Institut für Kognitionswissenschaft

Institute of Cognitive Science

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27. March 2020 : New publication on autonomous driving and related ethical questions:

Kallioinen N, Pershina M, Zeiser J, Nosrat Nezami F, Pipa G, Stephan A and König P (2019). Moral judgements on the actions of self-driving cars and human drivers in dilemma situations from different perspectives. Front Psychol 10:2415

Self-driving cars have the potential to greatly improve public safety. However, their introduction onto public roads must overcome both ethical and technical challenges. To further understand the ethical issues of introducing self-driving cars, we conducted two moral judgement studies investigating potential differences in the moral norms applied to human drivers and self-driving cars. Two main findings were apparent from the results of the experiments. First, human drivers and self-driving cars were largely judged similarly. However, there was a stronger tendency to prefer self-driving cars to act in ways to minimize harm, compared to human drivers. Second, there was an indication that perspective influences judgements in some situations. Overall, the results extend and agree with previous research, again contradicting existing ethical guidelines for self-driving car decision making and highlighting the difficulties with adapting public opinion to decision making algorithms.