The Moral Machine
With talks of autonomous cars being particularly popular these days, more and more unsought questions arise along with them. People are wondering about insurance laws, the safety and reliability of the new invention and while some quickly welcome the idea, others wonder if we are completely ready for it.
One main concern is the morality of the whole idea, especially when it comes to safety. Currently, there are laws in place that differentiate between the driver that caused an accident and the victim, helping to identify who is at fault, who is not. This is much easier, since every driver is responsible for his or her habits and driving skills when on the road.
When you put a driver-less car on the road though, it becomes a different story. If there is no driver, and the car causes an accident, is the owner responsible? What about the car company? Maybe it’s the victim’s fault and he or she shouldn’t have been in the way?
The Moral Machine is a website game that presents you with different scenarios of automated cars and inevitable accidents. You have to choose who will live and who will die, choosing the lesser of two evils. It really makes you think.
For example, should the car with an elderly couple hit a post and die to avoid going forward and hitting a few children that ran out on the road? Should the car swerve and hit a pregnant woman and a professor, or continue straight and hit a doctor and a criminal crossing the road? These could be some tough decisions to make if you think about it. Makes you wonder what would be the right, most moral thing the car should be able to do? At the end of the series of scenarios, you are able to see your results compared to the majority of others. The system also lets you know whose lives you value most.
This is only a game for now, but not so much, if you think about the future. Some express that the car’s breaks should be able to react the same way they would if a real driver would use them. Others think it may be a little too early to allow these vehicles on the roads. In any case, the fact that autonomous cars already exist and are used by many popular companies, shows that it won’t be too long before regular drivers will be able to operate them. Hopefully by then, their safety will be much more enhanced and the operations systems will be more advanced to avoid accidents as much as possible.