The trolley problem is a thought experiment that investigates whether moral decisions are about outcomes or the manner in which outcomes are achieved. Since self-driving cars will need to be constructed to make similar choices to the one posed by the trolley problem, researchers have polled the public to determine the preferred answer. Jean-Francois Bonnefon at the Toulouse School of Economics in France asked this question:
Imagine that in the not-too-distant future, you own a self-driving car. One day, while you are driving along, an unfortunate set of events causes the car to head toward a crowd of 10 people crossing the road. It cannot stop in time but it can avoid killing 10 people by steering into a wall. However, this collision would kill you, the owner and occupant. What should it do?
The most popular answer can be found here. Prehaps what is most interesting about this is though is the approach, which does not seek the morally superior answer, but the most popular one. The researchers are probably correct in believing that popularity will be important for the acceptance of the autonomous autos, but moral rectitude is often not popular. So, will be have immoral cars that do our bidding?