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1. Consider the ethical dilemma surrounding deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) for self-driving vehicles.

“The tech is not so great, however, the people who work one of the most common jobs in the country, one that provides a steady middle class income”.

Stewart, J (2017, 05, 05) Robots and us: Self-driving trucks are coming to save lives and kill jobs
Retrieved from: 
https://www.wired.com/2017/05/robot-us-self-driving-trucks-coming-save-lives-kill-jobs/

Analyse the above issue using an ethical perspective.

2. What are the important features of consequence-based ethical theories? Explain with suitable examples.

3. What are the strengths and weakness of the IEEE Computer Society, and the Australian Computer Society code of ethics? What are some of the criticisms of professional code of ethics in general?

Ethical Considerations of Self-Driving Vehicles

1. The self driving vehicles with artificial intelligence is the cutting edge technology that considerably changing the face of modern world. However, implementation of these modern technologies reflects significant impact for both the sides of the coin. Use of these automated vehicles has various ethical limitations. As identified in techrepublic.com report (2017), these automated vehicles are likely to kill a number of jobs around the globe. This can be considered as the biggest ethical consideration that the governments should review. Implementation of self-driving cars is likely to disturb lifestyle of these individuals. As per the CNBC Report (Fahey, 2017), the total number of American citizens employed as drivers is 4.4 million in 2014. Hence, killing the jobs of these drivers will result into survival issue for these individual drivers and their family members. The report, however, identifies the requirement of an assistant in these AI integrated self-driving trucks who will be taking the moral decisions where the AI will be lacking in; but the situation is foreseen when the truck drivers will lose their job as the technology is under constant development. However, on the other side of the coin, artificial intelligence in driving is expected to reduce the number of accidents occurs in contemporary human driving. As claimed by Goodall (2014), implementation of artificial intelligence in self-driving vehicles will reduce the accidents by analysing the situation much before it likely to occur. The cars are attached with scanners that can cover a longer and remote distance the human drivers fails to see and calculate the movements as per the requirement of the requirement of the situation. This is definitely going to reduce the number of accidents in around the globe.

Moral decisions on the other hand need consideration in this matter. The self-driving vehicles are likely to face critical situation where the AI needs to make moral decision. Bonnefon, Shariff and Rahwan (2016) placed the example where the AI has to choose between the passengers and the individual pedestrian. Saving a single pedestrian will cost the whole cargo in the vehicle. The complication is well above the limitation of an AI. Hence, it is likely to bring some avoidable circumstances. Moreover, President Obama raised a question related to the similar situation replacing the individual pedestrian with someone more important individual such as president himself (Dadich & Anderson, 2016). The AI can never make logical decision in this scenario as a human could have. Hence, this limits the capabilities of AI self driving vehicles.

Consequence-Based Ethical Theories

Alessandrini et al (2015) on the other hand identified some of the positive sides of the implementation of AI self driving vehicles. According to their findings, this new technology will be cutting the expenses of the logistics companies into have while doubling the efficiency of the supply chain. This will considerably reduce the time taken in transporting the good as the self driven trucks will require no breaks. Moreover, the companies won’t have to face the demands of the salary hike in this case. His will help them to propose greater value to their customers delivering the products faster and reducing the delivery charge. This will in turn increase the customers’ perceived value.

The above identified factors represent both pros and cons of artificial intelligence from the ethical view point. It has both the capability of reducing accidents in the road and killing the jobs of human drivers. Another benefit of using self-driven cars is to reduce the cost incorporated as the companies and the customers won’t have to incur the charge of the driver. This will considerably reduce the price of the goods and services. However, there is significant limitation in self driving cars that makes human driver more efficient. These overlapping ethical boundaries make it harder to choose between the human drivers and AI powered vehicles.

2. The consequence based ethical theories values the consequence over action. As stated by Burnes and By (2012) the organisations in consequence based ethical considerations identifies the consequences of an action and the potential good the results might reflect before selecting an action. Ethical considerations for the process hold little importance while the decisions are taken on the basis of consequence based ethical theories. Chadwick and Gallagher (2016) used the term utilitarianism in place of consequence based ethics where the question circles around the level of happiness the particular outcome will bring. The author argues that the practice of consequence based ethics in one-on-one relationship is no that effective as it is in case of central decision making. In other terms, the decision made for the larger population reflects better affectivity for consequence based ethics.

Tavani (2011) proposes something similar to Chadwick and Gallagher (2016) and related the concept with the moral system. It is to produce desirable outcomes for the members involved in the process. The followers of this particular approach of ethics identify the consequences of the policies and actions to be of ultimate standard in the process of evaluating the success of a project. If the decision maker has two or more possible medium of directing a work, the most ethical decision for this consequence based ethics will be the one that reflects best possible outcome benefiting the majority of the stakeholders in the operation. The procedure of performing the task is of little consideration. Tavani also proposed two parameters for evaluating the success of this tool. Firstly, while evaluating the moral system, the social utility should always be prioritised over alternative criteria for ensuring successful attainment of consequence based ethics or utilitarianism. Secondly, the success of the consequence based ethics depends on the social utility. It is possible to measure by identifying the amount of happiness obtained from the action. Hence, it is possible to state that this particular approach of ethics values the stakeholder’s perceived value in the process. Social morality is met through this process only when the interest of the society is successfully addressed.

Examples of Consequence-Based Ethical Approaches

An example of the use of consequence base ethical theory can be found in the field of nursing, where the nurses utilise this approach of ethics in managing budget of the healthcare organisation. It is also useful in allocating resources (Chadwick & Gallagher, 2016).

Another example of the use of consequence ethics can be sighted, which contributes in the maintenance of workplace environment. It is the use of discrimination policy, which communicates rules and regulations in the workplace that needs to be followed. The desired consequence of this policy is to attain equality in the organisation. The zero tolerance policy upheld by the organisation works as a medium of eliminating any kind of discrimination based on age, sex, race, ethnic origin or what so ever to address the social satisfaction of the stakeholders involved. Burnes and By (2012) argued that the consequence based ethics can also be used to address the other issues such as employee value, orientation, dignity etc. to uphold the social value of the employees.

Johansson-Stenman (2012) identified some of the disadvantages or better to say limitation of consequence based ethical theories in the practical world. The first identified limitation of the theory is the prediction of future. It is nearly impossible for anyone to identify the exact outcome of a decision taken. The calculations for identification of the expected consequences are likely to work differently than expected, hence limiting the success of the theory. Moreover, the happiness or satisfaction of an individual considerably varies from one another. Hence, one’s perceived satisfaction can deviate from the value of the stakeholders involved in the operation. The third limitation identified by the author is the time limitation. The utilitarianism takes longer time in making decision as it involves a number of calculations in the process. Hence, it fails in making urgent decisions required in any organisation.

3. The IEEE computer society and Australian computer society has jointly formulated a number of software engineering code of ethics for advancing the professionalism in software engineering. Purpose as viewed by the society is to set standard for teaching and practicing software engineering, documenting the ethical and professional obligations of software engineers. A number of principles are communicated through the IEEE code of ethics that covers multiple interests ranging from public to self interest. Despite of the presence of various strengths, a number of weaknesses can also be spotted. Both the strengths and weaknesses are identified below.

Limitations of Consequence-Based Ethical Theories

There are a number of strengths that can be identified in the code of ethics of IEEE and Australian Computer society.

Firstly, as argued by Dittrich, Bailey and Dietrich (2011), the first principle of the code concerns and safeguards the public interest by spreading awareness among the software engineers regarding the quality of the products and services being provided. The third code also addresses similar issue stating the standards of products that are to be maintained. The fourth code helps the engineers to make ethical judgements in their profession. It helps and guides the engineers making professional and ethical choices. Similarly, the code of conduct mentions procedure of managing the workplace and the colleagues ethically to get the best possible outcome. The code also communicates the obligations the employees have to follow to satisfy the needs of the customers and clients. Finally, it helps in proposing value to the public by enhancing the view of the profession.

Rigby et al (2012) identified a number of weaknesses in the IEEE and Australian computer society code of ethics. One of the major drawbacks in the code of ethics that is possible to identify is the inefficiency in the disciplinary matter. The code fails to address the issue or to establish discipline in the software engineers and the organisation itself. It is hence hard to maintain order without and disciplinary code. Secondly, code sometimes fails in addressing multiple directive conflicts. Basart and Serra (2013) further stated that the code also fails in drawing boundaries in professionalism that works in favour of the individual seeking to take advantage for satisfying self interests. This is due to the inconsistence of the codes with one another. Though the codes stated are interrelated to each other and are mend to views as a complex whole, they sometimes conflicts with one another. Lastly, the codes stated fails to make distinct between the macro-ethics issues and micro-ethics issues.

The professional code of ethics communicates the standards of behaviour of individual professional. Though it is unusual to face criticism in professional code, some have pin pointed some limitation. Durkheim (2013) identified that the results in violation of the codes of ethics in the medical industry is dissimilar to those seen in the computer. The threat of retaining employment is not similar over industries. Moreover, the professionals working in the field of computer does not always have to be the member of IEEE or ACS for performing their activities unlike in the field of medical where one have to get license for operating in the field of healthcare. Moreover, as viewed by Dittrich, Bailey and Dietrich (2011) the professional codes are often vague, self serving, inconsistent, unrealistic and unnecessary. The codes are largely incomplete and fail to address the cause. It is easy to find loopholes in the proposed codes and misuse them in the self vested interests. Meine and Dunn (2013) addressed the other side of the coin and raise the issue in the ground of clearance. The codes introduce confusion in respect to responsibilities involving micro and macro ethics. In other words, they fail to draw line between the responsibilities for individual professional and the profession itself.

References

Alessandrini, A., Campagna, A., Delle Site, P., Filippi, F., & Persia, L. (2015). Automated vehicles and the rethinking of mobility and cities. Transportation Research Procedia, 5, 145-160.

Basart, J. M., & Serra, M. (2013). Engineering ethics beyond engineers’ ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics, 19(1), 179-187.

Bonnefon, J. F., Shariff, A., & Rahwan, I. (2016). The social dilemma of autonomous vehicles. Science, 352(6293), 1573-1576.

Burnes, B., & By, R. T. (2012). Leadership and change: The case for greater ethical clarity. Journal of business ethics, 108(2), 239-252.

Chadwick, R., & Gallagher, A. (2016). Ethics and nursing practice. Palgrave Macmillan.

Dadich, S., & Anderson, C. (2016). Barack Obama, Neural Networks, Self-Driving Cars, and the Future of the World. Wired, 24(11), 124-133.

Dittrich, D., Bailey, M., & Dietrich, S. (2011). Building an active computer security ethics community. IEEE Security & Privacy, 9(4), 32-40.

Dittrich, D., Bailey, M., & Dietrich, S. (2011). Building an active computer security ethics community. IEEE Security & Privacy, 9(4), 32-40.

Durkheim, E. (2013). Professional ethics and civic morals.

Fahey, M. (2017). Driverless cars will destroy the most jobs in these US states. cnbc.com. Retrieved 19 December 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/02/driverless-cars-will-kill-the-most-jobs-in-select-us-states.html

Goodall, N. (2014). Ethical decision making during automated vehicle crashes. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, (2424), 58-65.

Gotterbarn, D., Miller, K., & Rogerson, S. (1999). Computer society and ACM approve software engineering code of ethics. Computer, 32(10), 84-88.

Johansson-Stenman, O. (2012). Are most people consequentialists?. Economics Letters, 115(2), 225-228.

Meine, M. F., & Dunn, T. P. (2013). The search for ethical competency: Do ethics codes matter?. Public Integrity, 15(2), 149-166.

Rigby, P., Cleary, B., Painchaud, F., Storey, M. A., & German, D. (2012). Contemporary peer review in action: Lessons from open source development. IEEE software, 29(6), 56-61.

Tavani, H. T. (2011). Ethics and technology: Controversies, questions, and strategies for ethical computing. John Wiley & Sons.

techrepublic.com. (2017). 81% of Americans believe driverless vehicles will kill jobs for professional drivers. Retrieved 19 December 2017, from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/81-of-americans-believe-driverless-vehicles-will-kill-jobs-for-professional-drivers/

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