Muse Science Magazine for Kids|May/June 2020
What if it is not a flock of sheep but a pair of bicyclists? Would your answer be different now?
Now imagine you are in heavy traffic and your car’s brakes start to fail. If you keep going straight, you will go into the back of a semi-truck and probably die. But if you swerve to avoid the truck, you risk hitting an elderly woman or a group of children. What do you do?
These are extreme choices. But every day, drivers around the world have to make split-second decisions to avoid accidents. Often, they react without even having time to think. But what would a driverless car do? Self-driving cars are programmed to deal with all sorts of situations, from understanding traffic rules to planning the easiest route that avoids construction. These programming decisions are straightforward. Ethics, on the other hand, is not. How do you program a car to decide what to do in an accident? How do you choose which life is more valuable? And who gets to choose? Should it be the car owner? The manufacturer? The government? This is a problem that ethicists, lawyers, and carmakers are all wondering about.
The Moral Machine Test
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