Which Ethical Framework should be built into Self-Driving Cars?

Last week I won Fordham’s Business Ethics Case Competition!! Here’s the video of our winning entry (10 minute presentation + 8 minutes of Q&A):

I will now be representing Fordham at IBECC in New Orleans in April, alongside teammates KC Schmitz, Lauren Teske and Gabi Cinkova!

Our winning entry was focused around what type of ethical framework should be designed into the emergency reaction system of the car, or in other words: In the event of an incident where death is inevitable to one or more parties, how should the car react, and which parties should it prioritize first?\

As you will see from our presentation and our deck, we ultimately rested on a solution in which a self-driving car prioritizes the passenger of the car first. Our argument rested on two main points:

  • A passenger in a car with flawless technology is always innocent – they have no control over the vehicle, and if the car is technologically perfect then the cause of any accident must be due to external factors.
  • Given the immense benefits of bringing self-driving cars onto the road (and the fact that the benefits increase exponentially – a result of the network effect of autonomous vehicles), the framework that is the most marketable to consumers is the most ethical framework

We have a lot more to say about this case, but fitting as much as possible into a 10 minute presentation was tough!

Here’s the deck we used:

What do you think?

Until next time!


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