An example, reflections after looking at a publicity from Toyota
Toyota is running an advertising in the US for one of its new cars. The publicity shows the Toyota car driving behind a camping car, and performing an automatic emergency braking procedure when the camping car in front suddenly brakes for a deer crossing the road.
Disclaimer: The text hereafter gives some reflections after looking at this publicity, that, probably unexpectedly and unintentionally, is also suitable for use as an illustration of some societal issues. The quality and characteristics of the specific brand and car are not questioned and are not the subject of the discussion.
One could question whether this publicity is advocating responsible driving, or rather ‘sporty’ and less responsible driving.
But more fundamentally, why is there the camping car in the publicity?
Well, the presence of the camping car may be hiding the real issues to be addressed by society:
Answering these two questions is central to ‘assisted driving’ and ‘autonomous driving’. And, in fact, many similar technical and ethical issues in other, related or even seemingly unrelated applications of smart technology, including in the medical domain.
The technical question is more complex than often realised; it requires, at least:
The ethical question may be the more difficult; it requires, at least:
An agreed guidance for taking decisions, understood by other road users
Legal versus Societal aspects
In many discussions the legal aspects are put on the foreground. It could be argued that the legal issues are important, but possibly are less complex and less fundamental than is often presented, and that the perceived legal issues overshadow the societal issues.
On the legal aspects
In this respect, additional legislation may be useful, but may be not strictly required immediately, while ground-breaking cases will establish case law, interpretation of the existing laws and give possibly rise to additional laws.
Beyond ‘break-glass’: stopping an autonomous vehicle
In the medical domain the need for an overriding emergency function has been recognised, it is often referred to as a ‘break-glass’ function. The use of the ‘break-glass’ function is assumed to be reserved for use by medical and para-medical personnel, or at least persons with sufficient knowledge and training to be able to use it.
Whereas such as function is certainly necessary, it may not be sufficient: e.g. in case of a life-saving implant such as a cardiac stimulator, the ‘break-glass’ function may be too binary in nature, and needs to be protected against misuse, so there is a need for a more complete ‘Protected Emergency Function’.
Industrial applications likely require the equivalent of a ‘Protected Emergency Function’ (PEF):
Autonomous and assisted driving vehicles will need more than that:
With this new entry on this blog, I will try to make from time to time a contribution.
Today, a first contribution
Smart, smarter, intelligent technology, issues to be addressed by society
Then, in coming weeks will follow a series of contributions on
Reflections on Democracy and the media
Hope you will enjoy reading, and more importantly, find some interesting stimuli for further thoughts.
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