[EU whale washed up in Strassbourg]
Via Ross Dawson, again, I found a piece on the ethics of self-driving cars which is fascinating in its ethics discussions. Or, pointers to, as the discussions are of course not definitively settled once and for all as is the nature of such discussions. In particular when various ethics backgrounds from around the world collide, as they will! (No autopilot there, heh.)
But the discussion should reach further. ‘We’ now focus on cars, but if we can tackle that issue of autonomous, self-driving cars (wasn’t the term ‘automobile’ not already coined to include that glimpse of a possible future (apart from the engine part) ..? And weren’t horses self-driving to a degree ..?), there are so many more self-operating things out there that would require simpler environmental awareness. If cars can drive full-auto, so many more machines can – how much human operators would we need; how many (how few) managers, etc, when organisations are self-driving ..?How do we train and gain experience necessary for the inevitably required human overrides ..?
But more importantly, how would we settle the ethics arguments like the ones indicated in the above example ..? Because there will be many, of a great variety. And certainly not all (end) stakeholders may be present at/for the discussions, or may not be capable to represent themselves (incurring agency issues, already the downfall of all democracy), or may vary in their quality of discussion process execution, and may not reach a final equitable conclusion shared by all; then what ..? [‘One should not count arguments, but weigh them’ (Cicero); very, very true]
Will we have time to develop a societal framework for ethical discussions, or will we have to take them one by one as they come along, badly reinventing the wheel every time, and getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of must-settle ethical discussions that will come at us ..? Because settle we must; letting it rest and letting marketplace/economy forces run their course, will result in unethical results. Mammon shouldn’t rule.
But anyway, let’s get engaged. Because similar problems are already all around us – healthcare costs mushrooming, global environmental destruction, etc.; all problems at the societal scale or above, all still in much need of ethical discussions and course setting.
And because we must.