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A Study on Driverless-Car Ethics Offers a Troubling Look Into Our Values

Universal patterns revealed themselves. Most players sacrificed individuals to save larger groups. Most players spared women over men. Dog-lovers will be happy to learn that dogs were more likely to be spared than cats. Human-lovers will be disturbed to learn that dogs were more likely to be spared than criminals. In its discussion, the paper skims over the uglier aspects of the study to identify “three strong preferences” that might provide a starting point for developing a standardized machine-ethics framework: sparing human lives, sparing more lives, and sparing young lives. The paper concludes with a soaring look into the future, and recasts machine ethics as a “unique opportunity to decide, as a community, what we believe to be right or wrong; and to make sure that machines, unlike humans, unerringly follow these moral preferences.”

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