Driverless cars are colliding with the creepy Trolley Problem

Philosophers have been gnawing on the infamous Trolley Problem for decades, and it’s always been a purely intellectual exercise with no “right” answer. But we’re suddenly in a world in which autonomous machines, including self-driving cars, have to be programmed to deal with Trolley Problem-like emergencies in which lives hang in the balance. There’s no dodging the issue: The programmers have to decide how machines can behave appropriately in crunch time (as it were).[Techno-skeptics’ objection growing louder] In a simple formulation of the Trolley Problem, we imagine a trolley hurtling toward a cluster of five people who are standing on the track and facing certain death. By throwing a switch, an observer can divert the trolley to a different track where one person is standing, currently out of harm’s way…


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