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News, Analysis & Perspective on Autonomous Vehicles

The folly of trolleys: Ethical challenges and autonomous vehicles

Brookings, December 17, 2018

Scholars and pundits tend to focus on one ethical challenge for autonomous cars: the Trolley Problem. Unfortunately, the focus on this ethical problem alone seems to blind experts and practitioners alike from grappling with other unaddressed ethical challenges. This paper argues that one must take the technology on its own terms. Once we understand how these vehicles work—that is, the mathematics behind their learning—we will see how there are many other design choices that are far more morally important.

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