We are living in an age when increasing automation means that ethical decisions are being incorporated into complex systems using algorithms and rules. We are having to think about how we want machines to behave in scenarios that engineers have not had to consider before.
Nowhere is this more true than in the field of transport. Autonomy in road vehicles is challenging engineers, lawyers, insurers and others to re-think previously accepted principles and ideas. On railways, principles about the safe movement of trains that were once regarded as inviolable are being questioned, bringing benefits but also causing us to think afresh about “how safe is safe enough”. This is not just about safety, however. In transport and many other fields of engineering and design, we are constantly encountering fresh issues that demand urgent, ethically-based answers. Respect for our planet, the environment and natural resources are topics for engineers must incorporate into their work, whether it is in the context of a major project such as Crossrail or HS2, or in finding practicable alternatives to the use of plastics for consumables.
This Seminar is the first undertaken jointly by the IEEE Systems Council Chapter in the UK & Ireland and the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE). In it, we are seeking to explore the underpinning principles associated with these ethical issues from various perspectives, raise awareness and foster collaboration between stakeholders. Our goal is to instigate an Ethical Value based approach to the design and delivery of products, systems and services that will become entrenched as safety is today.
We have a strong line-up of speakers, and there will be a panel discussion at the end of the evening in order that all attendees can participate in the debate.