Elaine Herzberg was the first pedestrian to be killed by a self-driving vehicle. I summarize Uber’s effort to develop an autonomous vehicle, focusing on the engineering and management decisions that contributed to the March 18, 2018, accident. The story of Herzberg’s death illustrates some of the challenges faced by developers of new AI-driven technologies. I conclude by suggesting some practical ways that regulators can help ensure public safety as autonomous vehicles are deployed.
Michael J. Quinn is a computer scientist and author. His early research was in parallel computing, and his textbooks on that subject have been used by hundreds of universities worldwide. In the early 2000s his focus shifted to computer ethics, and in 2004 he published a textbook, Ethics for the Information Age, that explores moral problems related to modern uses of information technology, such as privacy, intellectual property rights, computer security, computerized system failures, the relationship between automation and unemployment, and the impact of social media on democracy. The book, now in its eighth edition, has been used at more than 250 colleges and universities in the United States and many more internationally.
Dr. Quinn was a computer science professor at Oregon State University from 1989 to 2007, where he served as head of the Department of Computer Science for five years. From 1983 to 1989 he was a professor at the University of New Hampshire, and from 2007 to 2022 he was dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Seattle University.