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New study focuses on who a driverless car should save in an accident

Should the car save the pedestrians or the passengers?

  • Published: October 25, 2018 4:18 PM IST
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Driverless cars are ready to hit roads soon but the new question is what should be the norms and principles based on which it will take decisions in case of an accident.

It’s imminent that driverless cars will get into unavoidable accidents even after incubating it with numerous advanced features and it may get into situations in which they have to choose between saving life of the passengers or the pedestrians.

Those guidelines upon which cars will be taking decisions is an important factor and affects public at large and for that researchers at Tokyo framed an online quiz with variety of situations like, “Should a car favor the lives of the young, or the old?”, “Should it save the fit over the infirm?”, “Is saving more lives always preferable to saving fewer?” Idea behind the quiz was to settle on some common guidelines.

Jean-Francois Bonnefon, study co-author and a professor at the Toulouse School of Economics told AFP, “We identified three main principles on which people more or less agreed,” And they were, “Protect human life (over animals), save the largest number of people, and place priority on saving children.” But even with these strong preferences there was variation from one country to another reports The Times of India.

The study got published on Thursday in the journal Nature and the result somewhat surprised researchers that there were this many differences among regions.

“But the fact that broad regions of the world displayed relative agreement suggests that our journey to consensual machine ethics is not doomed from the start,” the study said.

The quiz was online in 10 languages from June 2016 and the study is based on the responses received over 18 months. According to researchers, more than two million people have taken the test.

The data was intended to help guide policymakers, “Experts don’t have to cater to the public’s interests, especially when they find these preferences problematic.”

“But they should at least be aware of the potential reaction of the public when something goes wrong and their regulations are in place. Our sample is self-selected, and not guaranteed to exactly match the socio-demographics of each country,” the authors wrote.

“The fact that our samples are not guaranteed to be representative means that policymakers should not embrace our data as the final word on societal preferences,” said Edmond Awad, a postdoctoral associate at MIT and first author of the study.

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A report by German commission states that, “Any distinction based on personal features (age, gender, physical or mental constitution) is strictly prohibited.” It’s a question that classification of human life on a rational approach is itself ethical or not.

  • Published Date: October 25, 2018 4:18 PM IST