Autonomous Vehicle Reflection

Spending the last couple of weeks learning more about Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) has made me re-examine their use and whether or not this is a technology we should adopt and if so how.

Before looking deeper into the use of AVs, I figured they would something that we will all see on the roads eventually and didn’t see to much of an issue with it, but as I looked deeper I realized there are more issues at play then the novelty of seeing a driver-less vehicle on the road. Issues like the potential for jobs to be lost in mass, which is something many around the U.S. are already facing. Other issues, like the safety aspects of having a vehicle on the road controlled only by a series of computer algorithms, the economical and ecological impact of wide spread use of AVs. Of course we also can’t forget about the impact a less then savory individual or group of individuals could have with AVs being connected to the internet of things(IoT).

It’s not all doom and gloom with AVs however, there are many aspects that can be very beneficial. With more time and fine tuning they could prove to be safer then man driven vehicles. They can allow us to be productive during our regular commutes to work. They won’t be influenced by emotions like humans are. One of the biggest benefits being that during times of pandemic like we are currently going through, it could be extremely beneficial to have fully Autonomous vehicles, to transport goods across countries such as vaccinations. AVs wont stop at cars either, they will eventually move to trains, maybe even shipping vessels, and airplanes. While I shudder to think about being in a plane without a pilot, it is a real possibility in the future.

At the start of my looking into AVs, all these positives were the only thing running through my mind. However, as I mentioned as new information came to light, so did a new opinion. While I still think the benefits of not spreading the pandemic level virus’ around the world with level 5 fully autonomous vehicles is something we need. The current risks out weigh the potential reward in my opinion.

Risks like the fact that AVs are currently more likely to be involved in an accident then a manned vehicle. Risks like the algorithms failing and driving into highway barriers, or deciding that it is worth the risk of running over a pedestrian walking across the street. Risks like the potential drop in property values, leading to less taxes to pay for the upkeep on the infrastructure that would be needed to make sure AVs are safe to drive. Risks like more people being put out of work so that corporations can save millions in wages, by making one time AVs purchases.

Above all else, the risk of adopting level 5 unmanned AV’s and how more unethical people will choose to abuse that technology. Sure opting for an AVs over a human can be seen as unethical, but what I mean is those who would use ransomware, trojans and all other methods available to hijack, hold ransom or otherwise control these AVs for there own purpose. What havoc could a person or a group do with control of AVs, especially level 5 unmanned AVs. If AVs are still manned at least then there is someone local who can take full control and attempt to thwart what ever scheme is put into place by stopping the vehicle. If there is no one there then the one in control is free to do with it as they wish.

After considering all these pros and cons, I finally came to the conclusion that while AVs in general can be very helpful, to go with unmanned AVs would be reckless and irresponsible.