Driverless cars are now a reality. The technology exists, and they were tested on the streets. However, there are still a lot of functions that need to be analyzed and implemented before driverless cars are sold to the general public.
Currently, driverless cars are facing ethic issues. The problem is not in the technology itself, which has evolved tremendously over the last couple of years, but the human factor that is sometimes irreplaceable.
Developers are now facing a bigger challenge than programming the car to drive on a wavy road. The dilemma in question is a tale as long as time; should the car save the passengers or the pedestrians in a difficult situation?
There is an old ethics exercise that picked the minds of numerous generations. You’re the driver of a railroad trolley. Your breaks don’t work; you don’t have access to any acoustic signaling, and you’re approaching a crossroads. On one side there are five workers. One the other there’s a single person. You must kill one, who do you choose?
The obvious answer is the single person. However, more questions arise. What if that single person is an expectant mother, or the five workers are actually murderers?
This troublesome question is causing a lot of problems to driverless cars manufacturers. Before the device is finished, they must find a way to answer the question.
Naturally, they decided to ask for the public’s opinion on the matter. The results of their survey were confusing, to say the least.
After being asked who they would save between the passengers of a driverless car or a group of pedestrians, the respondents choose the latter.
However, when they were asked if they would purchase such a vehicle, the majority said that they wouldn’t feel safe in a car that they chose to sacrifice the driver in favor of pedestrians.
Another related survey asked individuals if they would prefer to buy a car that is programmed to save the passengers no matter what or one that is built with the safety of others in mind.
The results were in favor of the cars that protected the passengers. It is not surprising that they chose this because humans have a natural preservation instinct. While morality makes them value the lives of the many in favor of the life of the few, preservation dictates them to choose the option better suited for their own safety.
For the moment, the survey is still open here. You can also leave us your choice in the section below.
Image source: Wikipedia