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Veritasium Highlights the Ethical Dangers of Not Adapting to Autonomous Cars

Although self-driving vehicles are starting to come online in a big way — Tesla, Uber, and pretty much every other giant company making something with four wheels are racing towards full autonomy— there’s still hesitation among some in regards to their safety. In his latest video, Derek Muller, of the YouTube Channel Veritasium, highlights the reason why fear of self-driving cars is not only unfounded, it’s potentially unethical.

Some of the video focuses specifically on BMW, and its own self-driving tech, but the more general point that Muller makes is that there is a lot of death and injury happening out on the world’s roads every day, and it’s due to human error 94% of the time.

Muller notes that “more than 30,000 people are killed each year in the U.S. alone” and that more than 2,000,000 are injured. And for a truly astonishing number, the WHO reports that there were 1,250,000 road deaths worldwide in 2013. For comparison, a report from the Institute for Economics and Peace said that there were 18,000 deaths from terrorist attacks in the same year.

Muller also points out the fact that in 2015, “half of all traffic fatalities occurred on highways,” so even “autonomous driving on a highway could save… a lot of lives.”

In an unrelated but relevant nod to Muller’s point, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla (and SpaceX), recently tweeted out a report conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found that “the data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation.”

What do you think about Muller’s points on the need to adapt to self-driving vehicles more quickly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: Veritasium

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