Selected TED/TEDx talks on self-driving cars

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post on current compliance trends in the emerging autonomous vehicle technology industry, the below is a collection of videos from TED and TEDx talks about self-driving cars. The possibilities of this technology at this point, its infancy, seem almost infinite. The impact autonomous cars could have on modern society and culture are fascinating to contemplate; it seems like this technology could disrupt and indeed improve people’s lives in many ways.

First, a primer on the technical basics of the self-driving car systems that are under development now, and the machine learning and artificial intelligence technology that will be imperative to make it practical and affordable, from Self-Driving Cars of The Near Future (Raquel Urtasun).

Of course, along with the tremendous potential of this autonomous vehicle technology also comes risks and decisions that must be carefully and thoughtfully made with compliance and ethics considerations in mind. In developing a technology that will have such a wide-reaching impact on so many people, both those who use it and those who do not personally do so, it is critically important to have in mind from the beginning all the interests concerned and how those might be conflicting or impacted.

  • Autonomous ride toward a new reality (Limmor Kfiri) – The benefits of self-driving cars must be taken alongside the issues and ethical dilemmas they prompt. In considering these challenges – which include, for example, cybersecurity risk in the possibility that someone could remotely hack a car’s self-driving technology system and take over control of the steering or brakes from the human inside it – creative approaches for handling the problems without stifling the technology are necessary. Governments and individuals who are involving in the designing phase can have a huge impact from the beginning in this effort.


  • The Overlooked Secret Behind Driverless Cars (Priscilla Nagashima Boyd) – There are many very practical problems of driving that technologists hope self-driving vehicles can help to address. For example, which route to select for the best commute or where to find a parking spot are all decisions people must make when driving now that semi-autonomous or autonomous driving systems could take care of in the future. However, with these conveniences there are some serious potential effects to privacy. People must ask themselves whether they are comfortable with location sharing, for example, something which has been an uncomfortable subject for some with social media or smartphone apps already. This may require a change in attitude and expectations toward privacy, and a heightened trust in technology, that during this time of cybersecurity breaches and leaks, some people are not so eager to normalize.


  • What’s the perfect driverless car? It depends on who you ask (Ryan Jenkins) – Design ethics and artificial intelligence meet in the development of the technology for autonomous vehicles. Technologies which can so deeply impact human life – such as smartphones, software algorithms, and indeed self-driving cars – bring with them many moral questions about what the character of and oversight on that impact might be. Any technology which can transform the way people live can do so helpfully or harmfully. Therefore, designers, engineers, lawmakers, and compliance and ethics professionals must collaborate to ensure that autonomous vehicles are produced so that they will meaningfully and positively shape human lives.


  • Are we ready for driverless cars? (Lauren Isaac) – Maybe the technology for driverless cars is great, but what if humans are the ones who are not ready? Like all systems, it can be designed with all the necessary controls and considerations in mind to make it as safe as possible, but if people do not use it appropriately or with good intentions then everything can go wrong. If people are not prepared to share with each other as well as redefine some of their inflexible ideas about ownership and control, then the technology will struggle to succeed in its bolder ambitions for society as a collective. Lawmakers and regulators can intervene early to ensure the philosophical intention of the driverless vehicle includes that people are safe and their interests are served, rather than neglected or abused, by the technology.


  • Are we ready for the self-driving car? (Tyron Louw) – While the previous lecture addresses people’s behavioral capability to handle self-driving car technology, in their attitudes and their openness to change and responsibility, this one focuses on people’s performance capacity. People are often frustrated when their laptops freeze or their phones have a dead battery – how will they react in the moment if a self-driving car has a technical malfunction? How can driverless vehicles be designed to take into account the possibility that the unsafe part of a self-driving car is the human driver in or near it?


The potential of the technology for autonomous vehicles, as expressed in these lectures and many others, is so striking, that it would be an inexcusable loss to not manage its growth and advancement in a way that ensures its sustainability. In the absence of regulatory action, and with tremendous respect for and power to the unchecked ambition of innovation, organizations and individuals working in this space must takes a value-based approach to developing, testing, and launching this technology. This way, its risks and challenges can be properly controlled against, and its greatness can be realized.

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