Hubert Etienne Reviews Ethical Questions Relating to Autonomous Vehicles

On November 1 2019, Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs hosted a seminar with Research Associate Hubert Etienne, who discussed ethical questions concerning the development and spread of autonomous vehicles. Etienne started the seminar by arguing that the self-driving cars sector presents an important case study for AI ethics. He argued that there are various triggers behind the advent of autonomous vehicles, because various diverse actors ranging from governments to private companies have incentives to advance the sector's development efficiently and appropriately.

As one of the case studies, Etienne discussed the MIT Social Media Labs' "Moral Machine" experiment. Through a deep moral investigation of the experiment and its application, he argued that there are highly consequential dilemmas that the labs have not addressed sufficiently. He pointed out that many of these dilemmas are highly philosophical and contentious; advancing the spread of self-driving cars while these dilemmas are still being debated is a morally risky approach. Etienne ended the seminar by drawing the audience’s attention to various risks that flawed computational social choices pose to democracies and human societies broadly.

Hubert Etienne is a philosopher specialising in AI ethics completing his PhD at Ecole Normale Supérieure and Sorbonne Universités. He is an associate researcher at Facebook AI Research and a Research Associate at the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs at Oxford University. He teaches AI ethics to graduate students at ESCP Europe.