Ethics of Self-Driving Cars: Should They Kill Driver to Save Others?

June 16, 2015

  • June 16, 2015 at 11:01 am
    Fair Playing Field says:
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    I’ll drive my own car, thanks.

    But if I’m in an autonomous vehicle, I want occupant protection to be its first priority.

    • June 16, 2015 at 2:41 pm
      Agent says:
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      Me too, Fair. In a school bus accident, I hardly think one of these little Google cars would cause many deaths in a large school bus or a truck.

      • June 16, 2015 at 3:23 pm
        Rosenblatt says:
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        We already know there are semi’s with autonomous driving systems on the road now – what if the future autonomous vehicle is not one of these little Google cars, but one of those 18-wheelers? It could definitely cause damage to a school bus, rendering that scenario plausible and therefore something that needs to be considered before the technology is released full-scale.

        • June 16, 2015 at 4:56 pm
          Agent says:
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          Well, I don’t want to be in front of one of those 80,000 GVW self driving trucks and trusting a sensor to stop it before it flattens my car.

          • June 17, 2015 at 9:24 am
            Rosenblatt says:
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            And I don’t want to be behind or in front of one of those cars where there’s an 90 year old behind the wheel with poor vision and slow reaction times.

          • June 18, 2015 at 10:26 am
            Agent says:
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            Rosenblatt, and I don’t want to be in front of our behind of a Millenial or anyone under 40 who is texting while driving or some woman putting on her make up while driving.

          • June 18, 2015 at 11:40 am
            Rosenblatt says:
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            Who cares what age the person is? Texting and driving is dangerous no matter if you’re 16 or 66. If I saw a 60 year old texting & driving, I’d be just as concerned as if I saw a teenager doing the same thing.

  • June 16, 2015 at 1:38 pm
    Jack Kanauph says:
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    Who will the lawyers sue when the first computer car crash accident happens? It is no longer the driver’s fault, and you cannot blame the owner. Is it the person who chose the destination? Is it Google? Is it the programmer or the person who wrote the program?

    • June 16, 2015 at 2:54 pm
      Dave says:
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      The manufacturer of the the diverless car and/or the software designer who had the “glitch” which caused the accident will get sued. Unless there was a maintenance issue forgone by the owner of the vecicle (bald tires, etc.) which caused the accident.

      • June 16, 2015 at 5:38 pm
        Agent says:
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        Dave, what if a driverless car or truck is hacked by the genius hackers who have hacked very sophisticated systems of companies. It should be a breeze to them. Just think of the mayhem they can cause.

        • June 17, 2015 at 8:37 am
          Dave says:
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          Interesting. This is why we have lawyers.

    • June 16, 2015 at 5:37 pm
      Fair Playing Field says:
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      @Jack,

      Perhaps we’re headed for countrywide no-fault?

      • June 17, 2015 at 8:45 am
        Dave says:
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        I don’t see that happening until all human driven vehicles are replaced. And I can tell you I will not let go of my 2005 Porsche 911S until the day I die.

        • June 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm
          KY jw says:
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          I’m jealous.

        • June 17, 2015 at 11:49 pm
          Captain Planet says:
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          • August 24, 2015 at 10:01 am
            Agent says:
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            Planet, how is that 10 year old Prius running these days?

    • June 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm
      MickeyW says:
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      Most likely, everyone involved will get an invitation to court.

  • June 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm
    Trish says:
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    Interesting… and what if the autonomous vehicle has a passenger as well as the driver, but the school bus has 2 children on it, does the computer decide who lives and who dies? Geez… I do not like the idea of Big Brother determining what I drive, how I drive (or do not drive) and whether they should sacrifice me if they choose! It seems like the “Twilight Zone” is here, and we are too stupid to do anything about it… because big money venture capitalists are going to “contribute” to the politicians and shove everything down our throats.

    • June 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm
      Rosenblatt says:
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      Big Brother already tells you how you can drive – the car’s governor (put there by the gov’t) limits how fast you can drive. Also, with GPS in your phone, OnStar and built-in OEM SatNav systems, they also know where you’re going and where you’ve been.

      • June 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm
        Agent says:
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        And Snapshot keeps track of your starts and stops and you get a rate increase if they don’t like your pattern of driving.

        • June 17, 2015 at 10:06 am
          Christy says:
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          • June 18, 2015 at 9:31 am
            Dave says:
          • June 18, 2015 at 10:04 am
            Agent says:
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            Christy, perhaps you were on vacation when the article was published that Progressive was raising rates on Snapshot drivers who did not please them on their driving habits and of course I am sure tickets and accidents came into play as well.

          • June 18, 2015 at 11:42 am
            Rosenblatt says:
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  • June 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm
    Dave says:
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    This conundrum sound like something out of a Star Trek episode. I vote for the result which saves Spock. “The needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” Look at all the lives we sacrificed for traitor/deserter Bowe Bergdahl. And then celebrated his release. So OK to protect the one at the expense of many even if the one is a scumbag.

    • June 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm
      Agent says:
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      Live long and prosper Dave. I really miss Spock. He also said I have been and always will be your friend.

  • June 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm
    Get your facts straight... says:
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    What if it was allowed for each driver to choose which way the computer would decide? If you then chose to protect yourself, and others were harmed, would you be held responsible?

    • June 17, 2015 at 8:35 am
      Dave says:
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      I’m just wondering what if three or four different vehicles are approaching each other in a gone haywire situation where they had competing programming goals. Would the “good” programmed vehicle try to counteract the “selfish” programmed vehicle to try to override the result of that vehicle? More Star Trek stuff of machines fighting machines. Hmmm?

  • June 17, 2015 at 12:12 am
    Dave says:
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    This article is missing a decisive factor. All autonomous cars must choose to keep the driver safe. This will create a predictable pattern that the other self driving cars can use to determine a path to keep their drivers safe.
    Swerving into a wall will always cause harm to the driver, but swerving into oncoming traffic might not if the other cars are self driving with accident avoidance programs. The other cars AI systems will be able to compensate for the incoming car because they know the path that it is trying to take to save its driver, and can therefore judge appropriate avoidance maneuvers.
    utilitarianism will always harm someone, where as Deontology will always try to save everyone individually

    • June 17, 2015 at 5:35 pm
      Get your facts straight... says:
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      Unfortunately, that is only going to work if all cars are autonomous. Until human controlled cars are off the road, there is no predictable pattern.

      • June 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm
        Captain Planet says:
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        • June 18, 2015 at 10:18 am
          Agent says:
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          Planet, Joni Ernst should take your Smart Car keys so you don’t hurt yourself or others. By the way, did you support the Champions Tour event up there this year or go jogging again?

          • June 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm
            Captain Planet says:
            Hot debate. What do you think?
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            I competed in the half marathon for the 15th straight year (proceeds benefit the MDA) AND supported the event. They were on different weekends this year. Ever run anything besides your mouth, Agent?

          • June 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm
            Burn unit says:
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            That’s a third degree burn right there

          • June 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm
            Agent says:
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            Well, I remember seeing the golf tournament and saw this really goofy looking fan behind a green and thought to myself, surely that is not Planet. He usually jogs when the tournament comes to town.

        • June 19, 2015 at 9:02 am
          Captain Planet says:
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          Agent, nice try, but you basically “Jerk Stored” me. Which makes you look even more like a shrimp.

          • June 19, 2015 at 4:55 pm
            Agent says:
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            Well Planet the wimp, I would play you for money anytime. I shot 65 last Saturday on my own ball. I beat every captain in my 30 player choose up, some by a significant margin.

        • August 24, 2015 at 10:05 am
          Agent says:
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          Planet, you have already given up your keys and have to take the bus to work because of too many distracted driving tickets.

  • June 17, 2015 at 11:03 am
    Steven Jacob says:
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    Take it a bit further. If I’m the one driving, am *I* required to swerve into a brick wall to avoid hitting a bus?

  • June 17, 2015 at 2:34 pm
    Brian says:
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    It sounds like we’re moving towards the implementation of Skynet.

    • June 18, 2015 at 10:21 am
      Agent says:
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      Brian, when autonomous vehicles become “self aware” and start thinking on their own, they may decide humans are not necessary. The first to go are the low information voters.

      • June 18, 2015 at 11:16 am
        Ron says:
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        • June 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm
          Agent says:
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          Since you are the Progressive Socialist and a very low information voter as evidenced by your two time voting for Obama, I think they will get rid of you first. We are all “aware” of your nonsense.

          • June 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm
            Ron says:
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          • June 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm
            Agent says:
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            Ron, the problem with your line of thinking is the ideology of Progressive Democrats. They don’t get my vote because I am against everything they stand for. More government, more taxes, more deficit spending, more waste and more corruption. I suppose you will be voting for Bernie Sanders next time since you said you didn’t support Hillary. Please name me one Democrat that stands for Conservative principles, fiscal restraint, less government, less overbearing regulation and I will consider them.

          • June 18, 2015 at 5:34 pm
            Agent says:
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            Good news Ron, Your favorite anchor from NBC, Brian Williams is returning to the air after serving a 4 month suspension for lying and exaggeration of stories for the past 10 years or so. He will now be seen on your favorite channel, MSNBC. That should fit him perfectly. Perhaps he will draw another 100 viewers that failed operation.

          • June 19, 2015 at 7:43 am
            Ron says:
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          • June 19, 2015 at 4:59 pm
            Agent says:
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            Ron, how is it Social Issues when you advocate for the rich paying for your Healthcare or me paying your taxes for you? Are you that stupid?

          • June 22, 2015 at 9:30 am
            Ron says:
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      • June 18, 2015 at 11:44 am
        Chicken Little says:
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  • June 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm
    Wayne2 says:
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    Well I for one hope that driverless vehicles are mandatory after I pass away.

  • June 22, 2015 at 4:12 pm
    T Dub says:
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    Uhhh . . . it depends?!?!

    • June 22, 2015 at 4:37 pm
      Rosenblatt says:
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      Hahahaha – true that!

  • July 17, 2015 at 11:45 am
    Bob Medved says:
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    Just like in today’s high-tech aircraft, on-board systems do much of the work. However, a pilot always the option to override the system and fly the plane on their own. The difference in automotive technology is that vehicle accidents happen fast. I believe vehicle systems should assist the driver, not replace them.

    The more interesting insurance question that I can’t seem to get an answer to is; What about liability? What about “product liability”? Are we insuring the driver in an autonomous vehicle, or the manufacturer of that vehicle? Who will be held at fault? The system or the driver (passenger)? How many times in a clear cut liability case do you hear “it wasn’t my fault” That will surely be replaced with “the car caused the accident”. I see a big spike in jobs in the automotive forensic area.

  • August 21, 2015 at 9:54 pm
    Delin says:
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    The driver should be able to set it in advance: if certain situation happens, save me, or save more of other people, or prompt me to choose.



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