As we move closer to the advent of self-driving cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) across the globe, it's easy to get caught up in the fervor and excitement of this techo-social movement. However, the application of this technology to the daily lives of drivers also comes with a hefty dose of moral and ethical implications.
To this end, the German government has blazed a new trail and become the first nation in the world to offer up official ethical guidelines for the development – and implementation – of driverless automotive technology. From this point, the goal is naturally to initiate a change at both the federal level and to offer up a road map for other countries that are also grappling with the inherent concerns of this technology.
So what exactly do these accords and ethical codes issued by the men and women within the Reichstag cover? According to Brad Bergan and Patrick Caughill of Futurism, the 15 rules laid out by the German government call for software developers, artificial intelligence (A.I.) researchers, and manufacturers alike to place a priority on the well-being of humans, as well as safeguard safety, human dignity, personal freedom of choice, and data autonomy.
In other words, everything from prioritizing the lives of passengers over wayward squirrels and other roadway hazards to upholding transparency and ethical operational practices in regard to the allocation, storage, and utilization of vast amounts of user data all fall under the purview of the document released by Professor Udo Di Fabio and the rest of the German Ministry of Transportation and Digital Infrastructure's Ethics Commission.
Naturally, we're still firmly in the infancy of self-driving vehicle development and adoption on the global scale and these protocols are merely guidelines and not official law. Even so, it's hard not to see such an expansive response to the various dilemmas facing the growth of self-driving vehicles by such a substantial international body as anything but a positive step forward.
Interested in digging deeper into the discussion surrounding Germany's new self-driving car ethics guidelines? Then give the link below a click for the full story from Bergan and Caughill, or check out the official release from the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure here.