Every day, nearly 180,000 people move into cities worldwide. In order to be able to cope with this growth in population, the cities need to become more sustainable and more efficient. How? By networking as Larissa Suzuki believes. The computer scientist and data analyst is a researcher at University College London (UCL) and is currently investigating the “city of the future”. In the scenario of a smart city, a network of cars, traffic lights and road users would exist that would seamlessly communicate, interact and exchange data in real time with each other.
MQ! Innovation Summit 2018: How man and machines will co-exist
The mobility of the future. A complex topic with many facets. At the Audi MQ! Innovation Summit, many prominent pioneers, mavericks and visionaries have shared their perceptions with us and called them into question. Let’s zoom into the city of the future:
Data facilitates social integration
Smart and connected cities can help make mobility accessible to everyone in society, as many challenges only become apparent when all the data on the networked city has been collected. “A city is not a smart city if it only serves part of the population,” Suzuki explains her idea of social mobility. How can a city meet the needs of the blind? Or those of wheelchair users or the elderly?
Digital solutions are created: technologies that enable social integration. Today, for instance, there are already apps that can help the blind to navigate through a city. A navigation system for pedestrians, which uses voice recordings to describe the environment, gives directions and conveys traffic information in real time.
To make this possible, many processes have to be automated – to the point at which machines can manage themselves. Hence, in the smart cities of the future, autonomous cars will communicate with each other and create new opportunities for mobility.
"Machines will never be able to replace human beings"
However, the artificial generation of knowledge has its limits. “We will never be able to understand people’s intentions,” Suzuki explains. And so there will never be a standardized artificial intelligence for autonomous cars. Some decisions just simply have to be made by a human being’s inner system: the conscience. A person’s conscience is a highly complex process that is based on a individual perceptions and values. “This is not something we can dictate to a machine. We are so unique that machines will never be able to replace human beings,” Suzuki clarifies.
By contrast, science fiction author Cory Doctorow sees the potential of autonomous driving: “Just because it is difficult, does not mean it isn’t necessary.” In his vision of future mobility, autonomous cars will play a central role in making traffic safer, based on standardized artificial intelligence. But safety must still go hand in hand with a high level of transparency. Doctorow explains: “At the moment we have reached a point at which we are not even able to understand car manufacturers’ configurations inside an autonomous car – this frightens me.”
Audi workshop sharpens awareness
The relationship between humans and machines in automated and autonomous driving was one of the areas addressed in a workshop organized by Audi and the start-up company Autonomous Intelligent Driving at the MQ! Summit. Audi has been dealing with the ethical issues of autonomous driving for many years and, with this in mind, has developed an interdisciplinary network within the scope of the beyond initiative that includes international AI experts from science and business. The so-called “dilemma situations” play a central role in public debate. This may, for example, involve the following scenario: an autonomous car finds itself in a situation in which an accident is unavoidable. If it swerves to the left, it will hit a child. If it swerves to the right, it will hit an elderly lady. What decision should the autonomous car make?
One of the key arguments on this topic at the MQ! workshop is: “It is highly unlikely that such a dilemma situation will occur in this way,” says Miklos Kiss, Head of Pre-Development of Automated Driving at Audi. However, in the event that it does happen like this, the automobile manufacturers need guidelines. “We are also taking the dilemma debate as an opportunity to deal with other situations in which the car may in future be faced with difficult decisions,” says Kiss at MQ! and elaborates further: “For instance, what if there is a garden fence on the left, where one doesn’t know what lies behind? Can the autonomous car head towards it?”
Audi, Autonomous Intelligent Driving and the beyondinitiative are incorporating the ideas and insights gained at the MQ! Summit into their practical work. The aim is to take unresolved issues seriously – without losing sight of the great potential of new technologies – as autonomous driving really can considerably increase road safety.
Audi brings thought leaders to the MQ! Innovation Summit
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, autonomous and electric mobility. Those are the main topics of Audi’s MQ! Innovation Summit, to be held on November 8 and 9. 700 thought leaders, including cofounder of Apple Computer Steve Wozniak, will convene in Ingolstadt to discuss a “mobility quotient” (MQ) as a measure of a person’s or organization’s mobility.Read more
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