Reading 12

Topic: Self Driving Cars


Self driving cars have become a big topic of conversation in recent years as technology advances have made the possibility of their wide spread integration into society more conceivable. However, like any new technology autonomous vehicles have made been met with a good amount of controversy. Those who are proponents of self driving cars argue that they would make roads much safer. Driving is something which requires both skill and attention, and sometimes drivers do not give their full attention to the road, or are otherwise just not good enough at driving to drive safely. Drunk driving, for example, is a huge problem in America, and is something that autonomous vehicles could virtually eliminate if they were fully adopted into society. Additionally, if people did not have to spend time driving, they could use the time to be more productive, either doing work or reading a book while their car drove them to work. This could lead to huge economic benefits, because people would have more time to do things and less time wasted behind the wheel. There are, however, people who are opposed to the idea of integrating self driving cars into roads. The main issue people use to argue this point is that the technology is simply not good enough as of now to have self driving cars that meet ethical safety standards. For example, if road lines are covered, by snow or dirt, a self driving car would have a real problem determining how to stay in its lane, while a human driver would be able to use intuition to see where the road leads. Further, if a self driving car sees something it does not recognize in its neural net, such as a stop sign with a unique sticker on it, it may not be able to identify the item correctly, which could lead to crashes. I believe self driving cars would absolutely make our roads safer. I think that even if the technology is not perfect, the self driving cars most companies are producing as of now are safe enough that they could be used in extreme cases, like if you’re drunk or extremely tired, to drastically minimize the risk of an accident.


As far as social concerns surrounding self driving cars, I believe that if it came down to a situation where the car had to decide whether to either risk the lives of the passengers or an outside party, it should react in the same way a human driver would. When humans are faced with this split second decision, their reflex is always to protect themselves, so I think the car should do the same. Additionally, I would not feel comfortable getting into a car that I know is not designed to protect me in those types of situations. It also think in the case of accidents they should be examined on a case by case basis. If the situation was unavoidable, then I do not think anyone should be liable because sometimes those situations do arise. However, if the situation was avoidable then the root cause of the error in the self driving car should be discovered, and the person or company responsible for that error should be liable.


I think that self driving cars are an inevitability in America. When they eventually become widespread, I think that there will need to be a lot of laws passed to ensure that companies are making the cars as safe as possible, and standards should be put in place for both the software and the hardware inside the cars to make sure companies cannot put cars on the road that may risk lives. As far as social and economic concerns, I think self driving cars will be great for both areas of American life. Socially, people will have more time to do the things they enjoy instead of driving. Economically, people will be more productive because they can swap out their commutes for extra sleeping time or work time.


I would definitely own a self driving car, but I would not use it all the time. I think I would only use it in “easy” driving scenarios, such as a long stretch of driving on the highway. If conditions were bad, or if I was in a more densely populated area, I would probably not put as much faith in the technology and would opt to drive manually. Also, I would definitely want a Tesla, because I like that software updates can be sent to the car so the self driving technology will always be improving.