How shall we tackle ethical issues arising from technology?

May 08, 2019 10:40
Investigators examine an autonomous Uber vehicle involved in a fatal accident in Arizona last year. Photo: Reuters

Big data is changing the way we see the world. When the amount of information reaches a certain level, powerful algorithms and machine learning will often lead to new conclusions that go against traditional wisdom.

As data analysis becomes part of everyday life, humans have no choice but to interact with machines. And that is giving rise to new ethical issues.

An autonomous Uber car killed a woman in the street in Arizona in March last year. It marks the first reported fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in the United States. A vehicle operator was sitting inside the car at the time of the crash.

This accident has sparked discussions about ethical issues. What responsibility shall be assumed by companies developing the self-driving system? Shall the operator be held accountable? Are there enough tests done for self-driving technology? Are current road designs ready to deal with autonomous cars?

Some are also asking: when an accident is imminent, should the auto-pilot system try to minimize the harm to drivers or to pedestrians? Who should have the say on such decisions?

The full article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 7

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Venture Partner of Sequoia Capital China, former head of the data committee and vice president at Alibaba Group.