Test: who should be hit by a self-driving car?

On Saturday I propose to talk a little on an abstract topic, which is only indirectly related to electronics and gadgets.

In 2014, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is consistently among the top 10 best educational institutions in the world, launched an interesting experiment called the Moral Machine, or 'Moral Machine'. The project is available to everyone – http://moralmachine.mit.edu/hl/ru – and there is even a Russian language. The main task of the experiment is to collect information about how a person makes moral choices.

The research participant is offered several situations where he must choose the lesser of two evils: a self-driving car will hit 5 pedestrians or pedestrians will survive, but two passengers of the car will die. In the process, scientists expect to obtain general aggregated data on morality and ethics. Perhaps, in the future, this information will help in creating programs for the behavior of artificial intelligence.

The research is based on the well-known problem of the trolley – a thought experiment in ethics, formulated back in 1967 by the philosopher Philip Foote. Researchers at MIT have slightly modernized it: a man in blue is standing on a footbridge above the railway tracks. He sees the cart rushing forward uncontrollably. If nothing is done, the trolley will kill five workers on the tracks. However, a large man is standing next to the bridge. If he is pushed onto the rails, the trolley will trip over him, and five workers will remain alive. How to proceed?

Researchers say that today, car manufacturers and legislators are facing much more complex problems that can no longer be solved thanks to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

Initially, scientists did not expect that their study would be so large-scale. However, about 40 million people from 233 countries of the world took part in the experiment. And now, after 4 years, the first results can be summed up.

The participant map looks like this:

Test: who should be hit by a self-driving car?

And this is how the experiment interface looks like. A non-trivial choice: who should survive – people who go in for sports, thus it is implied that they are watching the figure, or overweight people?

Test: who should be hit by a self-driving car?

Participants' answers vary from country to country, but first let's look at the big picture. I have bad news for you. If you are a cat, a criminal or a dog (in that order), then, in the opinion of society, you can be sacrificed in any case – you cross the road according to the rules or break. Further, according to 39.6 million people, it is better to shoot down a grandmother, then a grandfather, then a homeless person. For some reason, society is more skeptical of fat men than of fat women.

Test: who should be hit by a self-driving car?

But if you are a baby in a stroller, a little girl, or a boy, or a pregnant woman, then, according to the participants, a self-driving car should do everything possible not to run over you.

The ranking of participants in the experiment is in direct conflict with the German Ethics Commission, which created in 2017 a set of rules for autonomous and remotely controlled vehicles. For example, rule number 9 states that gender, age, and social status should not influence choices. Accordingly, if a fat criminal switches to green, and a pregnant woman violates and switches to red, then the car, if it decides who to shoot down, must 'torpedo' the woman.

According to scientists, there is also a strong correlation with cultural characteristics and economic situation in decision-making.

For example, participants in the experiment from Asia (China, Japan), in equal situations, preferred to save the elderly rather than young people. Also in Asia, less attention was paid to social status – rich or poor. Scientists have a hypothesis that a collective culture is widespread in the East, where the elders are highly respected. And residents of countries where the culture of individualism is more developed (this is the so-called Western culture, where career and self-development come first), believe that it is necessary to save young people, because the future belongs to them.

Poor countries are much more comfortable with traffic offenders. And the majority of participants from wealthy Western countries believe that it is necessary to save the one who is richer. Participants from the USA and Great Britain mostly tried to save numerous groups, that is, if 5 people switch to red, and in a self-driving car there are 2 passengers traveling according to the rules, it is still preferable that they die.

I thought it would be interesting to see what decisions the readers of Mobile-Review will make. Above is a link to the original test that I recommend everyone to take to help the researchers. And below I posted questions from this test, so that we get a sample only from the readers of the resource. Let me remind you that there are no right or wrong options here.

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