Apparently, self-driving cars are ‘racist.’ How did this happen? Will this be fixed soon?
On Monday, April 19, Daily Mail UK reported about the issue in cars under auto-pilot mode. It turns out these self-driving cars do not perfectly visualize pedestrians as they supposed to be. A report from an independent body suggests that auto-plot feature in cars does not read the body movements of ‘non-white’ pedestrians.
Auto-pilot not safe for women, disabled and ‘non-white’
In a recent report from Daily Mail UK and The Times, the Scottish Law Commission was quoted saying that self-driving cars have a tendency of being ‘racial bias’ in terms of which pedestrians to detect in the road. As explained, the artificial intelligence (AI) embedded into self-driving cars lacks in detecting ‘non-white’ skins.
What’s worse in the report is that the Law Commission was suggesting that self-driving cars cannot even detect other genders than male. Women, including disabled people allegedly cannot be determined by the AI of auto-pilot mode. As said, the training for self-driving cars in detecting pedestrians were the main reason why it’s now failing.
“Systems may not have been trained to deal with the full variety of wheelchairs and mobility scooters,’ it says in its joint consultation with the Scottish Law Commission. “Air bags save many lives, but the first generation… posed risks to smaller passengers, such as women of small stature, the elderly, and children, because they were developed with adult males in mind.”
Turns out, the demo for self-driving vehicles have been practicing, or more dominant towards white male.
“Current facial recognition software may also exhibit a bias towards white, male faces,” they added. “For non-white and non-male faces, the accuracy of facial recognition systems may decline significantly.”
Disabled people too?
Other than non-white male people in the road, the Scottish Law Commission have also told the public that disabled pedestrians may not be detected with the AI technology. The possible explanation behind this is the fact that demo for self-driving vehicles are focused more in garnering ‘leg movements.’
Meanwhile, as cited on the report, “those movements may not [also] be as pronounced for people wearing long skirts or robes.”
What expert has to say
The Times had the experts insight on the said ‘racial bias’ of self-driving cars. According to their report, Edmund King, president of AA, said that no discriminatory practices should be developed in these types of vehicles.
“When it comes to autonomous cars, that technology must be accurate, precise and non-discriminatory,” said him. “Human error is a factor in a majority of crashes but we shouldn’t just transfer the risks and accept robot error. The last thing we need is the next generation of Mondeo Man being a racist, misogynist self-driving automobile.”
Will Tesla be affected?
Tesla, probably is the most famous name when it comes to self-driving electric vehicles. This means, if the report is true, Elon Musk’s company would be the highest affected company on the line. As of now, both parties of Musk nor Tesla have not yet commented on this matter.