Brenna Newsom, an eighth grader from Georgia, submitted this essay in response to our November Your Turn prompt.
As we get more and more advanced in our technology, we must wonder about the ethics of some of these new inventions. One invention that is moving towards accessibility to the public is self-driving cars, a topic of debate between scientists and philosophers alike. Before releasing these modern devices, we must first consider the effect that it will have on our world’s safety, environment, and well-being.
An issue being argued is whether self-driving cars will be safer than a human driver. I believe that these AI vehicles will not be nearly as effective in regard to safety as a human driver. Humans can make better decisions in the moment than AI can; people can evaluate the situation, and decide how to act. Another thing to consider is that being a very newly created invention, these cars could be prone to accidents. They are very new to the general public who has no experience with these devices.
Another issue is the environment. If these self-driving cars eventually come to the point where they work in a safe way and people are using them regularly, then traveling could become simpler. People may start driving on longer trips and more often. We are currently running out of resources to fuel cars, and scientists are scrambling to find new ways of energy that are more environmentally friendly. Should we really use up these scarce and precious natural resources so freely? This is exactly what could potentially happen with the advance of self-driving vehicles.
I personally would not drive a self-driving car until the technology has been proven to be safe. The uncertainty around these inventions is too high. Also, they will likely be quite costly for a great length of time following their release. The drawbacks of self-driving vehicles outnumber the benefits incredibly.
Is inventing self-driving cars worth out time? There are so many other greater issues that need our attention. I believe we should spend our resources and our time on these problems, instead of on creating devices that would likely become a new problem after they are released to the general public. People should shift their focuses to the bigger problems, the ones that are destroying our world, and find solutions to those. For sure, creating new issues is not what we need at this time. We would be far better off in giving resources to safe public transportation. Self-driving cars would likely only be accessible to the upper class because of price. Public transport is a very common way to travel, and it is so much safer than driving. It is also more environmentally friendly, because less fuels are being emitted than they would if everyone drove their own car.
All in all, the invention of self-driving cars is something that needs to be very carefully considered before they are released. We need to analyze the effect that these cars would have on our world and our environment, and decide whether this venture is actually the best thing for us.