Are self driving cars worth all of the ethical problems they cause? 

This round I am looking at the problems that self driving cars cause


I’m dividing this post into two sections, one research part and one opinion part. The opinion part is mostly based off of the survey I made, but my opinions are also stated. I might do this for all of my posts because of my topic, but we’ll see 😊 Since this is my first round of research (ever), feel free to let me know if you think I should do something differently next time.




Many people say that self driving cars will decrease the amount of car accidents there are. They think that by taking humans out of the driver’s seat and using machines instead, there won’t be anyone to make mistakes. But the thing is that humans are moral decision-makers. We need to somehow make artificial intelligence that can make moral decisions, but that technology is very advanced.


The big question is, would the car prioritize the passenger’s safety or the pedestrian’s safety? Another option could be to try to minimise the amount of life lost it any emergency scenario, but that could mean killing the passengers. Or, the driver could make the final choice in how the car is programed, but that still is not a great option.


Although this is a big problem, Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the center for automotive research at Stanford, thinks that we are wasting to much time on this topic. He thinks we should think more about where self driving cars will fit in a world where regular cars will still be being used? Should we give self driving cars a designated right of way and how fast should we let self driving cars go?


Another thing the professors talked about in this article is the loss of jobs. More than 3.5 million truck drivers transport cargo in the U.S. and all of those people are going to lose their jobs if self driving cars become our reality. But not only truck drivers will lose their jobs. People who work in public and private transit will also lose their jobs to self driving cars in the future.


In a different article, many good questions are asked. Some of these questions were:

Is it acceptable for an autonomous vehicle to avoid a motorcycle by crashing into a wall considering that the probability of survival is greater for the passenger than the rider?

Should different decisions be made when children are on board?

If the buyer is allowed to chose who the car protects, will they be held responsible for the harmful decisions the car makes?

Another thing to think about is how self driving cars will affect people with motion sickness. People with motion sickness feel better when they get to control the motions, but with self driving cars, they can’t do that. People who have tested self driving cars report the movements to be a bit “jerky”, which is bound to make it worse for people who suffer from motion sickness.




So now I am interested in your opinion. I did a survey, and I asked you guys what would stop you from using self driving cars, as in what problems are most important in your opinion, and your answers surprised me. Here are the results:


60% of you said there could be glitches when driving

30% said the moral debate

20% said they could be hacked

And 20% said other (all of the above and how will the driver stop the car in an emergency?)


I was surprised because so many articles focus around the moral debate, so I figured that was the biggest problem. As for glitches, real drivers make mistakes as well, maybe even more than a self driving car would. That means that, in my opinion, self driving car glitches are not any more dangerous than distracted drivers.

My second question was who should self driving cars be designed to protect?

20% of you said protect the passenger

30% of you said protect the pedestrian

And 50% said let the consumer decide when they buy the car


Something to consider is that if you let the consumer decide how the car should be programed, you give them all of the power. Would you feel comfortable walking on the street or driving in your car not knowing which car around you is programed to protect you and which car is programed to kill you? It does seem like the best option at first glance but it leaves everyone with a lot of uncertainty.


Feel free to give me your opinions, I’m open to anything. Just please make sure you make it clear which parts of your comments are solid facts and which ones are opinions!


I have decided to switch up my project plan a bit. Originally my plan was to research how self driving cars are programed, and then why using and electric car would be beneficial. I have decided the order to what are the benefits of self driving cars first because then I could also look at how the cars are designed to maximise these benefits and how they are programed at the same time. 

As I said, I will be looking at the benefits and the future of self driving cars. I will be making another survey for my next round of research,  it would be really helpful if you guy took the survey so I can have more material for my next round. I’m super excited about this as my survey got some very interesting results in this field. You guys why you thought using a self driving car would be beneficial, and I got a lot of really great answers. One of you guys brought to my attention that self driving cars would keep us safe from drunk drivers. Someone else also said that self driving cars would increase accessibility for people with mental and physical disabilities. This is all super interesting, and I can’t thank you guys enough for your continuous feedback and support. As you probably know, this is my first time in butterfly effect and I am super impressed with the butterfly effect community. 

Original Post

Hi Jasmine,

I'm glad you're liking butterfly effect so far! Great first round of research! I like how you did research on the topic, then you pulled together the data from the survey you did and in the end gave your own opinion on the matter. In my opinion, the biggest dilemma with self driving cars is the moral debate. Unlike humans, the cars will have to be programmed to make a certain choice in every kind of situation, and whether the car chooses to protect the passenger or protect the pedestrian raises a lot of debate and moral issues. Humans on the other hand, can be forgiven for making mistakes or not knowing what to do in the short amount of time in which they must react to a dangerous situation, but people will expect the self driving car to be able to make a decision and react in time, meaning it has to be programmed to protect a certain person or group of people ahead of time.

I find it interesting how one of the problems self driving cars might pose is motion sickness. I hadn't thought of that. In my mind, self driving cars would be smoother than a human driving, but I guess I was wrong. I learned something new!

If there was one thing that I'd suggest to improve your research round, it would be to state where you got each piece of information from with a number in parentheses at the end of your sentence or paragraph corresponding to the website in which you got it from. Overall, your research was well done!

Here are some websites you can use for your next round of research:

Good luck!

Hey @Jasmine Paduraru (Charles Best)

This is an interesting post! A super relevant topic that will hit our generation very soon. As technology keeps improving, the whole game play of how traffic and car systems will be changed. It is plausible to say that through time and advances, the perfection of self driving cars will be complete as long as we're careful. However, we're looking at the starting stages of that and there is bound to be hiccups- but to what cost? Lives? Pretty cool breakdown of your survey as well.

As one of your paragraph mentions how jobs will be affected when self driving cars are in place. This technological age is affecting quite a lot of sectors. This will be the next phase of what we saw in our Social Studies History classes where industrial revolution replaced many jobs with machines we wouldn't need to do. Now a similar effect can be seen with technology. 

Jessica mentioned above, a great way to enhance your post would be to correspond your sources to your paragraphs. (Check Jessica's or my research post for an example of how it looks!) 

For your next round of research, hope these information sources could help you! 

Nicely done! 

Hey Jasmine,

I really enjoyed the format of this week's research! I appreciate that you not only integrated a section showing your formal research, but an additional one showing a bit of speculating you did on your own. Self-driving cars are daunting to me, and I honestly don't really see a need for them, so I find it very intriguing to read your research about the dilemmas and benefits of self-driving cars and if they're worth the trouble. 

I'm excited to see what you find for how engineers solve the issues self-driving cars face! I don't even know where one begins to make a car, let alone one that drives itself. Here are a couple sites that might be able to help you: here's a little bit about what self-driving engineers learn during their education and what they do

I am equally anticipating your benefits round. Perhaps you could look at what self-driving cars would mean for children--would they still have to get driver's licenses, or just never learn to drive?

Good luck, I look forward to seeing what you find,

Hey Jasmine,
this is a rather disturbing controversy, isn't it?  Discussing whether to save yourself or someone else.  I guess it really comes down to how selfish one is.  When I first heard of self driving cars, I thought it was a great idea because it would stop drunk drivers and would help people out.  But I never really factored in all the other stuff that could happen until I took your survey and read this post.  It is a rather complex matter. 
I thought you brought a good point up when you said that if consumers decide the fate of themselves and others, people wouldn't feel comfortable not knowing what kind of people they were around.  I know that I would not feel comfortable.  I would always be scared.  Am I going to survive today?  Maybe I shouldn't cross the street, maybe I shouldn't walk on the sidewalk, maybe I should stay home.  In my personal opinion, I think it is a bad idea to let consumers decide.  Because like I mentioned before, you don't know what kind of person is buying the car (good or bad).
This is a great topic and after reading this, it is definitely something that should be discussed and taken into consideration.   I think it is a great idea to look into the benefits for the cars as well.  At the end, the good and bad can be weighed out and the final decision can be made as to whether the cars are good or bad.
Here is a site to help you on your journey:
This site talks about some advantages self driving cars will bring.  Especially the issue we have with parking spots today and how self driving cars will change that issue for the better.
Great job with your research.  Keep up the good work!
~Haley M.

Hi Jasmine!


Your post is so full of information, I learned quite a bit. I really like how you put it into two sections, the research and opinion part. My family was looking into they’re dream car the Tesla, and as soon as I mentioned that it can drive itself it made a family debate, so this post it close to home haha. My stepmom was too freaked out about the technology but my dad thought it was really cool, which it is but I never even thought of some of the things that you mentioned in your research. The moral part you mentioned blew me away and really made me think about how a mechanical car would make such a decision such as safety for the passengers and pedestrians, I also never thought about how many jobs it would take away from people. I would be interested to know that if these smart cars get more popular, how long will it take them to take over the roads? I love your idea so much and I’m really excited to learn more about it!!


Good job!

Jadyn ~ LFAS

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