Toward a Rational and Ethical Sociotechnical System of Autonomous Vehicles: A Novel Application of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis

The expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems has shown the potential to generate enormous social good while also raising serious ethical and safety concerns. AI technology is increasingly adopted in transportation. A survey of various in-vehicle technologies found that approximately 64% of the respondents used a smartphone application to assist with their travel. The top-used applications were navigation and real-time traffic information systems. Among those who used smartphones during their commutes, the top-used applications were navigation and entertainment. There is a pressing need to address relevant social concerns to allow for the development of systems of intelligent agents that are informed and cognizant of ethical standards. Doing so will facilitate the responsible integration of these systems in society. To this end, we have applied Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to develop a formal Multi-Attribute Impact Assessment (MAIA) questionnaire for examining the social and ethical issues associated with the uptake of AI. We have focused on the domain of autonomous vehicles (AVs) because of their imminent expansion. However, AVs could serve as a stand-in for any domain where intelligent, autonomous agents interact with humans, either on an individual level (e.g., pedestrians, passengers) or a societal level.

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