Should Driverless Car Data Be Open to All?
Who should be allowed to access our data?
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Driverless cars both generate and rely upon huge quantities of data, and there have been understandable concerns raised about the security of that data, the availability of it for insurance and regulatory concerns, and even ownership of it for the greater societal good. It’s on this latter topic that a recent paper from Dartmouth was published.
Autonomous vehicles are generating huge quantities of data as they attempt to make sense of the world around them. Data on traffic, pedestrian movements, other vehicles, and all manner of environmental features are all consumed and absorbed. There is a temptation for companies to keep a tight grip on this data, but governments, citizens, and other groups have a vested interest, too.
“Self-driving cars have the potential to transform our transportation network and society at large. This carries enormous consequences given that the data and technology are likely to fundamentally reshape the way our cities and communities operate,” the authors say. “Right now, the geospatial data obtained by a self-driving car exists in technological and corporate black boxes. We don’t know who can see the data, appropriate it or profit from it. With insufficient government regulation of data from self-driving cars, this raises significant concerns regarding privacy, security and public safety.”
Opening the Black Box
The value in opening up this black box is self-evident, but to do so will require a strong mix of legislation, open-source design, and hacking. For instance, the authors suggest that legislation can play a big role in ensuring that the data used by autonomous vehicles is more accessible, with various early signs of legislation pushing back on sole rights of ownership by the auto companies.
Similarly, attempting to ensure vehicles are designed with openness in mind can play a crucial role. The authors advocate an open-source framework through which vehicles can be designed and cite various new programs from learning providers, such as Udacity, that advocate such an open approach.
Perhaps, the most interesting recommendation is around hacking. It’s a domain that is predominantly presented in a negative sense, with hackers posing a considerable risk to the safety and even viability of connected and autonomous vehicles. The Dartmouth team believes hackers can also help make car data and systems more transparent, however, and also ensure that car companies are held accountable.
“If we’re going to adopt self-driving cars, then we should really make absolutely sure that they are as secure as they can be. This requires input from parties outside of the corporations who are building those very systems, such as government, advocacy groups and civil society at large,” the authors explain.
As autonomous vehicles begin testing and deployment in more territories, it’s vital that governance and regulation are not left to the vendors themselves, but rather something through which all of society are involved.
Published at DZone with permission of Adi Gaskell, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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