The 'Moral Machine' Records User Opinions on Self-Driving Car Scenarios

By: Joey Haar - Aug 10, 2016
References: & theverge
A future filled with self-driving cars offers a host of benefits, including fewer greenhouse gas emissions and increased traffic efficiency, but MIT's 'Moral Machine' is a tool that addresses one of the darker aspects of proliferating autonomous vehicles. The browser tool poses scenarios in which a self-driving vehicle must choose between colliding with a barrier and killing its passenger or swerving from the barrier and killing pedestrians.

The Moral Machine is effectively a crowdsourced version of the classic "trolley problem" from philosophy, which, when boiled down to its basic tenet, asks whether it is better to cause death by acting or cause death by doing nothing. Though the trolley problem was purely theoretical, self-driving cars create the potential for a real-world instantiation of the dilemma.

Though the Moral Machine's data may never actually be put to use in self-driving cars, it nonetheless is a look into Internet users' moral codes.