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Case-study: who drives the autonomous car?

Roos de Jong introduces you to the issues concerning responsibility and control.
In the context of this course, it is interesting to think about cognitive systems. Intelligent machines or AI systems can exhibit intelligent behavior. They can observe, analyze specific environments, carry out actions and learn from doing so. We are, in fact, surrounded by sensors, smart devices, all connected to the internet. And they connect to physical and digital worlds. They allow for all kinds of feedback loops to occur in which people are measured and profiled, followed by intervention in the lives of people, their behavior and their environment. The ability to complete these kind of feedback loops, in other words, the real time fine tuning in the physical world raises all kinds of ethical and societal questions. Let’s look at two examples.
Some cars can assist with or take over certain tasks while driving. And expert systems in medical practices can help doctors to diagnose their patients. Do these kind of technologies change what it means to be a driver or a doctor? And if so, in what way? What are the implications if the person does not follow the recommendations generated by the system? Or what if you go against the instructions and consequently harm someone or someone even dies? Automated technologies and robots make decisions that cannot always be fully controlled or predicted. And this seems to pose a challenge on human responsibility. The technologies cannot be regarded as acting on their own or independently of a human being.
But who can be held accountable and who to trust? It is important to anticipate and assess technological developments and the way they affect the world we live in.

Research assistant David Goedicke has been working on autonomous cars for the last two years and introduces you to the issues concerning responsibility and control. At the end of this week you will work on a case-study on autonomous cars to make use of your newly acquired knowledge. Before that, we challenge you to delve into some philosophical texts.

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Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies

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