Driverless Cars at the Moral Crossroads

Sunday, December 8, 2019
First Aired: 
Sunday, July 30, 2017

What is it

Autonomous vehicles are quickly emerging as the next innovation that will change society in radical ways. Champions of this new technology say that driverless cars, which are programed to obey the law and avoid collisions, will be safer than human controlled vehicles. But how do we program these vehicles to act ethically? Should we trust computer programmers to determine the most ethical response to all possible scenarios the vehicle might encounter? And who should be held responsible for the bad − potentially lethal − decisions these cars make? Our hosts take the wheel with Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene, author of "Our Driverless Dilemma: When Should Your Car be Willing to Kill You?"

Recorded live at Cubberly Auditorium on the Stanford campus with support from the Symbolic Systems Program and the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society.

Comments (2)


Gerald Fnord's picture

Gerald Fnord

Sunday, July 30, 2017 -- 10:57 AM

Driverless cars: my will be done

As a moral being and, significantly, one who privileges ratiocination over passion and reflex, I should actively _prefer_ that a car with much faster reaction times and otherwise capable of driving much better than I can would implement my moral decisions than I. I would otherwise risk momentary weakness of the body or spirit's interference with the judgements I would make were I _not_ about to crash…and, preferably, when I'm not in a misanthropic mood.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, December 5, 2019 -- 10:12 AM

In 2017 I was not too worried

In 2017 I was not too worried about driver-less cars. Thinking about it now and looking at other road hazards (people too busy texting or telephoning to pay attention to their own safety; scooters, which have no business on the road in the first place; bicycle riders who refuse to obey traffic laws; etc. etc.), I realize we are approaching transportation entropy: that saturation point where it becomes well nigh impossible to keep track of increasing hazards, while safely operating any vehicle, driver-less or driven. I'm thinking of giving up driving altogether---although it will be an inconvenience, to say the least.

 
 

Joshua Greene, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

 
 

Bonus Content

VIDEO: Driverless Cars at the Moral Crossroads was recorded before a live audience at Stanford. Watch the entire show!

 

 

Research By

Mohit Mookim
 

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