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Ethics Across Campus presents "Machine Learning, Social Learning and Self-Driving Cars" by Dr. Jack Stilgoe

2017-04-18 4:00pm


Petroleum Hall, Green Center

Dr. Jack Stilgoe is senior lecturer at the department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London. His teaching and research interests are in science and innovation policy and the governance of emerging technologies. Among other publications, he is the author of Experiment Earth: Responsible Innovation in Geoengineering (Routledge, 2015) 


Self-driving cars, a quintessentially ‘smart’ technology, are not born smart. In the algorithms that control their movements and the connections they make with their surroundings, they are learning as they emerge, in organized and haphazard ways. As well as a test of the powers of machine learning, they are an important test case for social learning in technology governance. In this talk, I reframe responsible innovation as social experiment, with the key question being ‘who learns what?’ Focussing on the successes and failures of social learning around a much-publicised crash in 2016, I argue that ‘self-driving’ or ‘autonomous’ cars are misnamed. As with other technologies, they are shaped by assumptions about social needs, solvable problems, and economic opportunities. Responsible innovation for self-driving cars means challenging this discourse of autonomy and appreciating the ways in which self-driving cars will be entangled in their environments.

Refreshments will be provided