From public preferences to ethical policy

Studies have provided rich data on global preferences for how autonomous vehicles should act in collisions. We describe a framework for incorporating such preferences in policy. Preferences should inform the design of autonomous vehicles only after being screened for bias and only to the degree to which they match major ethical theories.

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Fig. 1: In our framework, data on public and expert intuitions form the first step of a deliberative process.
Fig. 2: Different ethical theories either endorse or reject public preferences for driverless cars to take number, age and sex into consideration in collisions.


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J.S. and C.G., through their involvement with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, received funding through from the Victorian State Government through the Operational Infrastructure Support (OIS) Program. J.S. was supported by the Wellcome Trust (WT 104848/Z/14/Z) and (WT203132/Z/16/Z). All the funding bodies provided support for research on themes developed within this paper. The funders had no role in the conceptualization, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Julian Savulescu.

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