Autonomous Trollies: Ceding Ethics to Economics
Autonomous vehicle boosters widely claim they will precipitate an unparalleled reduction in traffic fatalities. And as someone who is deeply disturbed by the sheer magnitude of carnage our society is willing to tolerate for the sake of motorists’ convenience, I would absolutely welcome this change, if it were to be realized. However, while Voltaire cautions us to not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, we are at the precipice of an incredibly troubling convention to be embedded into the state of our transportation system. I am of course referring to Mercedes-Benz’s announcement that they will be prioritizing the lives of vehicle occupants over all other people using the street. I wish to explore the disconcerting implications of elevating the value of customers’ lives over those of bystanders, and moreover, the general decline in our collective ability to distinguish between moral and economic philosophies.