At some point in the not too distant future we could all be using driverless cars. Incredible, right? What a technological feat for humanity.
But, what if I told you it could be programmed to kill you in case of an unavoidable accident? One of the pioneers of the driverless car, Elon Musk – CEO of electric car giant Tesla – is convinced the concept of people still driving manually in the future is ‘too dangerous’ and believes you can’t have a person driving ‘a two-ton death machine’.
Some experts believe once the technology of driverless cars is so so advanced and ultimately safe, that you may not be able to get insurance for a manually-driven car in the future.
Although this may all be true, researchers are still struggling with an ethical dilemma. Humans might have to programme the car to ‘actively’ kill you, to avoid more deaths- your own life is ultimately out of your hands.
It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation really. It’s certainly the lesser of two evils for society if you yourself are just killed instead of ploughing into several people and causing more casualties, but it’s a pretty terrifying concept nonetheless.
Jean-François Bonnefon and his team at Cornell University have been testing citizens on various scenarios to figure out whether people are more likely to accept the fate driverless cars could well thrust upon them and the results aren’t that surprising. People are pretty happy for everyone to drive around in ‘utilitarian-programmed’ cars , unless it’s them doing the driving. Well, no shit.
Would you use a driverless car? Well, I’m certainly not convinced…