The television programme ‘Universiteit van Nederland’ features free online lectures given by scientists (in Dutch). New lectures are published every day and each week focuses on a particular theme. As part of this series Merel Noorman (MUSTS) delivered a lecture ‘Who is responsible when there is an accident involving a self-driving car?’. The video of the lecture can be found at the bottom part of this text.
In her lecture Noorman looked at what self-driving cars would mean for the distribution of responsibility from a philosophical perspective. The idea that the driver of a self-driving car would no longer be in control of the car raises the question whether human beings can still be held responsible. Will the responsibility for accident with a self-driving care shift to other parties involved, such as software developers or manufacturers? Or will there come a point where these technologies will become too complex for human beings to understand or control? Could we then still reasonably ask human beings to answer for the behaviour of these technologies? In her lecture, Noorman highlighted several assumptions that underlie this kind of reasoning in order to show that human beings can and, indeed, should still be held responsible.
The lecture was based on Noorman’s research, in which she looked at various kinds of complex digital technologies, such as self-driving cars, autonomous military robots and smart city technologies. By studying how these technologies are developed, implemented, used and governed, she explores how we can address concerns about the distribution of responsibility that such technologies raise.