Transportation and AI: Does Ethics Matter?

AI - image courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
image courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Written by Linda Hohnholz

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more commonplace in transportation, how does ethics come into play in a world run by humans?

Despite the fact that AI technology is created, controlled, and regulated by humans, artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly, opening up discussions and debates about the future relationship between AI and human beings.

While AI can perform specific tasks exceptionally well, it lacks general intelligence and consciousness, which are unique to human beings. However, AI systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are being used in various fields including transportation.

Car = image courtesy of coolunit from Pixabay
image courtesy of coolunit from Pixabay

No Fred Flintstone Feet Needed Here

As you ask yourself how comfortable you are with allowing AI to control certain areas of your life, think about how AI has evolved into the functioning of the car.  All cars these days have computers in them, that’s a norm and a given now.

We get warnings about low tire pressure and messages to check the engine. Pull into your service center, and in order to diagnose what’s happening with your vehicle, the technician plugs into the car computer to run a diagnostic. None of this seems out of the norm anymore. 

But what about literally putting AI in the driver’s seat? It started with the intriguing description of “hands-free parking,” but now we are zipping along the freeway with AI driving the car as we eat or do things on yet another computer – our handheld device called a phone, slash camera, slash conference call, slash food orderer, you get the idea.

Consider how you got to that new destination using your phone to connect via Bluetooth to your car and have AI analyze in what appears to be microns of a second, the best route, factoring in current traffic, weather, and road conditions. Even the traffic light that just turned green is using AI to control the traffic patterns of the light signal.

superman - image courtesy of Alan Dobson from Pixabay
image courtesy of Alan Dobson from Pixabay

Look, Up in the Sky!

In the beginning of travel planning involving airlines, AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants are being used by airlines to provide customer support, handle bookings, and offer personalized services to passengers.

From there, air traffic management in the control tower at the airport is being handled by artificial intelligence  that predicts weather patterns, optimizes flight routes, and ensures safe takeoffs and landings.

Once at cruising altitude, AI algorithms are used in autopilot systems to assist pilots in controlling the aircraft. These systems can analyze various flight parameters and make real-time adjustments to ensure a smooth and stable flight.

And how do you think the pilot got in the cockpit in the first place?  Training, right?  Of course, using AI-driven simulations for pilot training. Using simulations that create realistic scenarios, pilots must adapt and learn how to respond to potential risks associated with real flight.

As the aircraft is cruising along, AI-based collision avoidance systems use sensors and cameras to detect other aircraft, obstacles, and terrain. These systems can autonomously make decisions to avoid collisions. AI helps pilots choose optimal routes and avoid turbulence.

AI-powered virtual assistants and decision support systems are even assisting pilots and crew members by providing real-time information, suggesting optimal actions based on current conditions, and even helping in troubleshooting technical issues.

Which Brings Us Back to Ethics

It all boils down to how the public accepts artificial intelligence.

The integration of AI in transportation continues to evolve, promising a future of safer, more efficient, and sustainable mobility solutions. And as that takes place, ethical and regulatory frameworks are being developed to ensure the responsible and beneficial use of AI technology.

The future relationship between AI and humans will depend on how society chooses to govern and integrate AI systems into various aspects of life. It is, therefore, essential for humans to continue leading the development of AI – not allowing AI to “take over” – while also addressing the ethical, social, and economic implications associated with its widespread adoption.

Addressing these ethical considerations requires collaboration between researchers, policymakers, industry leaders, and ethicists. Ethical frameworks and guidelines are continuously being developed to steer the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies, ensuring they benefit society while minimizing harm and promoting fairness and transparency.

WTNJOIN | eTurboNews | eTN

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About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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