In a perfect world, self-driving cars will get us from A to B, reduce congestion and pollution and reduce the number of accidents.
But accidents will still occur, raising the question of who a self-driving car would choose to spare in a fatal collision.
Researchers at MIT have been pondering that question, and the findings of a major poll reveal some rather shocking results.
The poll of over 2 million participants revealed there were three distinct preferences.
Self-driving cars should favour human lives over the lives of other animals;
Where there’s a choice between a small or large group of people, the larger group of people should be spared; and
Younger lives should be spared over older lives.
To carry out the survey, the MIT researchers built a ‘Moral Machine’, which was a multilingual online game in which the participants would state their preferences in a series of situations self-driving cars may face.
For instance, should self-driving cars spare the lives of jaywalking pedestrians, or should they save bystanders? Most respondents opted for the latter.
Likewise, worryingly respondents suggested that the life of a dog should be spared in place of a criminal.