Reflection #1: Ethics & Autonomous Vehicles

Prior to reading/watching the materials for Week 1 & 2 of CS 340, I was unaware that the issue of autonomous vehicles was so pressing. According to Maria Martin, “By the year 2035, the US streets will have about 4.5 million self-driving cars roaming around” (2021). It’s difficult to fathom the technological advancements I will get to see in my lifetime; just as I imagine people from my grandparent’s generation couldn’t have fathomed the iPhone.

A benefit of autonomous vehicles that surprised me was their potential impact on urban planning (Larco, 2018). I had not considered what cities would look like without the need for massive parking lots. As someone who used to attend Portland State University, I dreamt about how wonderful it would be not to spend 20–30 minutes looking for parking [and then having to pay for it]. Another benefit I can see emerging from the mass implementation of self-driving cars is related to those with driving anxiety. It’s surprisingly common for individuals to experience a phobia of driving; either related to a specific accident or simply the act of driving itself. Autonomous vehicles would greatly assist those who didn’t feel comfortable/safe navigating busy, city streets and fast-paced highways on their own. Also, as LaBruna mentioned in his TED Talk, these vehicles would also aid those who are physically/mentally incapable of driving themselves (2018). I have a wisdom teeth removal surgery coming up that this would definitely come in handy for [mainly so my family couldn't videotape me and put it on Facebook].

A final message I took away from the readings/videos we viewed recently was how the age-old dilemma of “how to live a good life, our rights and responsibilities, the language of right and wrong, and moral decisions” (BBC, 2014, p. 1) can be applied to almost any discipline; especially Computer Ethics. When I was at PSU, I took a Philosophy of Sex & Love class. Although romantic concepts such as these appear wildly different from Computer Ethics, we pondered the same questions to examine their ethicality.

BBC. (2014). Ethics: a general introduction.

LaBruna, D. (2018, September). Is my driverless car ready yet? [Video].

Larco, N. (2018, June). How will autonomous vehicles transform our cities? [Video].

Martin, M. (2021, February 24). 29 Must-Know Self-Driving Statistics.

WOU CS 340 Blog