Driverless discussions FAQs

Who is funding you?

Nesta. Their website says, “Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time.” For the programme we are funded under see here . We appear on their website, along with the four other projects that were awarded grants here . Thinking Box is a not for profit organisation run by volunteers. The Nesta funding will go towards volunteer expenses, administration, training and venue hire.

Why are you doing this?

Thinking Box exists to engage people in fun and stimulating discussions on matters of social importance in local communities. We have a varied programme, we talk about just about anything. This project, a partnership with Talk Shop* and Nesta is a chance to get more people talking and we hope cultivate an increase in public influence on important policy in the future.

*Talk Shop is a new way of discussing and reaching agreement about the issues that really matter to us all – local, national, international.

Why have we chosen the topic of driverless or autonomous vehicles (AVs)?

Driverless cars is a topic that some know little about but is one which could have ahuge impact on our lives in the near future. It is a fascinating topic with many important social questions such as

  • Who is to blame when there is an accident?
  • What about the impact on drivers’ jobs?
  • Who would you trust to make the right ‘life-saving’ algorithm programming decision? Is it companies? The Government? People?

On the one hand, AVs could happen and there is enough known about them that we can start to understand them and come to a view. On the other hand, the uncertainty means that what a world full of AVs will look like is still mostly unknown. In turn, this also means that it could be influenced by citizens expressing their view through the democratic process.

What will you do with the results? How will they make a difference?

Influencing policymakers is not the main aim of the project. But of course it encourages people to take part if they know that the results can make a difference. We will send our results to, and engage with:

  • Nesta themselves
  • Stakeholder organisations, such as those that support people with sight problems; taxi drivers; local transport authorities; planners; etc.
  • Interested parts of the media
  • Academics who study and write on this issue
  • Civil servants and politicians involved with the issues

In this way, we may have some effect on the climate of opinion.

Why should I take part?

This is of course is up to you but Thinking Box is a fun engaging process with stimulating video content and facilitated discussions in a safe space. We cultivate a respectful and understanding environment and have discussions rather than debates. The videos present the topic but it is in the discussions that we often learn the most. Thinking Box has run over 200 public and in-house sessions in the past 5 years over Hertfordshire and the surrounding area.