Germany releases report on the ethics of automated and connected driving
The German Government has today released the findings of its Ethics Commission on Automated and Connected Driving, a group that had been meeting for nine months to ensure that Germany could answer three fundamental questions:
- How much dependence on technologically complex systems – which in the future will be based on artificial intelligence, possibly with machine learning capabilities – are we willing to accept in order to achieve, in return, more safety, mobility and convenience?
- What precautions need to be taken to ensure controllability, transparency and data autonomy?
- What technological development guidelines are required to ensure that we do not blur the contours of a human society that places individuals, their freedom of development, their physical and intellectual integrity and their entitlement to social respect at the heart of its legal regime?
The Commission was comprised of academics and experts in ethics, law and technology, from a variety of backgrounds, including transport experts, legal experts, information scientists, engineers, philosophers, theologians, consumer protection representatives, and representatives of associations and companies in these fields.
Alexander Dobrind, the German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, said:
“In the era of the digital revolution and self-learning systems, human-machine interaction raises new ethical questions. Automated and connected driving is the most recent innovation where this interaction is to be found across the board. The Ethics Commission at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has performed absolutely pioneering work in this field and developed the first guidelines in the world for automated driving. We are now going to implement these guidelines – and in doing so we will remain at the forefront of Mobility 4.0 worldwide.”
- Automated and connected driving is an ethical imperative if the systems cause fewer accidents than human drivers (positive balance of risk).
- Damage to property must take precedence over personal injury. In hazardous situations, the protection of human life must always have top priority.
- In the event of unavoidable accident situations, any distinction between individuals based on personal features (age, gender, physical or mental constitution) is impermissible.
- In every driving situation, it must be clearly regulated and apparent who is responsible for the driving task: the human or the computer.
- It must be documented and stored who is driving (to resolve possible issues of liability, among other things).
- Drivers must always be able to decide themselves whether their vehicle data are to be forwarded and used (data sovereignty).
Download the full report
Click here to download the full 33-page copy of the Ethics Commission Automated and Connected Driving Report June 2017.