We’ve all heard of this famous thought experiment: if there was a trolley heading down the tracks towards five people, and you had the choice to divert the trolley to an alternate track with only one person, should you do so? This question is perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate the complex ethical challenges facing the deployment of autonomous cars.
It is crucial that in this early stage of the autonomous revolution, governments must legislate a specific code of ethics for autonomous cars to prevent horrendous abuses of this newfound power. Germany, for example, has taken a step in the right direction, recently releasing a report on automated and connected driving. In this report, they outline 20 guidelines regarding the ethics of autonomous vehicles. These initial guidelines form an important precedent, for the first time giving manufacturers a clear idea of what core principles their autonomous systems should follow.
A few key points within the report highlight several necessary changes to vehicle systems:
- The driver of a vehicle retains their rights over the personal information collected from that vehicle. Use of this data by third parties must be with the owner’s informed consent and with no harm resulting.
- The vehicle should have an aviation-style “Black Box” that continuously records events, including who or what is in control at any given time.
- The threat of maliciously hacking any autonomous driving system must be mitigated by effective safeguards. Software should be designed with a level of security that makes malicious hacking exceedingly unlikely.
The first point demonstrates the necessity of maintaining privacy within a vehicle. Without respecting the rights of the vehicle owner, an OEM is infringing on that person’s right to privacy. Trillium shares this concern, and as such we have developed our SecureSKYE data mining and analytics solution with the consumer’s protection in mind every step of the way.
The second point demonstrates the importance of data integrity. This “Black Box” will be as crucial a safety feature as seatbelts and airbags historically has been, allowing improvements to be made to prevent future crashes. Without data integrity, however, any data recorded will be useless as it is open to manipulation by malicious third parties. It will only serve as a convenient collection of data for cybercriminals to steal. Trillium addresses concerns of data integrity with SecureCAR encryption, authentication, and dynamic key-lock pairing, placing the data safe behind multiple layers of security built from the ground up for automotive applications.
The third point demonstrates the importance of system-wide use of a multilayered security solution. Any cyber-security system requires not just one, but multiple layers of security to effectively safeguard against attacks. Each additional layer of security lowers the success rate of an attack exponentially. Trillium strongly agrees, offering an extensive portfolio of modular security solutions to allow for complete use of all available security resources, no matter the computational strength of the system.
Without flexible, multilayered security and customizable data analytics, manufacturing safe autonomous and connected cars is an impossible endeavor. More countries need to recognize the pressing importance of the matter before it’s too late. Germany understands the threat that autonomous and connected cars will bring, and we hope to see more countries adopt similar guidelines within the near future.