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Philosophisch-ethische Rezensionen
(Erscheinungsdatum der rezensierten Bücher: 20. und 21. Jahrhundert)

David Edmonds, The future car

Edmonds discusses the pros and cons of driverless cars and ethical issues connected with it.
Here the pros:

+ Safety as the principal advance. Over a million people die in road accidents each year. Most of these deaths are due to human error. Good constructed driverless cars will disarm this problem.

+ Social benefits: Many people are socially isolated because they cannot drive a car (e.g. because of age or a disability). Taxis are too expensive for the most. The biggest component in the cost of taxis is the driver. A driverless car trip will be much more affordable.

+ Financial benefits: Since driverless cars will be much safer, the insurance on them will be much reduced.

+ Environmental benefits: There should be less congestion because the flow of traffic will be better regulated and there will be more opportunities for journey sharing. There will be far fewer cars then today.

+ Racial justice: In the USA, African-American complains about being pulled over by police on some pretence but really while black. In driverless cars this problem will not occur.

+ Relaxation and Productivity: Some enjoy driving, but for the rest it is boring and stressing. A driverless car makes road travels relaxing and we can do other things during the ride.

Here the cons:

- There will be a significant upheaval in certain industries, tens of thousands of taxi and lorry drivers will lose their jobs.

- Perhaps there will be an increase of alcohol consumption because people won't need to drive themselves.

- In future there will be a data record of all our journeys. This raises privacy issues. The autonomous car as a basically big brother on wheels. And could a malignant agent hack the controls of the car?

A further problem is how driverless cars shall be prepared for extreme situations when there must be a choice, such as to choose between the life of a child and a mother outside or the passengers' safety in case of accident.

In the opinion of Edmonds, nonetheless, on balance the negatives of the autonomous car are vastly outweighed by the positives.

Jürgen Czogalla, 23.01.2022