How ethical is the use of autonomous vehicles?

Name of teacher: Ms.Mantei

Summary: A few weeks back, in my psychology class, all students were given the opportunity to do a solo, self-directed project- one without a criteria sheet, or much direction on how to present our learning. I chose to study the ethical issues with the release of autonomous vehicles to the mass market. After narrowing it down a bit, I decided that I wanted to know how ethical it was to purchase and 'drive' self-driving cars.

I found a really interesting program, called Moral Machine () that suited my study well. While the site itself is more than just the program, the 'machine' comes from its choice-based survey they run on it. In short, its a 13-question test that evaluates, in the situation of an unavoidable car crash, how you would choose the casualties.


I plan on extending this dilemma to other situations, although my main focus is on the mass market- so, cars, trucks, buses, taxis, etc.

My hope is to survey people of all age groups, backgrounds, etc. in order to gain the most diverse amount of viewpoints as I possibly can. On top of that, I'd like to look into the science behind the artificial intelligence going into these autonomous vehicles, not just the psychology we use to analyze their effectiveness and ethics.

Some Sources:


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Original Post

 Hey Cole! 

 This is a really cool topic and really relevant as well with all the debate about driverless cars. There's a lot of discussion, and lots of insurance companies for sure are against the idea, since they wouldn't know who to blame. As well, there's a lot of fear about how autonomous cars would react to emergencies. 

 If your focus is on how well these cars would do on the mass market, it's definitely a good idea to ask lots of people about how they feel. Especially, try to talk to people who have diverse day-to-day lives, and how different people use transportation and what kind. 

 Good luck researching! 

Hi Cole,

It seems like this future of transportation needs much more development before entering the market and being implemented in our everyday lives. I'm wondering how fitting it is to use Moral Machine to determine how an autonomous vehicle should react in situations the way the "driver" would react. If we want these vehicles to perform the way buyers' think as morally correct, would they react the way the "general" population would like or how that individual person seated in the drivers' seat would like. Should they be completely autonomous, somewhat customized to those buying the car, or should we stay away from autonomous vehicles entirely?

Great topic you're working with.

Hello Cole,

I'm interested in autonomous machines myself and I find your topic intriguing.  To me, the future of autonomous cars is certain as it's just too good of a chance for people to spend time asleep in the car. Which brings up the issue of who's is in charge of how the car should behave. One does not typically blame the gun when a soldier uses it to fight. The difference now is that the car was in "control". I think you may be able to compare this to other technologies that seemed controversial during the time when they were introduced. Great post!


This is a very interesting topic i enjoyed reading through you post.the test is really a challenge because in both situations someone must die,and that brought me to another question.What if the cars system is tempered with and since its a self-driving car the people in it can't control it,who or what will save that situation?

Hey Cole, This is a scary topic to think about for all sorts of different. It will be both cool and interesting to see how your opinion plays a role in your next post i am really looking forward to see where you take this! A topic you could do relating to self driving cars is where they need to be in order to work and what type of conditions need to be meet to make them work.

here is a something i found a while back : resons

Good Luck
-Jake Schmidt

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