Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2720477
 


 



Praise the Machine! Punish the Human! The Contradictory History of Accountability in Automated Aviation


M. C. Elish


Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Students; Data & Society Research Institute

Tim Hwang


Data & Society Research Institute

May 18, 2015


Abstract:     
What will happen to current regimes of liability when driverless cars become commercially available? What happens when there is no human actor — only a computational agent — responsible for an accident? This white paper addresses these questions by examining the historical emergence and response to technologies of autopilot and cruise control. Through an examination of technical, social and legal histories, we observe a counter-intuitive focus on human responsibility even while human action is increasingly replaced by automation. We argue that a potential legal crisis with respect to driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles is unlikely. Despite this, we propose that the debate around liability and autonomous systems be reframed more precisely to reflect the agentive role of designers and engineers as well as the new and unique kinds of human action attendant to autonomous systems. The advent of commercially available autonomous vehicles, like the driverless car, presents an opportunity to reconfigure regimes of liability that reflect realities of informational asymmetry between designers and consumers. Our paper concludes by offering a set of policy principles to guide future legislation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 22

Keywords: automation, algorithms, driverless cars, autonomous, autonomy, accountability, aviation, control


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Date posted: January 26, 2016 ; Last revised: January 31, 2016

Suggested Citation

Elish, M. C. and Hwang, Tim, Praise the Machine! Punish the Human! The Contradictory History of Accountability in Automated Aviation (May 18, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2720477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2720477

Contact Information

M. C. Elish (Contact Author)
Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Students ( email )
New York, NY 10027
United States
Data & Society Research Institute ( email )
36 West 20th Street
New York, NY
United States
Tim Hwang
Data & Society Research Institute ( email )
36 West 20th Street
New York,, NY
United States
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