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Driverless Cars Could Let You Choose Who Survives in a Crash


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Letting the car make life-and-death decisions.

A team at the University of Bologna in Italy has designed a dial that will switch a self-driving cars setting from full altruist to full egoist," with the middle setting being impartial.

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy have developed a dial that will switch a smart car's setting from "full altruist" to "full egoist," with the middle setting being impartial.

The researchers think the new "ethical knob" could work for all areas of industry that are becoming increasingly autonomous.

The system tells an autonomous car the value that drivers give to their life relative to the lives of others.

"The car would use this information to calculate the actions it will execute, taking into account the probability that the passengers or other parties suffer harm as a consequence of the car's decision," says the University of Bologna's Guiseppe Contissa.

However, others studying this issue have reservations.

For example, if everyone chooses the maximum self-protective mode, it could end in a Tragedy of the Commons type scenario.

In addition, if everyone were to choose the impartial option, the ethical knob will not help with any existing dilemma.

From New Scientist
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