Hello all! My name is Gabe Haddad. I’m a Junior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Political Science. I was initially drawn to this course because I’m a huge car nut, and have been sort of self-teaching myself about the automotive world for as long as I can remember, but have never had the chance to do something pertaining to cars in a classroom setting. I have a solid base knowledge of cars and the industry, but with more of a bias towards performance and the technology that can help a car go fast, not necessarily the technology that makes a car smarter, so this is definitely an exciting space. At the moment there are a couple areas that have been mentioned in class that stood out to me for areas I could want to go deeper in. One is the redesigning of infrastructure. I think that we will need to do a massive overhaul of how our road and highway system works. With robots behind the wheel, we would in theory not need stoplights, road signs, or street lights. If there ends up being more cars on the road in the future, our cities will need to accommodate that. If there ends up being less cars, we will likely shrink our road system into something less expensive to maintain. This is an article that gives a few different scientists predictions on how infrastructure will change with the advent of autonomous cars, and they are all quite different, suggesting that we are far from reaching a consensus on what influence new technology will have on our road layout. (https://www.wired.com/2016/10/heres-self-driving-cars-will-transform-city/) I think it would be very interesting to delve deeper into this topic and try to come out of the semester with a hypothesis of my own for what the future image of automotive infrastructure looks like.
I also find the legal aspect of autonomous cars interesting. My favorite classes at Tufts so far have been about Constitutional Law. I’ve found it very interesting to look at the intersection of technological advances and our 300 year old legal system. The Supreme Court has dealt with cases involving cell phones, thermal imaging devices, and GPS trackers; technologies that were unfathomable when the Constitution was drafted but which the Court has had to apply it to. I’m sure that in the next couple years we will see some cases reach the Supreme Court, and I’m interested to see how the justices apply the Constitution to artificial intelligence. I also looked into the recent bill that passed that we mentioned in class and came out with some topics that could be interesting to look into. Something that stood out on the bill was that Congress created subcommittees for a set of sub topics like cybersecurity and testing. The testing category led me to some questions such as whether autonomous cars be allowed to test on public roads populated by human driven cars? And from that question, is it ethical to force people to drive on roads with untested robotic cars without their consent? (here’s a link to the bill: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3388/text/eh)
Another area I think is interesting is the very engrained American driving culture and how it will clash with autonomous driving. I have observed that Americans believe that our vast network of highways and the ability to travel on our own watch. It is a way that Americans express their freedom and seems to be intertwined with the ideological pillars of this country. I’m curious how this country in particular will react when autonomous cars stop being a question of “when will they arrive” and becomes a choice that one has to make between normal and autonomous. I think this could also relate to the problem that self driving cars work best when there are only other self driving cars on the road. Once they are prominent enough, will the government force human operated cars off the road? Will the people accept that? I think this is a broad topic but with some further research and narrowing could be a very interesting social inquiry.
Besides these two topics though, I really like the idea of going in depth into a subject that lies more outside of the academics that I’ve been involved in so far. I don’t have much technical background but I’d love to go into a more about a more scientific area of self-driving cars, and I can lean on the knowledge I have of cars already to make the transition easier. I hope to get a sense of the other areas that have been brought up by the other students in the class and see if there’s a topic that would push me a little more out of my comfort zone then say the legal side.