In the article “Driverless Vehicles: A Vision for Singapore’s Transport” the Ministry of Transport (2018) suggests the benefits of implementing Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology into the future of Singapore’s transport system. AV technology will bring about benefits such as a reduction in traffic and might have significant value to Singapore’s future town-planning. The Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI), set up by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Land Transport Authority (LTA), will be working together with the new Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS) to further research on the benefits of AV technology.
Currently, numerous autonomous vehicle trials are being conducted in Singapore to increase expertise in the technology. Advancements in AV technology would greatly improve Singapore’s transport systems leading to increased productivity, reduced labor costs, and better safety in many industries. Based on the article, Singapore has recognized the benefits of autonomous vehicles (AVs), however, there are concerns regarding the extent of these benefits, hidden risks and consequences that it brings about such as cybersecurity threats, privacy issues and unemployment.
Firstly, cybersecurity threats are one of the biggest risks in AVs. Based on an article “Jeep owners urged to update their cars after hackers take remote control”, two researchers demonstrated how hackers can easily remotely access and gain control of the vehicles through a loophole in the vehicle’s internet enabled software. AVs are highly attractive targets for hackers due to the amount of information stored on its systems. This information can be sold for financial gains, used to cause harm or even used by criminals. Many studies have also shown that AVs are more prone to hacking as the vehicle electronic systems have greater control of the vehicle and as a result, the driver will be unable to take back control during a cyber-attack.
Secondly, AVs poses a significant threat to various industries in the near future. According to an article “What will the drivers do when the cars are driverless?”, AV would increase productivity and reduce labor cost but would result in drivers being unemployed. These drivers could be redeployed to other jobs such as monitoring of the AV systems, but it would not be able to make up for the huge amount of jobs lost. The overall economic gains from the introduction of AVs are positive, but the redeployment of workers will have significant negative effects on low skill workers, as they would have to find other jobs which they are not familiar with, resulting in lower wage and inequality.
Lastly, privacy issues have been a concern raised. AVs are highly dependent on information collected from various instruments such as sensors to ensure normal operations of the vehicle. This information are further shared with other vehicles or infrastructures through communication networks to ensure efficient traffic control. Currently, there are no clear details regarding how this information is used and who can access them which could lead to inappropriate usage. For example, marketing and advertising companies could utilize the user’s travel history and tailor advertising accordingly. Although there are vast benefits that come with AVs, Singapore also needs to look into the negative consequences. There is a need for Singapore to further research and come up solutions to solve the cybersecurity and privacy issues as well as the impact of industry disruption.
With the cybersecurity and privacy issue solved, the speed of adopting the new technology will increase as consumer confidence rises. As for industry disruption, more employees will become obsolete as technology improves. Hence, Singapore will have to look for ways to help those affected by the implementation of AVs. Some methods to consider could be encouraging employees to upgrade their skills through attending various courses. This will enable those affected to find new jobs easily.
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