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Autonomous Vehicles and Moral Judgments under Risk

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Document pages: 15 pages

Abstract: Is the exclusive consideration for accident risks the obvious solution to ethical dilemmas of autonomous vehicles? Engineers often advocate this approach and frequently dismiss the data-driven study of driverless car ethics as irrelevant. In three online studies, we found that the mere minimization of accident risk in ethical dilemmas does not correspond to the views of the public. Citizens favor a balanced consideration of risks and harm. This remains true even if the underlying dilemma is based on a more realistic scenario of allocating minor risks among road users. The results illustrate that trolley problems may be informative for autonomous vehicles and emphasize the importance of transparency if manufacturers and the public do not agree on guiding principles in road traffic.

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