Self-driving vehicles

Would You Buy A Self-Driving Car That Would Kill You To Save Others?

The problem of programming ethics into autonomous vehicles



Three researchers are reporting the results of three surveys that find that most people are utilitarians when it comes to installing ethics in self-driving cars. Basically, most of those surveyed believe that cars should be programmed to sacrifice their occupants if that means that more lives will be saved in situations where harm is unavoidable. This is sort of a version of the famous "trolley problem" in which an onlooker can flip a switch to divert an out-of-control trolley car such that it runs over only one person rather than ten. Faced with that problem, most people say that they would divert the trolley to kill one in order to save ten. In other words, the greatest good for the greatest number.

But in the case of self-driving cars, the researchers ask another question: What happens when there is no onlooker, but the one who gets sacrificed to save ten strangers is you as the passenger in the car? Should cars be programmed to sacrifice you? In fact, most respondents agreed that self-driving cars should be programmed that way, but a significant portion believe that manufacturers will more likely program them to save their passengers no matter the cost.

Would they buy cars that they know are programmed to make utilitarian calculations to self-sacrifice? The researchers gave respondents three options: self-sacrifice (swerve), random, or protect the passenger (stay). Summed together most said that they think that other people should buy self-sacrificing cars, but they would prefer to own self-driving cars programmed to protect passengers (themselves) or make a random choice between self-sacrifice and protection.

Ultimately, the researchers reported:

Three surveys suggested that respondents might be prepared for autonomous vehicles programmed to make utilitarian moral decisions in situations of unavoidable harm. This was even true, to some extent, of situations in which the AV [autonomous vehicle] could sacrifice its owner in order to save the lives of other individuals on the road. Respondents praised the moral value of such a sacrifice the same, whether human or machine made the decision. 

Although they were generally unwilling to see self-sacrifices enforced by law, they were more prepared for such legal enforcement if it applied to AVs, than if it applied to humans. Several reasons may underlie this effect: unlike humans, computers can be expected to dispassionately make utilitarian calculations in an instant; computers, unlike humans, can be expected to unerringly comply with the law, rendering moot the thorny issue of punishing non-compliers; and finally, a law requiring people to kill themselves would raise considerable ethical challenges.

Even in the absence of legal enforcement, most respondents agreed that AVs should be programmed for utilitarian self-sacrifice, and to pursue the greater good rather than protect their own passenger. However, they were not as confident that AVs would be programmed that way in reality—and for a good reason: They actually wished others to cruise in utilitarian AVs, more than they wanted to buy utilitarian AVs themselves. What we observe here is the classic signature of a social dilemma: People mostly agree on what should be done for the greater good of everyone, but it is in everybody's self-interest not to do it themselves. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for manufacturers or regulatory agencies wishing to push for utilitarian AVs: even though self-interest may initially work against such AVs, social norms may soon be formed that strongly favor their adoption.

Driver error is responsible for about 94 percent of traffic accidents. Consequently, if the widespread adoption of self-driving cars dramatically reduces road carnage, programing cars to make utilitarian ethical choices might be a trade-off that most of us would be willing to make.

NEXT: Kentucky Judge Rules in Favor of Shooting Down Snooping Drones

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  1. But in the case of self-driving cars, the researchers ask another question: What happens when there is no onlooker, but the one who gets sacrificed to save ten strangers is you as the passenger in the car

    In real life, I find that often (100% of the time) I can save both.

    1. DR(P): The surveys posit situations of “unavoidable harm.”

      1. In a laboratory with finite variables. Diane Reynolds doesn’t work with finite variables. Diane WILL drive into the neighbors lawn, or bail out before the vehicle goes over the cliff.

        1. You assume the car will have manual controls. Apparently they (Google) is trying to do away with those. Which will make them real popular with statist, control freak types. Look for them to eliminate DUI liability only if you’re in a car without manual controls.

          1. I’ve had a chance to see their new car. It does have one control — a big red STOP button. It also has manual controls that can be snapped into place or removed.

            The thing that isn’t obvious until you see it, is that removing the steering wheel and dashboard freed up a ton of space in the car’s interior.

        2. If I know anything about Diane Reynolds, Diane Reynolds will drive right the hell over that poor child chasing the ball and then say “I did not drive over that child, Monica Lewinski.” When the dashcam video goes viral on Youtube, Diane Reynolds will deny she ever said she did not drive over the child and that any claims she said such a thing are just part of a vast right-wing conspiracy to create a fake scandal. The media will then focus their attention on whether or not the fake scandal is changing public opinion on Diane Reynolds and never again mention the dead child.

          1. It depends on what the meaning of “Diane Reynolds” is….

      2. I do not accept the no-win scenario.

      3. “I don’t believe in the ‘no win’ scenario”.

      4. There might be a disconnect between:
        a. what I would tell a researcher I would choose,
        b. what I would choose as a theoretical one-day-it-might-happen, and
        c. what I would choose as I get in the car.
        (Presuming there wouldn’t be time to change the decision during the situation.)

        Another interesting question is: What happens when there is no onlooker, but the ones who get sacrificed to save thirty strangers are you, your wife, and your child as the passengers in the car?

        Or: What happens when there is no onlooker, and you get to set the choice, but the one who gets sacrificed to save ten strangers is your wife or child as the passenger in the car?

    2. Will our self driving cars kill us to save squirrels, raccoons, and deer?

  2. OT: This is why students should get forgiveness for their loans.

    A 22-year-old college junior named Kim is making people scratch their heads.

    Appearing on “The Bert Show,” an Atlanta radio show, in July, Kim, who did not provide her last name and used auto-tune to disguise her voice, said that she had been given a $90,000 college fund by her grandparents, but had spent most of the money before her senior year.

    The college junior says she used some of the cash to pay for three years of tuition, but she also copped to buying school clothes and a trip to Europe.

    “The first payment for my senior year just arrived, and I don’t have the money, basically,” she said on the radio show. “I’ve just been avoiding it. I knew the bill was coming.”

    “I didn’t blow it. I just spent it in other places.”
    -Kim, 22-year-old college student


    1. She fucked up really badly.

      BOO HOO HOO.

      1. Maybe she should start a gofundme page.

        Or better yet, hire herself out as a sugar baby. I bet she makes some cash.

        1. Better do that while she’s still in her prime years. Her value decreases with time.

        2. I’m not seeing any pictures…

          1. Plus that auto-tune voice would get really irritating after a while.

        3. start a gofundme page or hire herself out as a sugar baby

          A comefuckme page?

          1. Would

    2. Wait, she spent $80k plus all the student loans she could generate? That’s fucking awesome. I mean not intelligent, but you could live pretty well.

      1. 90k. Most of it went to 3 years at college. Now she needs 20k for the last year and has no idea where money comes from if not family. She’s doesn’t want a loan or a job because it will have a negative impact on her, as a person.

        1. Ah. Loans are something poor people get and she is laboring under the illusion that because her parents are not poor that she is not poor. I know that person.

          1. I know that person too. He has a new hobby that involves needles, and has never accomplished a thing in his life.

          2. To be a fair, when you’re an undergraduate FAFSA doesn’t make that distinction. She can find a way to pay for sure but they’ll be mostly (if not entirely) private loans if her parents really are wealthy.

        2. Most of it went to 3 years at college.

          Assumes facts not in evidence.

      2. Gramps would have wanted it that way.

    3. “I hope they realize [working part-time] could have such a negative effect on my grades and as a person.”

      Part time work will have a negative effect on you, as a person? Try it before you knock it.

      Also, why can’t you get a loan for 20k? Everyone else can get a loan for 20k.

      1. It’s harder to spend money when you’re busy making money. Clearly it’s detrimental to the economy.

      2. But perhaps it might improve her grammar?

    4. What school, I wonder?

      Well, what I really wonder is, how much actually went to pay tuition and school fees, and how much she blew travelling and buying clothes?

      I feel bad for her grandparents. For her, I feel nothing but contempt.

      1. She needs 20k for this year, so I’m assuming

        1. I’m assuming squirrels.

    5. [My parents] said there was nothing they could do for me,” she said. “I know they have the money…They’re not being honest with me, saying they don’t have [money] because my dad has worked for like a million years, and they have a retirement account.”


      Anyway, notice how she’s 22 and a junior? Did she take a year off for Europe?

      1. Of course, she also could have changed majors a few times.

      2. I was too busy noticing that she is an entitled cunt.

        1. With an attitude like hers I’m sure she’s going to have a miserable life. So at least there’s that.

        2. Oh, no. She’s vile. I just betting that even as bad as she looks, she still told the story to her advantage. I bet it’s much, much worse.

          1. I love this comment:

            608Chicago Yolo ? 2 hours ago
            I’d rather deport this woman than any illegal immigrant with a job.

            1. That’s the comment of the year.

            2. Hmmm…. I actually can’t argue with that.

      3. Worked “for like a million years”. Millennials…

        1. “Cash out your retirement and work until you die so I can travel around and buy clothes, Dad! Don’t you love me?”

          1. Uncanny – you just quoted my sister around 1989…

          2. Maybe thats where the blame should go. Her grandparents were dumb enough to give $90,000 no questions asked, and we really blame this spoiled cunt for taking advantage of that?

            1. we really blame this spoiled cunt

              I do.

          3. Yep – Mrs. Almanian and I told the chirrens, “I’m not going broke nor giving up my lifestyle to pay for your school, so you’d better get scholarships like I did. Or have fun paying back your loans for the rest of your life, cause I won’t.”

            I did agree to co-sign some loans, with the understanding that they will wind up dead if they ever miss a payment.

            So far, so good….

            1. My brother has this deal with his spawn:

              I’ll pay half. You pay the other half.

              So far, so good.

            2. At this point I am expecting I will tell my boys to do what I did – enlist and get military education benefits then study hard and pick up a scholarship or two. Either that or get into a service academy and pay for it sweat afterwards.

      4. Yeah, sorry, she’s not likely to return any of that money to them as support during their old age. Sorry, hon, either go Sugar Baby or drop out and finish up your degree while waiting tables like normal people.

      5. Honestly, her actions are her parents’ fault for not teaching her about the value of dollars and working. They probably gave her everything during her life and this $90,000 didn’t make her stop and think because no one forced her to before now.

        The Millennials that are screwed up are that way because of their boomer and silent-generation parents, not just because they were born since 1984.

    6. I’m sure it would be quite profound to discover what her major is.

        1. +1 I AM in a world of shit

    7. Yeah, sorry grandparents, that’s why you never give kids lump sums.

    8. She didn’t blow her money; she just blew her money.
      I will never understand the people incapable of deferring gratitude.

      1. I think she is doing an excellent job of deferring gratitude.

      2. She used auto-tune (or, asked the station to use it). She was well aware of how she was going to be perceived by virtually everyone else and knew to disguise herself.

        So, either it was a public trolling, or she knows just how much of a reprobate she really is, and…I dunno, wanted to piss people off? It’s not like she wanted to come clean and needed to confess.

  3. Faced with that problem, most people say that they would divert the trolley to kill one in order to save ten.

    But what if that one wasn’t baby Hitler?

  4. Will robocar AIs have access to the news and know to drive members of Congress and the Defense Department into the nearest river?

    1. Let’s not generalize about members of Congress.

    2. What sort of AI is that? An advanced AI would drive all members of Congress and all unelected bureaucrats straight into the Grand Canyon.

      1. How many blue Ford Thunderbirds would you need to fit every member of Congress?

        1. As many as it takes.

  5. What if baby Hitler was driving the trolley?

    What if all the self-driving cars are actually powered by a baby Hitler AI?

    1. What if the self-driving car is sentient and values its own life above all others?

      1. Finally, a real smart car.

      2. The Pusher robot has covered this ethical dilemma.

        The Shover Robot disagrees with the other robot’s conclusions.

      3. Then we have bigger things to worry about.

  6. I already own a vehicle that, if I choose, can kill me and many others. And I drive it on roads densely populated by others who own vehicles that can kill me as well as many others. I already commit myself to an insane concession to convenience. Why should I care if a one-in-a-million scenario ends up in my death just because it’s a computer-driven event? Especially if computer-assisted driving already reduces my chances of dying from one-in-one-hundred-thousand?

    1. “When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”

      1. + 1 million

  7. So cars of the future will swerve off bridges to avoid the onrush of flash-mob protesters, wonderful.

  8. This is a highly contrived scenario, just like the trolley-car thought experiment. How often do situations arise where we have enough control over the situation to decide who dies, but not enough to save everyone involved? Are there any such documented cases?

    Also, the outcomes of decisions are never that easy to predict. Swerving isn’t guaranteed to kill the car occupants, there’s just some probability attached to it. So you have to keep that in mind.

    Finally, there’s one more consideration not mentioned here: Fault. If a particular party is at fault for causing the impending accident, do they deserve consideration in the decision making process? Or is the value of their life reduced by some amount in the equation?

    1. It’s an opportunity for ethicists to quibble.

    2. This is what proves how superior libertarians are. In the libertarian version of the trolley-car thought experiment, you always sacrifice one of your orphan slave monocle polishers, just because.

      1. In libertopia, you can flip a switch between Objectivist (“Save me, fuck everybody else”), Anarchist (“We don’t need no steenkin’ roads”), and Cosmo (“Kill me now”).

        1. Don’t forget Yokel (“They probably deserved it”)

          1. That’s only an option if you have a pickup.

            1. Naturally. To open up the other options, you’d have to have:

              Objectivist: Mercedes-Benz or BMW, leased
              Anarchist: 1986 Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, “gently used”
              Cosmo: Prius

      2. In the libertarian scenario, the libertarian ties orphans to the tracks and forces strangers to choose between them for his amusement.

        1. “forces” strangers?

          No, no, no. This is libertopia. People will pay the libertarian for this.

      3. In the real utilitarian version, the car decides solely based on total net worth plus expected future earnings of each group of people.

      4. You let your orphan slave monocle polishers get fat? What sort of gruel are you feeding them?

    3. Are there any such documented cases?
      does this count

  9. So even our cars are going to be collectivists and nannies who know what’s best for us? I don’t want a self driving car that makes that kind of decision for me. If I can’t manual override control at any time I want, I’ll just do the driving myself. 35 years of driving and never had an accident that was my fault, never been injured or injured anyone else in an accident. That’s good enough for me.

    1. The first and last accident I caused was a 3 MPH collision at a stoplight that not only didn’t hurt anybody but left no detectable evidence that any impact had occurred. I’m not worried that I’ll kill myself by driving anytime soon. That said, if I can spend my entire commute playing video games instead of controlling the car, sign me the fuck up.

      1. Well, that’s what I’m talking about. It would be nice to relax on the open highway, but on 695 at rush hour, I’m not trusting any damn car that has to make a life saving decision once every 5 seconds when yet another dumbass Murlander does something unbelievably idiotic.

        1. You’ve got one of those rush hours where the cars still get to move? Lucky you.

          1. It’s a lot safer when the cars aren’t moving. Too much space to move about results in people going into homicidal maniac mode.

      2. That said, if I can spend my entire commute playing video games instead of controlling the car, sign me the fuck up.

        This is why everyone deserves a Bullet Choo-Choo

        1. Back when I was playing GTA, my daily drive took me briefly through a sketchy, sketchy neighborhood. The kind of neighborhood where the roaming pack of strays knew to take off running if they saw a police car (yes, this really happened).

          It was pretty much a live action GTA scene. And it was weird to put down the controller, get in my car, and bam! back in the game.

          1. Go to Balmer and take a drive down East Biddle street to experience this all over again. Oh, who am I kidding, even the police won’t drive on that street!

      3. And by video games, you mean rub one out, right?

        Tinted windows, obviously…

      4. And the game I’d be playing is Rocket League, so I can drive cars while my car is driving me.

      5. Only accident I caused was literally my second day driving, pulling out of a library parking spot, and I scratched another car. Other car’s owner was thrilled, because they already had damage on that door panel, and our insurance paid out to repaint her door, and for the damage repair.

    2. If this will get Toyota and Buick drivers the fuck out the left lane and out of my way, I can live with some automation.

      1. Here, on the major highways, everyone either drives 40mph or 90+mph. No one drives the fucking speed limit or even close to it, and it causes constant congested areas and of course lots of accidents.

        1. Don’t worry, all driverless cars sold in Murland will be programmed to drive like true Murlanders. It’s an important part of the culture.

          1. So the cars will drive either half or twice the speed limit and refuse to obey any traffic laws even when it’s more convenient to do so? Got it. So nothing changes.

            1. They’ll also be programmed to get as close to the car in front of them as humanly possible without any real reason, but especially when next to a merge lane. Because fuck those assholes, I’m already on the road!

              Seriously, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been tailgated (in a car with more horsepower than usefulness), only to move out of the way and not be passed. Why the fuck were you tailgating me?

              1. When this happens to me, I just slow down until they have to pass or go really slow. I hate tailgaters. So if you’re going to tailgate, you’re not going anywhere fast, or you’re going around, period.

                1. As long as you yield the left lane when you’re not passing anyone…

                  1. The *only* time I will tailgate is to send a message to move the fuck over, after previous and more polite requests have been ignored.

                    That usually gets the idea through, but Corolla stupid just can’t be fixed.

                    1. I don’t even tailgate when the person is driving too slow, I just wait for the opportunity to get around. Not worth the risk of needing higher insurance premiums, just because of accidentally tapping someone from behind. I don’t have any points on my license and plan to keep it that way. Insurance is already too expensive in this state, and it’s obvious as to why.

                    2. accidentally tapping someone from behind

                      Yes, go on . . . .

                  2. Well, I don’t typically ever drive in the left lane. The left lane is exclusively for passing and suicidal maniacs. I typically use the middle lanes. So no, I don’t get in the left lane and drive slow. I often get tailgated in the right most lane when driving 10mph over the limit, and like you were saying, nothing to keep the person from going around, they’re just assholes.

                    1. The left lane is exclusively for passing and suicidal maniacs.


                      Yeah, I’ll go around if I can, but if I’m hemmed in by traffic in the next lane, I get severely annoyed.

                      Mind you, this is only for the fuckknuckles who do this in the left lane (with no one in front of them). If traffic in general is slow, I’ll just deal with it normally.

        2. Here, on the major highways, everyone either drives 40mph or 90+mph.

          With the people doing 40 in the left lane and the people doing 90 passing them on the right.

          Great and glorious Maryland.

        3. No one drives the fucking speed limit or even close to it

          Average speed between DC and Bal’mer is between 70 and 80 most days. Every now and then, the traffic flows at 85 and it’s awesome.

          It’s really fabulous to come up on an idiot doing 65 in the left lane with no one in front of them. There are 3 other lanes to do this speed in. This is not one of them.

          1. It’s really fabulous to come up on an idiot doing 65 in the left lane with no one in front of them. There are 3 other lanes to do this speed in. This is not one of them.

            It doesn’t help that I-95 has left-hand merges and left-hand exits. But they aren’t nearly as common as the slowpokes in the left lane might lead you to believe.

            1. Left hand exits are the work of the Devil.

              Fucking hell, I hate them.

          2. I drove to Reagan this morning during rush hour with it pouring down rain. People in Maryland cannot drive in rain. It’s like they’ve never seen rain before every time it rains.

            1. It’s like they’ve never seen rain before every time it rains.

              This may have something to do with the fact that they also seem to think tires get replaced about as often as the engine. “What do you mean, I have to replace my tires? There’s still rubber on them!”

            2. People in Maryland cannot drive in rain.


              The Virginians don’t help either. Them, the commercial trade vans and hybrids are the worst offenders. Trade vans with VA plates should just be run off the road.

              1. The Virginians don’t help either

                If you had to deal with NOVA cops, you would drive like a Virginian. It’s not that bad outside of the metro area, but God help you if you’re caught with MD plates south of the Potomac.

                1. If you had to deal with NOVA cops, you would drive like a Virginian.

                  Of that, have no doubt. I read the story last year of the Jalopnick writer who spent 3 days in jail for speeding in VA. That’s fucking primitive.

            3. Florida is like this and it confuses me. Meanwhile, I drove in tropical storm rain in Houston and everyone drove about 50-55 (about the appropriate speed fiven the visibility) with extra spacing and nothing else hapened.

              1. I haven’t driven in a lot of states, but Ohio was by far the best driving experience I’ve had (vs. Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia). The drivers were courteous and intelligent.

                You could drive down a road in Cleveland that probably hadn’t seen a paint trunk or a paving crew in the last half-century, and yet everyone would proceed in an orderly fashion, even forming multiple lanes if the road was wide enough.

                If you put a Maryland driver on a road with no lines and no signage, their head would explode. If they managed to avoid that fate, they would proceed to drive down the exact center of the road, moving only to block someone from passing them, and applying the brakes (without stopping or even really slowing down all that much–just enough to annoy the people behind them) at seemingly random intervals.

                1. I’ve driven in a lot of states. I would put MD right at the top of worst drivers. NJ is the worst hands down. Whenever I see someone here driving worse than everyone else, I know as soon as I spot the plates, they will be NJ plates and it’s true almost every single time.

                  When I first moved here everyone told me that people here cannot drive in rain and god forbid you even think about getting on the highway if it’s snowing. And it was all true.

                  1. I love the 95 in southern NJ. No idea why, but I can fly there. People move over if you overtake from behind. It’s wonderful.

            4. Go drive in Portlandia. First time I was ever there, I’m driving my rental car to my hotel and I’m thinking ‘why is everyone driving the exact same speed like this?’ Then I noted that the speed limit is 45mph and EVERYONE is driving almost exactly 45mph. Then I needed over in the other lane so I signaled and the first person immediately slowed a little and let me merge! Then I’m like ‘where the fuck am I?’ Did I go through some portal into another dimension? The entire time I was there driving around, it was like this.

              1. It would be pretty cool to get your autopilot regionally biased. Urban bots maintain less than a full car-length between each other at any given speed and are completely unable to pass on bidirectional/2-lane roads and highways. Rural bots are biased to collimate at a single speed, no matter how absurd, on multi-lane roadways and are unable to change lanes with anything less than 10 car lengths of clearance in the destination lane. Southern bots drive five miles below the speed limit in snow, regardless of geographic location…

                I’m sure if it doesn’t happen deliberately, frequent updates (or a lack thereof) will achieve the same effect.

  10. How would an ethically programmed car work for politicians? Would it just explode in their driveway, or lock them in and drive them to a remote location to finish them off?

    1. +1 Muffin Button (new Vacation)

    2. Just drive them to work while venting CO into the cabin.

      A whole parking lot full of corpses, somewhere near Capitol Hill.

  11. Is it better for a self driving car to sacrifice the passenger if it will save more people. Yes, it is more morally good to sacrifice one for multiple people all things being even. No, I’m not going to buy that car, when there is one that will choose my life over others on the market. I value my own life extremely highly, and even if it is morally wrong (both by my own standards and society’s) I’d sacrifice half the planet if it meant I kept on living. So yeah, I don’t see the contradiction. I just see the reason that regulators can’t make the choices that people actually prefer.

  12. Licensing, training and registration clearly don’t work… Isn’t it time for America to have a serious conversation about cars?

    1. Rascals for everyone!

  13. Would the AI turn off all recording devices while I beat this jerk the rest of the way to death?

  14. Kirk knew the answer: the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.

      1. Right on! If it isn’t in even-numbered Star Trek, it doesn’t exist!

      2. And, seeing all the Spock ‘motivational’ pics with the ‘the needs of the many’ quoted on it. I feel a little like Ragnar Danneskjold wrt Robin Hood, where are all the fucking pics where Sentinal Prime is about to slaughter the Autobots and enslave the human race with ‘the needs of the many’ printed on it?

    1. God, I love Star Wars.

  15. No!

    But then, that’s one of the reasons that I will never trust my life to one of these things.

    Yup, I’m a luddite, and proud of it!

    There’s a bigger issue here, and that is about robotics in general. If you accept the “killing 1 is better than killing 10” premise for this machine, then you are starting down the slippery slope of IA (even if not self-aware) computers essentially violating the first law of robotics (no harm to humans).

    1. Next thing you know, it will be autonomous drones hunting down…

      never mind…

  16. I’m going to guess these cars would be programmed to always follow the rules, and otherwise try to avoid collisions by stopping not swerving, so my vote is…plow ahead, driver!

  17. I’ll take “men do not live in lifeboats,” thanks. And the ARI-designed auto, while you’re at it.

    I’d rather engineers spend more time devising ways to prevent collisions than finding innovative ways to sacrifice me for the collective good or so Bill Clinton can get a haircut, which is pretty much one and the same in the minds of most collectivists.

  18. To answer Ronald Bailey, no. My survival is paramount.

    1. Well, obviously if you valued the lives of others, you would have already given up all your carbon emitting ways and moved into a cave to live a life of bare subsistence, like all the caring people have already done. You teabagging rat fuckers are killing the planet!

  19. So a car that chooses to kill you instead of the other person? This does not seem like a good selling point.

    1. It’s only a selling point so far as you’re signalling to the world how enlightened and noble you are.

      All those people would be downloading third-party “software updates” the night their self-sacrificing model arrives.


    1. No idea – I use Stylish to remove all the cruft so it always looks the same to me.

      1. Tho the previous and next links have some hover effect that is new.

        1. The layout of the front page is different. There is a third column of smaller pictures for stories. It’s cluttered.

          They managed to change the layout so that it’s worse AND keeps the same outdated overall look and feel. Impressive.

  21. Call me a contrarian but I think these cars should be programmed to kill more people. Program them to plow into crowds, deploy swords out of their axles ala Ben Hur, and explode upon impact. It’ll keep us on our toes.

    1. I just realized that if ISIS gets a hold of these cars then suicide bombers will be out of a job.

    2. Most Western Europeans who’ve never been to Murika, actually believe that it’s like a real life Mad Max movie here. So if you tell one of them what you just talked about and say it actually is like that here now, they’ll believe you. Well, make sure to throw in lost of machine guns and missile launchers to make sure they think you are telling the truth.

  22. Also, there’s no way that they will make a car you can’t take control of. Shifting the liability to you will be important. As will making sure you can’t actually get drunk and have the car drive you home. (You have to be sober in case of a vehicular emergency!)

    1. Yup. I don’t care how safe the Goooglecar is, there is no jurisdiction on earth that will allow it without a licensed driver behind the wheel and paying attention.

  23. Who says that is a “utilitarian” choice to begin with?

    The idea that X number of lives is worth less than X+whatever is strictly a matter of personal opinion.

    Utilitarianism is merely a method of determining the most efficient way of achieving a stated desired outcome that has been selected based on someone or some group’s subjective personal assignment of a higher value to that outcome relative to alternatives.

    Utilitarianism cannot actually prove that ANY particular outcome actually is of a higher value than any alternative outcome. The relative value of any outcome vs another is strictly a matter of personal opinion not subject to empirical proof.

  24. By the way, self-driving cars will always be a couple years away.

  25. Would You Buy A Self-Driving Car That Would Kill You To Save Others?

    Do I get bacon?

  26. Three researchers are reporting the results of three surveys that find that most people are utilitarians when it comes to installing ethics in self-driving cars.[…]Summed together most said that they think that other people should buy self-sacrificing cars, but they would prefer to own self-driving cars programmed to protect passengers (themselves)

    This pretty much sums up people’s views on taxation, regulations and statutes. The psychology of democracy in a nutshell.

    1. Government is just another word for the things we want can’t alone to do other people.

  27. Test ride the new Suicidadillac!

  28. It is obviously a good trade-off, especially if we’re talking about a utilitarian context anyway. As any DMV halfwit can explain to you, driving is not an expression of individual autonomy and freedom. It’s a privilege that assumes inherent and even inevitable dangers to you and other people.

    I would be inclined to think that some small bias in favor of the passengers would make sense. Like, don’t kill a bunch of people to save the passengers, but maybe kill one pedestrian to save one passenger, and so on. At any rate, death and injury by car, inside and out, will be greatly reduced from the status quo, so there is no argument for maintaining it.

    1. Here’s Tony’s vision of the new great Murikan utopia:

      Tony: *reporting in on his new model Obama snitch phone* ‘Dear leader, I just spotted someone driving a car by themself!’

      Obama: ‘I’m sending in a drone strike right away!’

      Tony: ‘Oh come on, master, can it be a heat seeking missile, like the one you said you’d kill all the libertarians on Reason with?’

      Obama: ‘Oh, ok, Tony, stop your whining, just this once’

      Tony: ”Oh boy, oh boy, it’s just like Christmas!’

      Obama: ‘Oops, it looks like the missile hit a hospital instead…’

    2. As any DMV halfwit can explain to you, driving is not an expression of individual autonomy and freedom. It’s a privilege that assumes inherent and even inevitable dangers to you and other people.

      As any actual driver can explain to you, the DMV halfwits aren’t out there to save you from the depredations of other drivers. Even the cops can only be in so many places at once. Most of the time you are out on the road, it is entirely up to you to ensure appropriate rules are followed and you don’t cause other people harm. That is the greatest expression of individual autonomy and freedom there is.

      1. One that carries a high risk of injury and death to others? Well it certainly describes the blind spots in libertarianism’s approach to liberty.

        1. Why do you call people halfwits like it’s an insult? Compared to what you have, half a wit is really something.

        2. One that carries a “high” risk of injury and death to others?

          FIFY FTFY.

          Better blind spots to theoretical aspects of abstract liberties than reality I suppose.

      2. Well, Tony, we understand that you don’t believe there are any legitimate expressions of individual autonomy and freedom.

        I am fascinated by the concept that ordinary means of travel are a privilege. I struggle with how ordinary means of travel can be a privilege, if travel itself is a right.

        But you don’t believe in rights as such, only privileges and entitlements, so you don’t have the mental tools to even be bothered by the question.

        1. Some years ago I realized that the “driving is a privilege, not a right” line of though no longer applies. As this country has spread out, driving has become a necessity, like eating. As such, it can not be a privilege. It might be licensed (like gun ownership) but fundamentally it is a right.

  29. sure, let a computer that just fucked up and put you in the situation make the life and death choice.

    1. The person driving the car has to make the decision. Either that person trusts the car more than they trust themself, or they take over control. There has to be manual control override or self driving will never be widely adopted.

      But as far as politicians are concerned, replace them all with robots and forget about manual override. See, here we’ve found a situation where it’s not possible to improve outcome by allowing human control.

  30. I’m pretty sure the next generation had an episode on this. What if the one saved grew up to be the next Adolph Hitler or Khan Singh ?

  31. “most respondents agreed that AVs should be programmed for utilitarian self-sacrifice, and to pursue the greater good”

    Until they push the override button to save their own ass.

    Of course, if there were a bus load of people and a politician in a car, the bus would be sacrificed because the politician is far too important to their donors, and must take away people’s freedom and screw up the economy.

  32. “When we programmed all the cars to sacrifice the driver to save the pedestrian no one predicted there would be an 800% increase in pedestrians crossing the road without looking.”

  33. I know I am getting to this late, but a car’s responsibility is to its owner. Nothing more. A car that is always focused on the safety of its passenger will avoid situations where it must make these decisions. Don’t sit in lanes where your car is boxed in on all sides. Don’t go through intersections where crossing traffic isn’t stopping like you would expect. It’s called defensive driving and it will save 99.9% of the horrible choice situations from occurring. And in those black swan events, no one- not even a car- should be faulted for prioritizing the passengers.

  34. It doesn’t seem to me that they have thought this situation through completely. In order for the aforementioned scenario to take place each vehicle would have to tell the other vehicles how many passengers are riding inside. That would be the only way for this decision to be made ? and it would have to be decided by both vehicles.

    So just as soon as we have auto-driven cars broadcasting the number of passengers on board you know some people will program their cars to always broadcast that their car is a school bus with 56 pre-schoolers on board.

  35. What do the Three Laws dictate?

    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

    A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

    I think the car would make not killing others the top priority and then ACT to try and save the passengers.

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