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Debates
April 13, 2019
All Hail the Driverless Car!
All Hail the Driverless Car

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What if the next car you buy or taxi you hail drives itself? Driverless cars, also known as autonomous or self-driving vehicles, are currently in test-drive mode around the globe. Proponents claim this innovation will drastically improve our lives, with fewer auto accidents, less traffic congestion and carbon emissions, as well as greater accessibility for the elderly and those with physical limitations. Opponents, however, argue that autonomous vehicles will increase traffic, render current infrastructure obsolete, and jeopardize millions of auto-related jobs. Worse yet, they say, these cars are nothing more than a computer-on-wheels, meaning an error in programming by developers, or hacking by nefarious actors, could lead to disaster. Should we proceed with caution? Or embrace the driverless car? This debate is presented in partnership with the Adam Smith Society. The Adam Smith Society — a project of the Manhattan Institute — is an expansive, chapter-based network of MBA students, professionals, and business leaders who work to foster debate about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism.

Post-Debate
Winner

For the Motion
89 %
10 %
Against the Motion
2 %
Undecided
Pre-Debate
For the Motion
69 %
17 %
Against the Motion
14 %
Undecided
Breakdown
For the Motion
10% - Swung From the Against Side
65% - Remained For the For Side
13% - Swung From Undecided
Against the Motion
7% - Remained For the Against Side
3% - Swung From the For Side
1% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
1% - Swung From the Against Side
1% - Swung From the For Side
1% - Remained Undecided
Post-Debate
Winner

For the Motion
80 %
20 %
Undecided
0 %
Against the Motion
Pre-Debate
For the Motion
80 %
20 %
Undecided
0 %
Against the Motion
Breakdown
For the Motion
0% - Swung From the Against Side
80% - Remained For the For Side
0% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung From the Against Side
0% - Swung From the For Side
20% - Remained Undecided
Against the Motion
0% - Remained For the Against Side
0% - Swung From the For Side
0% - Swung From Undecided
About The Debaters
For The Motion
An image of Amitai Bin-Nun
Amitai Bin-Nun − VP of Autonomous Vehicles, Securing America's Future Energy
Amitai Bin-Nun is a recognized leader in the autonomous vehicles space with expertise in regulation, strategy, and... read bio
An image of Chris Urmson
Chris Urmson − Co-Founder & CEO, Aurora
Chris Urmson is the co-founder and CEO of Aurora, a company that is building self-driving technology to deliver the... read bio
Against The Motion
An image of Meredith Broussard
Meredith Broussard − Data Journalist & Author, “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World”
Meredith Broussard is a data journalism professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York... read bio
An image of Ashley Nunes
Ashley Nunes − Senior Research Associate, Harvard Law & MIT
Dr. Ashley Nunes studies transportation safety, regulatory policy, and behavioral economics. He earned his Ph.D. in... read bio
Main Points
For The Motion
  • Autonomous vehicles are safe, sustainable, and energy-efficient. They remove the possibility of human error and can help reduce traffic and pollution.
  • Driverless cars could give humans the gift of time: Instead of operating a vehicle, commuters will be able to focus on conducting meetings, reading, eating, and resting. 
  • For people with physical limitations, transportation presents many obstacles. Driverless cars can solve these problems by providing them with greater accessibility and mobility. 
Against The Motion
  • Trusting technologies to drive at high velocities raises safety concerns, and there are already instances of self-driving malfunctions leading to injuries and even fatalities. 
  • Automation is already hurting American workers and autonomous vehicles could add to this issue, potentially taking jobs away from professional drivers all over the country.
  • It is undesirable to leave an ethical judgement, such as a decision of whether to injure a passenger to save a bystander, up to a robot. Only humans can respond and react to these unique situations.