capacity of the autonomous vehicles to satisfy performance requirements and their soundness represent relevant adoption drivers. (Kaur and Rampersad, 2018) Driverless cars advance innovative routes for transportability and have economic and societal upsides, but there are controversies as to the degree of their strong points and their casual ramifications. (Taeihagh and Lim, 2019) The broad proliferation of driverless cars will cause hybrid traffic, encompassing both autonomous vehicles and conventional ones, the former seemingly featuring various levels and kinds of automation, being configured to operate in optimizing manners, and being inflexible rule-followers. (Nyholm and Smids, 2018)

3. Methodology and Empirical Analysis

Building my argument by drawing on data collected from AUVSI, Ipsos, Nature, Pew Research Center, Perkins Coie, Statista, and YouGov, I performed analyses and made estimates regarding U.S. adults who say they would/would not want to ride in a driverless vehicle (%), statements closest to international drivers' opinion (I am in favor of self-driving cars and cannot wait to use them/I am unsure about self-driving cars, but I find the idea interesting/I am against self-driving cars and would never use them), U.S. adults that would feel (un)safe as a pedestrian in a city with self-driving cars (%), countries that are most prepared for autonomous vehicles (policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance), and the top data infrastructure requirements in smart cities to facilitate autonomous vehicle testing (wireless connectivity to other cars, parking meters, traffic lights and other smart infrastructure, wireless connectivity to nearby towers/antennas, and data centers to perform analytics on large volumes of data received from vehicles). The data for this research were gathered via an online survey questionnaire and were analyzed through structural equation modeling on a sample of 5,400 respondents.

4. Results and Discussion

As fully driverless cars have not been advanced, their efficiency is hard to forecast. (Kaur and Rampersad, 2018) Autonomous vehicle-related safety threats may occur from the hardly vigilant attitude of car occupants and road users, system flaws, and the absence of standardization of crash algorithms that influence life or death circumstances throughout unavoidable accidents. (Taeihagh and Lim, 2019) As humans drive in a reasonable manner, and are adjustable rule-benders, hybrid traffic will result in diverse human-robot harmonization concerns, which may lead to unpredictable situations and cause crashes and accidents. (Nyholm and Smids, 2018) (Tables 1-6)

5. Conclusions and Implications

The crash algorithms of self-driving vehicles should curtail social harm. (Coca-Vila, 2018) Even in a flawlessly conceived and completely failureproof self-driving system (Carter and Yeo, 2018; Chessell, 2018; Jouet, 2018; Katz, 2018; Lazaroiu, 2018; Lukasik et al., 2017; Moser, 2017; Nica, 2018; Pilkington, 2018; Popescu Ljungholm, 2018; Popescu, 2018; Smith and Stirling, 2018), some collisions will be inevitable, especially as autonomous cars will be set in motion together with means of transport with human drivers, and in zones also populated by persons on foot and cyclists. (Hubner and White, 2018) As any malfunction of a component or sensor may generate a devastating accident or crash, autonomous driving should have outstanding performance preconditions. (Kaur and Rampersad, 2018)

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on an earlier version of this article.

Funding

This paper was supported by Grant GE-1267842 from the Center for Economic Performance at CSA, Canberra.

Author Contributions

The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

REFERENCES

Carter, S., and A. C.-M. Yeo (2018). "Internet-enabled Collective Intelligence as a Precursor and Predictor of Consumer Behaviour," Economics, Management, and Financial Markets 13(4): 11-38.

Chessell, D. (2018). "The Jobless Economy in a Post-Work Society: How Automation Will Transform the Labor Market," Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management 6(2): 74-79.

Coca-Vila, I. (2018). "Self-driving Cars in Dilemmatic Situations: An Approach Based on the Theory of Justification in Criminal Law," Criminal Law and Philosophy 12(1): 59-82.

Cowger, A. R., Jr. (2018). "Liability Considerations when Autonomous Vehicles Choose the Accident Victim," Journal of High Technology Law XIX(1): 1-60.

Jouet, J. (2018). "Digital Feminism: Questioning the Renewal of Activism," Journal of Research in Gender Studies 8(1): 133-157.

Hubner, D., and L. White (2018). "Crash Algorithms for Autonomous Cars: How the Trolley Problem Can Move Us Beyond Harm Minimisation," Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21(3): 685-698.

Katz, L. (2018). "Dark Dreams and Malign Creativity," Knowledge Cultures 6(2): 64-75.

Kaur, K., and G. Rampersad (2018). "Trust in Driverless Cars: Investigating Key Factors Influencing the Adoption of Driverless Cars," Journal of Engineering and Technology Management 48: 87-96.

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Lukasik, Z., A. Kusminska-Fijalkowska, J. Kozyra, and S. Olszanska (2017). "Evolution of Costs in the Activity of a Transport Company Operating within the European Union," Ekonomicko-manazerske spektrum 11(2): 53-63.

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Nica, E. (2018). "Will Robots Take the Jobs of Human Workers? Disruptive Technologies that May Bring About Jobless Growth and Enduring Mass Unemployment," Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management 6(2): 56-61.

Nyholm, S., and J. Smids (2018). "Automated Cars Meet Human Drivers: Responsible Human-Robot Coordination and the Ethics of Mixed Traffic," Ethics and Information Technology. doi: 10.1007/s10676-018-9445-9

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Michael Rowthorn

m.rowthorn@aa-er.org

The Center for Labor Research and Education

at AAER, Chicago, IL, USA

How to cite: Rowthorn, Michael (2019). "How Should Autonomous Vehicles Make Moral Decisions? Machine Ethics, Artificial Driving Intelligence, and Crash Algorithms," Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 11(1): 9-14. doi:10.22381/CRLSJ11120191

Received 2 March 2019 * Received in revised form 10 July 2019

Accepted 12 July 2019 * Available online 15 July 2019
Table 1 Statements closest to international drivers' opinion

               I am in favor      I am unsure about     I am against
               of self-driving    self driving cars,    self driving
               cars and can't     but I find the idea   cars and would
               wait to use them   interesting           never use them

Argentina      20                 68                    12
Belgium        26                 57                    17
Mexico         28                 56                    14
Poland         21                 66                    13
Russia         22                 68                    10
Saudi Arabia   23                 64                    13
South Africa   27                 56                    17
South Korea    20                 61                    19
Sweden         24                 56                    20
Turkey         27                 57                    16
Hungary        23                 64                    13
Australia      20                 66                    14
Brazil         21                 60                    19
Canada         29                 53                    18
China          24                 65                    11
France         26                 62                    12
Germany        23                 60                    17
Great Britain  20                 70                    10
India          24                 64                    12
Italy          28                 56                    16
Japan          23                 59                    18
Spain          24                 62                    14
United States  29                 58                    13
Peru           21                 62                    17
Chile          20                 69                    11
Colombia       27                 60                    13
Malaysia       28                 54                    18
Serbia         22                 67                    11

Sources: Ipsos; my survey among 23,800 individuals conducted December
2018.

Table 2 % of U.S. adults that would feel (un)safe as a pedestrian in a
city with self-driving cars

                 18-24  25-34  35-44  45-54  55+

Very safe        17     15     12      9      5
Somewhat safe    35     31     25     20     16
Somewhat unsafe  34     37     41     44     47
Very unsafe      14     17     22     27     32

Sources: YouGov; Statista; my survey among 5,400 individuals conducted
December 2018.

Table 3 Countries that are most prepared for autonomous vehicles

Country               Policy and   Technology and  Infrastructure
                      legislation  innovation

The Netherlands       9            8               11
Singapore             9            7                9
United States         8            9                8
Sweden                8            8                7
United Kingdom        8            7                7
Germany               9            8                7
Canada                9            6                7
United Arab Emirates  8            6                8
New Zealand           9            6                7
South Korea           8            6                9
Japan                 8            7               10
Austria               9            5                8
France                8            6                8
Australia             8            5                8
Spain                 7            4                7
China                 6            4                7
Brazil                3            3                5
Russia                5            1                3
Mexico                3            2                5
India                 4            1                6

Country               Consumer
                      acceptance

The Netherlands       9
Singapore             9
United States         8
Sweden                7
United Kingdom        8
Germany               6
Canada                8
United Arab Emirates  7
New Zealand           8
South Korea           7
Japan                 5
Austria               7
France                7
Australia             7
Spain                 5
China                 5
Brazil                7
Russia                4
Mexico                4
India                 3

Sources: Nature; my 2019 data.

Table 4 Please select whether federal or state regulatory authorities
are more likely to have oversight responsibilities for each of the
following tasks

                                      Federal        State
                                      Regulators     Regulators

Design, construction and performance  79             21
of autonomous vehicles
Licensing                             40             60
Training                              41             59
Liability issues including insurance  48             62
Traffic safety                        47             53

Sources: AUVSI; Perkins Coie; my survey among 5,400 individuals
conducted December 2018.

Table 5 The top data infrastructure requirements in smart cities to
facilitate autonomous vehicle testing

Wireless connectivity to other cars, parking meters,  64
traffic lights and other smart infrastructure
Wireless connectivity to nearby towers/antennas       59
Data centers to perform analytics on large volumes    54
of data received from vehicles

Sources: AUVSI; Perkins Coie; my survey among 5,400 individuals
conducted December 2018.

Table 6 U.S. adults who say they would/would not want to ride in a
driverless vehicle (%)

Among those who say yes, % who give these as the main reasons
Just for the experience/Think it would be cool                 32
Would be safer                                                 19
Can do other things while driving                              14
Less stressful than driving                                    11
Greater independence                                            8
Convenience                                                     7
Good for long trips                                             6
Other                                                           3
Among those who say no, % who give these as the main reasons
Don't trust it/Worried about giving up control                 38
Safety concerns                                                34
Enjoy driving                                                  11
Feel technology is not ready                                    9
Potential for hacking                                           6
Other                                                           2

Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 5,400 individuals
conducted December 2018.
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Date:Jul 1, 2019
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