Results DAVI-colloquia Ethics: Responsible Driving Automation

‘Meaningful human control’ should ground moral choices re automated driving

Delft, 17 October 2016

People should always maintain control over the behavior of the system. That remarkable advice is the outcome of a series of expert seminars on ethical choices around self-driving vehicles, which took place     earlier this year at Connekt within the scope of the Knowledge Agenda Self-driving Vehicles and DAVI (Dutch Automated Vehicle Initiative). The report, commissioned by the Department of Public Works and Water Management and published by TU Delft, includes recommendations for the introduction of self-driving vehicles in the Netherlands.

Meaningful human control, how does that work?
The recommended methodology is’ Responsible Innovation and Value-Sensitive Design’. This is an approach to the study of ethics and technology that assumes that the outcome of design processes is not neutral, but ethically laden, and that morally relevant considerations inform the shaping of the world of artifacts. A value-sensitive design approach situates moral questions early on in the process of design, development of technologies, systems and research. It proposes rational procedures for designing artifacts under the guidance of moral values.

The report suggests that the design of a partially automated system or a system under supervision enable human control of the system. Even in a fully automated system human control can be maintained, but given the current state of technologies and legislation, this is not yet possible. The report stresses the importance of the protection of the basic individual right of physical integrity, access to mobility (especially disadvantaged groups) and the assurance of privacy.

Background DAVI-colloquia Ethics: Responsible Driving Automation
More and more car manufacturers and research institutes are working on self-driving vehicles. These vehicles are able to steer and brake automatically, and they can communicate with traffic lights and other cars on the road. For the introduction of self-driving vehicles on our roads, not only technical questions, but also ethical questions need to be posed. Can a self-driving car do things that we do sometimes, such as ignoring the runway centerline marking or speeding? People weigh the risks and make an ethical choice unconsciously; what can we expect from a machine? How “bad” can software be? Experts from the automotive industry, infrastructure policy and management, lawyers and insurers discussed these and more questions during the DAVI-symposia. Their findings are reported in ETHICS AND SELF-DRIVING CARS, A WHITE PAPER ON RESPONSIBLE INNOVATION IN AUTOMATED SYSTEMS DRIVING by Filippo Santoni de Sio, researcher at TU Delft. Download the full text