Structural Discrimination and Autonomous Vehicles: Immunity Devices, Trump Cards and Crash Optimisation

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This paper examines the potential for structural discrimination to be woven into the fabric of autonomous vehicle developments, which remain underexplored and undiscussed. The prospect for structural discrimination arises as a result of the coordinated modes of autonomous vehicle behaviour that is prescribed by its code. This leads to the potential for individuated outcomes to be networked and thereby multiplied consistently to any number of vehicles implementing such a code. The aggregated effects of such algorithmic policy preferences will thus cumulate in the reallocation of benefits and burdens to certain categories of persons in a relatively stable manner. The spectre of implicit structural discrimination is therefore raised by the orderly and stable rearrangement of biases that may be expressed by the controlling algorithm.
The potential for a much more pernicious form of active structural discrimination looms with the possibility of crash optimisation impulses in which a protective shield is cast over those individuals in which society may have a vested interest in prioritising or safeguarding. A stark dystopian scenario is introduced to sketch the contours whereby personal beacons signal individual identity, and potentially relative worth, to autonomous vehicles engaging in a crash damage calculus. At the risk of introducing these ideas into the development of autonomous vehicles, this paper hopes to spark a debate to foreclose these eventualities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat Social Robots Can and Should Do
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherIOS Press
Publication dateOct 2016
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-61499-708-5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

ID: 168911120