Jump directly to the page contents


Feminist Revision of Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles

Funded by

Edited by

Project description

Autonomous vehicle (AV) as an application of artificial intelligence (AI) represents a familiar, tangible, graspable showcase potentially concerning everyone. It is a complicated sociotechnical network that refers to everyday experience and represents the views of the future and mobility. However, five years after the first pedestrian death with the AV involved, not all the ethical lessons have yet been learned. Until the complex AV innovation is introduced into public use, the ethical issues remain settled in the realm of academic studies, pre-regulations and public debates. But what are the reliable sources for ethical discussions in the case of AVs? What are the political concepts and practical considerations for these issues? What kind of expertise is actually needed to perform (and not just ethics-wash) ethical conduct?

The project will further develop a more nuanced understanding of how ethical issues are to be appropriately integrated into the sociotechnical development of AVs by making use of different approaches from feminist epistemology. The project is designed around the three consequential sets of hypotheses and objectives.

The first hypothesis is the lack of a transparent basis for both regulations and public discussion. The preliminary study showed that the central providers of basic concepts and definitions do not take into account the current debate about ethics of AI and AV. Reinforced by feminist criticism, the first objective is to epistemologically reconsider the background of the production of knowledge on AV ethics.

The second hypothesis is that unreflective and uncritical adoption of concepts of AI ethics results in contradictions and, in the case of AVs, fails to fit the local sociotechnical and cultural contexts. The major ontology of AV ethics is normative and addresses ethical issues through the lens of regulatory policies entrenched in existing laws and regulations. Thus, the second objective of the project is to revise the key policies with the help of feminist ontological concepts.

The third hypothesis is that engineering practice in AV already inherits ethical decisions, regardless of whether they conform to guidelines or have been reflected. These decisions rely heavily on traffic regulations, the law and everyday morality. Yet AVs as an emerging technology badly need a different approach to an ethical framework, which should include non-engineering experiences. Based on the results of the previous parts of this study, the third objective is to reveal, through the feminist perspective, how engineers involve non-engineering practices while dealing with ethical issues.

Other research projects