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MSU Hausser Lecture: Safety of Autonomous Cars
October 1, 2019 @ 5:30pm
An author and nationally recognized expert on the ethics of computer science and technology will discuss “Will Autonomous Cars Ever Be Safe Enough?” at Montana State University’s annual Hausser Lecture set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Hager Auditorium in the Museum of the Rockies.
Deborah G. Johnson will deliver the lecture, which is free and open to the public. Johnson recently retired as the Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics in the Science, Technology, and Society Program in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. Best known for her work on computer ethics and engineering ethics, Johnson’s research examines the ethical, social and policy implications of technology, especially information technology.
In her lecture Johnson will discuss what level of safety should be required for autonomous cars, which are increasingly found on the nation’s roads and highways. Johnson said that, because autonomous cars are an emerging technology, it is difficult to know what level of safety can be achieved. Johnson said the larger question to be asked is, “How should we think about safety and standards for autonomous cars?”
“Answering this question is not just a matter of developing physical components that operate reliably,” she writes. “Achieving safety in autonomous cars will require reliable machines as well as reliable social behavior, practices and arrangements.”
Johnson is the author or editor of seven books, including “Engineering Ethics: Contemporary and Enduring Debates” to be published by Yale University Press in 2020. In addition to her books, Johnson has published more than 100 papers in a variety of journals and edited volumes.
Johnson received the Joseph Weizenbaum Award for lifelong contributions to information and computer ethics from the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology in 2015. She received the John Barwise prize from the American Philosophical Association in 2004; the Sterling Olmsted Award from the Liberal Education Division of the American Society for Engineering Education in 2001; and the Making a Difference Award from the ACM Special Interest Group on Computers and Society in 2000.
After her lecture, Johnson will take questions. A reception will follow. Doors open at 5 p.m. Johnson also will conduct a master class with MSU students on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Johnson’s lecture, which is the university’s 41st annual Hausser Lecture, is sponsored by the Margaret and Harry Hausser Fund for Excellence and the Department of History and Philosophy in the College of Letters and Science. The purpose of the Hausser Lecture is to bring to MSU distinguished scholars in the arts and humanities.