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Grupo Rubymar Marthyns

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Germany Drafts World’s First Ethical Guidelines For Self-Driving Cars

Germany has drafted the world's first set of ethical guidelines for self-driving car programming. The guidelines were developed by the Ethics Commission at the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The report stipulates 15 rules for software designers, to make "safety, human dignity, personal freedom of choice and data autonomy," a priority, according to Professor Udo Di Fabio, chairman of the authoring ethics committee.

Germany Drafts World’s First Ethical Guidelines for Self-Driving Cars

This is a major techno-social threshold as more car manufacturers consider adding automation to their future fleets than ever before. Some vehicles made by Tesla, BMW, Infiniti, and Mercedes-Benz already have early iterations of the technology, but overall we're still not at a place where full autonomy is feasible. We first need to consider more than just regulatory guidelines for these vehicles. Traditional drivers often come up against ethical questions, such as to swerve to avoid an animal. This will not change when a computer takes over.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a big source of controversy, with many experts, like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, having opposing views about how big of a threat, if any, it could pose. Others instead laud advances in human-machine integration, and argue that the future will look quite different than what we currently envision. Self-driving cars are just a small part of that equation. As we get closer to having 'deployable' advanced intelligence, we'll need to give serious pause before make important decisions regarding ethical frameworks by which to guide AI. Germany's bold foray into AI-ethics may not answer all of these questions, but it's an important first step.

The report lists 20 guidelines for the motor industry to consider in the development of any automated driving systems. The minister says that cabinet has adopted the guidelines, making it the first government in the world to do so.

German regulators have been working on drafting a set of ethical guidelines to dictate how the artificial intelligence in autonomous vehicles will deal with worst-case scenarios. According to Reuters, an expert government committee is writing what will be the basis for software guidelines that will decide the best possible course of action to protect human life above all else in an autonomous car emergency. While this doesn't sound very exciting and glamorous, the resulting guidelines and software could prove to be the most important (and possibly controversial) aspect of driverless cars.

"The interactions of humans and machines is throwing up new ethical questions in the age of digitalization and self-learning systems," German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said. "The ministry's ethics commission has pioneered the cause and drawn up the world's first set of guidelines for automated driving."

The guiding principle of the new German guidelines is that human injury and death should be avoided at all costs. In situations where injury or death will be unavoidable, the car will have to decide which action will result in the smallest number of human casualties. The regulators have also stipulated that the car may not take the "age, sex or physical condition of any people involved" into account when choosing what to do. Instead, self-driving cars in germany will prioritize hitting property or animals over humans in the event of a worst-case scenario.

The new ethics rules, along with German laws passed in the past few years, will influence other countries developing regulatory frameworks around the operation of autonomous vehicles. For instance, Germany, which is home to major automakers such as BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen, was among the first nations to specify requirements for the testing of self-driving cars.


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