Should Autonomous vehicles (AVs) be more widely introduced into Society?

Recent advances in technology have allowed for a much faster rate of development for driverless cars. These leaps in progress have led to a shifting perception. Regardless of the growing push for technology, there are still a large number of ethical issues that autonomous cars currently face. If these are not solved or at the very least considered, there could be major ramifications for society, industry and the government in the near future.

Autonomous vehicles should not be widely introduced into society

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Taxi, vehicle-rental and transit companies are openly planning to replace human drivers once it’s feasible.  A Columbia University study suggested that with a fleet of 9,000 AVs, Uber could upend every taxicab in New York City. AVs do come at a cost: fewer transport-dependent jobs. It seems a recapitulating trend of technology advances broadcast the enthusiasts buying Google cars but is inured to the workers shed in hundreds of thousands. Nearly 4 million vehicle-based jobs; for schools, cities, or long-distance travel, are at risk by the next decade for the transport industry. Is this a trade-off actually worth making? Are the societal benefits holistically greater with automation of transportation labour concurrently eliminating jobs? Or are the well-paid jobs in transportation worth retaining as an essential pathway to the middle class?

Considering the current 40 million conventional vehicles road users, there exists the difficulty of road sharing between autonomous cars and conventional cars. AVs will have to contend with humans on the road with both parties having a different sense of judgement. AVs are designed to use machine learning from different driving scenarios but traffic mixing with humans requires both natural intuition and the ability to improvise in distinct scenarios. A study by UMTRI revealed that with traffic mixing with humans, driverless cars have a “higher crash rate per million miles travelled than conventional vehicles” although the accidents were not the fault of the driverless cars. Is it right to risk injury and life by placing both types of cars on the road?

Although, the emergence of driverless cars could mitigate 90% of traffic accidents caused by human error, they may pose a higher risk of disastrous accidents caused by technology failure or third parties (hackers) with the intention of causing road chaos. Advanced testing on technology can increase its reliability to a high degree but technology can be fallible and unpredictable. Google’s autonomous vehicles have already experienced 272 technology failures over 424000 miles during test-driving due to strange sensors readings, communication failure or problems in monitoring systems.


If the Trolley problem is considered in the context of driverless cars, some serious questions must be answered. If the car is involved in an unavoidable accident, should the car protect the driver, or sacrifice him/her? This action can have major ramifications, and furthermore asks if programs and companies should have the power to make these decisions. It seems rather strange to place our lives in the hands of a computer, as our ability to judge a situation is an invaluable skill that we possess, and utilise fairly well. Would consumers and the public be comfortable using a driverless car, knowing full well that they may be ‘sacrificed’ to preserve the life of another?

Autonomous vehicles should be more widely introduced into society

Driverless cars will definitely not exhibit the same driving style as regular cars, however there exists an opportunity to create new laws, rules and infrastructure surrounding driverless cars. Therefore, governments can create moral and ethical laws from first principle regarding driverless cars. Hopefully these laws will be rational and align with the general public’s moral compass. For example it would be silly and dangerous to other motorists to mandate that driverless cars must follow the law to the letter. Driverless car lanes or mandated behaviour in certain situations are rational outcomes.

Similarly to a new driver on the roads, most judgements and actions taken will be wrong. However the algorithm will optimise its internal machine learning parameters, just as a new driver would learn. Google for example has over 2 million kilometres of test data for thousands of driving scenarios from which algorithms can learn. This allows driverless cars to correctly identify a wide variety of scenarios, and reduces the likelihood of ‘un-human’ driving characteristics. For autonomous cars to be practical they only need to be better than humans, and in a way they already are. Driverless cars don’t get distracted, fatigued or overconfident. People can also develop poor driving skills, often as a consequence of bad training or habits. This can be just as detrimental as bad algorithms.

The public perception that autonomous vehicles are always required to make the right ethical judgement is flawed. Countering the Trolley problem, by definition there is no ethically correct answer. Humans would not always be able to make the right ethical choice either, so why should robots be held to a different standard? The probability of such an oddly specific dilemma occurring is extremely low, so practically speaking it is not worth investigating. Furthermore, 75% of respondents agreed with the utilitarian view of preserving life, showing that the general public’s opinion aligns with the logical decision argument. Self-driving cars do not need to make the correct decision; they just need to not make the wrong one.


Technology causes changes in society, and the introduction of the driverless car is no difference. As history has shown time and time again technology will replace the mundane and repetitive tasks that humans have been doing, it is an inevitable fact. Take farming as an example. In the U.S, 90% of the population used to be involved in farming, now only 2.6% of the American population are involved in farming. The invention of the tractor and increases in productivity has allowed an increase in quality of life. The same thing will happen with autonomous cars. Just as people expressed their luddite opinion towards textile equipment during the 1800s, people with a similar view will express their doubt towards driverless cars.

Now that you have heard both sides of the argument regarding AVs, what do you think? Would you be content on buying one?

12: Tayo Opanubi, Dee Raji, Samad Adeniran, Nicholas Tucker

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44 thoughts on “Should Autonomous vehicles (AVs) be more widely introduced into Society?

  1. I believe that we are still a long way off implementing AVs into society, and I would not trust an AV currently. However for areas such as transport and farming, where the factor of human life is reduced/eliminated there is scope for implementation. I do strongly agree with the security argument put forward, as many cases in the past have shown just how vulnerable these systems can be to attacks.

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  2. great article. This is certainly a very current issue and, despite the numerous advantages pointed out here such as how a driverless car is not affected by human error, there is a lot of discussion to be had before we can see the wider implementation. Problems such as hackers that could cause accidents directly feeds into the fear I think many people have of leaving our safety up to machines. These are probably misguided; fuelled by futuristic action films where the people have got too carried away with advancing technology having not taken the time to think through the impacts on humans. But it is clear that, as the article points out, although we are still in the very early stages of this technology, there will be doubta and issues to be tackled but inevitably it seems soon driverless cars will be commonplace

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  3. Personally I can’t wait for self driving cars. What government needs to do is slowly phase our regular cars in favour of these accident reducing, carbon footprint depleting cars.
    As for the workers in the industry now, they’ll just have to do what others have always done when innovation has occurred time and time again: learn new relevant skills for the world they live in

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  4. Driverless cars are indeed the future of the automobile industry but presently I would not consider buying one as I believe that the time is not yet right. It’ is a technology that is still to be proved as inflalable. 75% may seem a lot but honestly not enough when a human life is involved. Government laws may help but not right now

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  5. Although AVs are designed to make driving stress free, I don’t think I would be confident in them enough to drive me around making decisions based on some algorithms. AVs are vulnerable to terrorism. With the security issues faced everywhere in the world, these vehicles can be used as weapons for terrorist attacks. The pros and cons should be considered before implementing AVs. Great article!

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  6. I like the way this piece raises the issues around automated driving vehicles.. I for one I am very hopeful for the advantages the adoption of new technology brings. This is not to ignore the associated learning curve. If there’s anything years on innovation has taught us is that: given time, humans will figure the best way of using technology.
    Being the Technophile that I am, I would buy one. But of course want the option to override with manual input.
    I trust technology. And at some point expect technology to conveniently handle all of the driving scenarios we may face, but please give me an off button.

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  7. I really liked this article it addressed issues that will eventually become part of our everyday lives and increased my knowledge in the subject matter.

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  8. Great Article,I agree with the fact that ,AV cars have lots of advantages ,but they also have disadvantages , hacking ,wrong algorithm input,maybe the world would ready for AV cars in the nearest future but not now

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  9. Personally I can’t wait for the large commercialism of driverless cars and would buy one when the time comes. For every argument against it, it is a matter of time before it becomes the norm and in term of social economic consequence, it would only affect one generation after that human capacity would be diverted to other engagements like with every automated system that as come and would come.

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  10. I think the use of autonomous vehicles is inevitable. The glitches can be fixed with more test scenarios and the job replacement issue will force us to think of more ways to prove we’re smarter than robots lol

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  11. The article is very interesting to discuss the future of driveless cars. There many advantages if it becomes real such as stress free, less human dependency. On the other hand there are issues to be addressed before such air pollution, reducing a number of vehicles, unemployment and security. I’m not sure AV technology will solve these issues it probably will increase concerns about security, unemployment and roads.

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  12. Great article. Eventually, autonomous cars, after a lot of testing and improvement in security will become commercialised. I would personally buy one if I can afford it but like all technology, it isn’t excluded from being subject to failure

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  13. Whatever jobs lost in the transportation industry can be regained in the manufacturing industry.
    And I don’t buy the sentiment of keeping archaic technologies just because we want to keep humans in jobs.
    Constant self development would always keep you ahead.
    I’m for the driverless cars

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  14. Lovely article by the way and quite convincing at that,though the advantages are there regarding safety,accuracy and all that but the setbacks will be alarming, we have about 8billiion people in the world and these cars will replace alot of people next will come robots working at restaurants and humans are out of job, I think there should be limit to technological growth and with that I do not support self driving cars, personally I’ll prefer driving myself.

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  15. For a categorically good but lazy driver like me, the introduction of the AV would be a welcome addition to the range of transportation options available.
    But as has been explained, the ethical dilema between scheduled and anticipated driving is a grey area as the security of life is the deciding factor for supremacy of either option. Predictable driving is preferred if that is the ultimate norm but it isn’t and henceforth the potential lack of maneuverability in a dangerous situation could be the difference between life and death. Intuitive thinking is not a skill we can transfer to machines and there stems the basis of my concern with AVs.
    On the potential economic fall out for humans as a result of automated work processes, cheaper is good for the producer but it gradually draws us to the point where we try to determine who is useful/not. That is not a decision anyone should dictate without the fairness of an attempted effort.

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  16. Apart from the fact that there will be a rapid rise in unemployment levels, a major downside to large-scale adoption of AV’s lay in the area of safety; though automated systems have been proven to significantly reduce accidents by eliminating the possibility of human error, system malfunctions are still quite widespread in fully automated systems; therefore a higher level of risk is potentially associated with programmable vehicles because they are still at some level, susceptible to human error during manufacture and programming.

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  17. This article explores the innovation of Avs and the style of writing presents the idea with great insight. AV cars offer less anxiety but raises questions that have been tackled above. The dilenma lingers if to hold back technology at the expense of ethics which in my opinion is not feasible, it is the measure of balance that counts. Go AV cars!

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  18. This is a very good article and it has enhanced my knowledge about Autonomous Vehicles. The advantages of AVs are wonderful but there should be a manual override, in case technology fails. For me, it all depends on the safety and security of AVs. One of the main issues AVs will face, will be security but with time and constant test of the technology this can be avoided. The big question is, are we ready to accept such Technology globally due to its disadvantages like increase in unemployment, safety and security, availability, cost, and most importantly, Trust.

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  19. Although autonomous vehicles could make transportion easier and more efficient, they pose risks in terms of ethical issues and safety. Driving is a task that requires a lot of intuition which is impossible to program unto these AVs. The road scenarios these AVs would be put into are unpredictable and no amount of programming can cater for them. So irrespective of the advantages of these AVs, the safety of road users should come first!

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  20. The major downside with this is safety and ethical issues. Unemployment should not be a major reason to limit how much we explore the possibilities of technology. AVs would be faced with so many unpredictable road scenarios which humans can usually tackle with intuition. A human trait that I think is impossible to program unto AVs. As far as human beings are involved, safety should be the number one concern!

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  21. Although the future is in the Machines…we have to retain a manual override function like Duke rightly mentioned. We can’t help the job loss…the world has to move on. I am a strong advocate of automation as it improves performance especially with respect to Artificial Intelligence. The era of AVs is here and there is virtually nothing we can do about it but to embrace it. With it’s advent, laws guiding its application will be enacted and perhaps dedicated routes will be established as the society observes and gets used to it. There will be errors and challenges of course but these will be minimised with time. Finally, I think I will simply build one for myself as I enjoy technology at it’s best! 😉

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  22. AV’s are the future irrespective of its pros and cons (that is an established fact), viewing this scenario currently it should be noted hat if there is no alternative means to tackle the effect of unemployment that will suffice from AV introduction then i oppose this.
    My human intelligence made me leave this comment, i don’t believe i have a reset or override button. if its not broken don’t fix it.

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  23. Thinking about the future, while I agree that Av’s should replace human beings driving (Not me in anyway because I love to drive and would always drive), I believe there should be a way to create jobs for the millions of people who would lose their day jobs to AI computers. It would be a shame for what the cartoon above depicts if it happens. In the case of creating laws, machines shouldn’t be given the stiff penalty because they are machines. They won’t always be right. Sanctions should instead be placed on their manufacturers so that they don’t drop their standards or compromise. You wouldn’t want someone hacking your driverless car and causing a serious accident.

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  24. Fantastic article. I look forward to seeing AV’s in Nigeria. I am really curious about how the technology will work with remarkable drivers we have here.

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  25. A wonderful article. We have reached a point where we can’t discount the fact that new technologies such as AVs would greatly change the future of transportation. Whatever flaws or risks such as security and algorithm failure there might be at the moment can be improved upon over time. If drones can be effectively deployed to prosecute wars, why not give AVs to make life better.

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  26. Personally, I am a lover of cars and fast cars at that therefore i enjoy being in control of a steering and pushing the car to limits within my limits obviously… “Lol”… The idea of having driverless cars is scary to be honest. It takes a human a certain amount of time to understand and perfect driving cultures and learn the most basic parts of driving. It also takes years of experience for a human to distinctively qualify as an expert driver. As a computer analyst and also a driver, I must say to create computer added algorithms in the form of artificial intelligence for an automobile to detect and understand different driving scenarios might work in a perfect society where all drivers obey traffic regulations to the letter. Sincerely, i come from a third world country where putting a car on the road is a risk on its own, not because of your inability to drive but because of the hazards posed by other road user. We escape near accident occurrences by neglect caused by both ourselves and other road users. Now, To tell me a computer will effectively save me from dodging an on coming vehicle that has a break failure or controlling my own car to safety after a break failure. This I am not very confident in and a lot more of other driving hazards. To answer your question on whether i will buy one …. HELL NO !!!! and if Uber decides to use driverless cabs. I’d ditch cabs forever. If i have to be in newyork where the traffic is hella crazy… Then i can use the Uber cause i’m sure i can easily jump out of the car if it decides to malfunction or the database where all of the A.I. is stored decides to act up. Dolapo Raji … I hope it wasn’t so long for you tho but i enjoyed commenting on it. Thanks

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  27. It could be difficult to accept by many at the moment, nevertheless, AV’s may soon be introduced in some part of the developed societies. Machines make work easier and are often controlled by man. There should be no worries because the driverless cars would not really be driverless after all.

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  28. I think autonomous vehicles will reduce accident level. Accidents are most caused by fatigue or lack of concentration which is common to human driven cars.

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  29. This is a great article! Hmmmm as much as there are so many advantages as regards AVS, the disadvantages are a lot: many people’s job will be taken away from them; people might not necessarily get these cars because they are not used to self-driving cars.

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  30. Hmmm… This is a very huge debate that might not end with the regular “…I hope I’ve been able to convince and not to confuse….”
    Anyway, in as much as AVs have numerous pros, which I totally agree with, I still have two questions:

    1. I might be wrong, but I believe AVs works with GPS, traffic lights & “regular” factors… what happens in the case of road blocks/diversions? speed breakers/bumps? Obstructions, Pot-holes & ditches/bad sections on the road? would the AV be sensitive enough to consider those irregular & “unforeseen” factors?

    2. What alternative jobs would be provided for the millions of people who would be rendered jobless? Which most likely would increase crime rates.

    That being said, if these won’t be issues, then I think we’re good to go.

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  31. I believe that despite the efficiency is self driven cars I would prefer to be driven by a human . The automated vehicles have their pros and cons but the amount of people that will be put out of work alone is scary talk less of having your car taking over by a third party.

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  32. Autonomous vehicles should be deploy into the society so as to reduce level of accidents caused by human driven vehicles. Most recent vehicles have good sensing ability which helps it to maneuvering potholes, avoid collision etc. So I think the technology of AV is a good one and should be deployed to the society.

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  33. To be honest Autonomous Vehicles are the Future but one thing that scares me is how do developing countries like Nigeria Introduce it to the society. A lot still needs to be done before the Av are introduced.

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  34. Great article and thought provoking. Would love to see how this will come to play though. Technological advancement is very important in human life and everyday activities but its scary the way robots and machines are being replaced with humans. Personally I would love to drive myself.

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  35. With both sides relevantly examined, It’s easy to see the rise of the AVs in future years. Now although doesn’t seem like the right time.

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  36. With both sides reliably examined, the introduction of AVs appears to be inevitable in future years. Prior to the perfection of idea, I’ll rather drive

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  37. I feel like AV’s should not be introduced. It’s great for a while but like all technology is subject to failure. Planes are not on auto-pilot throughout a journey, neither should cars. Also, a large number of people making a living just by driving vehicles. If buses no longer need drivers, no cab drivers needed, a large number of people will be left unemployed. That’s the last thing people need.

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  38. Quite an interesting topic. I do think the introduction good quite beneficial to humanity regardless of the potential safety risks which every piece of technology faces. Employment would be another large concern if introduced however, i do think how they are introduced largely effects the perception of introduction. If AVs for instance are used for more emergency purposes that require immediate responses they may pose to be a large benefit also if used for people who have disabilities AVs again posses a large benefit. I think introduction would be great if carried out the right way.

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  39. The point in the article comparing opposition to the 19th century is highly relevant. The simple fact is that AV implementation is all but inevitable, and simply rejecting them out of hand will be neither wise nor successful. The jobs argument doesn’t really hold water. Even if redundancies are made, the cost of the new transport could be dramatically reduced, which would have economic benefits overall. The priority should be on job creation in new sectors. Instead of arguing against AV, people should be thinking about how society will cope in the short term. Therefore the employment concerns should not really feature in the debate.

    The safety of autonomous vehicles is clearly of the utmost importance, whichever moral framework is being used. The main advantage of human drivers is their ability to respond to unpredictable situations. Computers cannot be programmed for every eventuality. Even ‘learning’ AI systems will make mistakes at least once before they learn.
    For example, if a bin bag blew onto the road, a human driver might keep going. A computer would have to err on the side of caution. It might attempt an emergency stop, which could lead to a more dangerous and inconvenient situation. All human drivers understand that running over a bin bag is not the end of the world, but a computer might not be able to tell the difference between a plastic bag and something more dangerous.
    Alternatively, if an armed gunman was to open fire nearby, the autonomous vehicle might just sit there at the traffic light obeying the rules, totally unaware that the safest thing to do would actually be to break the law and drive off.

    While these examples are outlandish, there is always the possibility that the system will go wrong under unprecedented circumstances (e.g. in a natural disaster, terrorist attack etc.), and this could potentially cause mass deaths. The AVs should prove themselves to be far superior to human drivers before they should be used widely. In other words, the requirements should be more stringent on robot drivers than human ones, in order to compensate for their inability to implement common-sense judgement in more exotic situations.

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  40. AVs just like other forms of innovation in technology over the past century will eventually take effect.
    However, the pros and cons should be broken down and meditated on before making any groundbreaking decision. I do not expect that it would be pioneered where technology is not at its best, pretty sure by the time it is available for purchase in this part of the world over 50% percent of the rest of the world will already be constant users.

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  41. Truthfully speaking this is quite an interesting write up.. Kudos to the authors!.. Initially to a large extent i could quite agree with the replacement of conventional vehicles with AV’s but then looking at it from an environmental perspective, what difference does it make? Are AV’s going to be less energy intensive? How are the emissions going to be different from that of conventional vehicles? Or is it just putting more cars on roads and adding to mobile pollution??
    After a critical tot on this, considering other factors as well, like job opportunities amongst others mentioned in previous comments, ild rather stick to driving myself anywhere than having my heart at the top of my head in an AV vehicle.. Whether we like it or not, as much as humans are bound to make mistakes, technologies are bound to fail.. I laffed at the part of this write up that mentioned “sacrificial”.. Indeed!! Ild rather prefer to take responsibility for my actions in any situation than blame it on a system.. So i say a continuous YES to conventional vehicles with more improvements and NO to AV’s..

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  42. We live in a world where responsibility and accountability are paramount to prevent chaos and maintain order. I believe the main question that is to be answered regarding the acceptability of AVs and for that that matter any similar Tech is; “who decides, and who takes responsibility for the decision”, since traffic decisions always affect human lives. Until this question is adequately satisfied, it will be a high risk venture, which may scare off many insurance companies, and as a result make them even more expensive to use.

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  43. Why are there ongoing efforts to override the power of the brain to make constructive judgements? Should technology replace everything? Can’t we take responsibilities for our own actions? Doesn’t it give us the opportunity for continuous improvement for our very own lives? I strongly disagree with the deployment of AVs for various reasons. One of such is safety issues already highlighted in previous comments. Now, highlighting on public and political perceptions of this technology, a lot of factors come into play. As far as I’m concerned, people make decisions based on previous experience or knowledge. What happens to a lay person who makes a ‘pseudo’ opinion about this technology without having any knowledge about it? Will that be a basis for a ‘yes/no’ response to this technology in the political arena? Let us give technology a break!! Rather train and re-train people, improve current structures and help build a safe atmosphere. I rest my case…:)
    Well done to the authors of this write-up! very interesting

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