Ethics of Self-Driving Cars: Analogy and New Harvard Case

business_ethics_highlights_2In an earlier post, we observed that self-driving automobiles present not only technological, but also ethical, challenges. This Stanford Graduate School of Business blog post performs two useful functions. First, it analogizes the ethical problem faced by those programming self-driving automobile software to Philippa Foot’s famous Trolley Problem. Second, it links to the abstract of a new Harvard case written by Stanford GSB professors Ken Shotts and Neil Malhotra on the ethical, legal, and psychological dimensions of programming self-driving automobiles. By itself, the blog post contains enough substance to initiate an interesting class discussion spanning ethics, public policy, and political economy. >>>

LINK: Exploring the Ethics Behind Self-Driving Cars (by Ian Chipman in Insights by Stanford Business)

In the real world, the “trolley problem” first posed by philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967 is an abstraction most won’t ever have to actually face. And yet, as driverless cars roll into our lives, policymakers and auto manufacturers are edging into similar ethical dilemmas.

Ken Shotts and Neil Malhotra, professors of political economy at Stanford GSB, along with Sheila Melvin, mull the philosophical and psychological issues at play in a new case study titled “‘The Nut Behind the Wheel’ to ‘Moral Machines’: A Brief History of Auto Safety.” Shotts discusses some of the issues here . . .

What do you think?


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