Edmond Awad on Crowdsourced “Programming” of Ethics in Self-Driving Cars

Edmond Awad on Crowdsourced “Programming” of Ethics in Self-Driving Cars


My name is Edmond Awad. I’m a
postdoctoral associate the MIT Media Lab, in the research group, Scalable
Cooperation. Last year I co-developed a website
called Moral Machine which basically tries to understand the human perspective of moral decisions made by machines. The Moral Machine is a website that generates random moral dilemmas that are faced by a driverless car and it asks you “what do
you think the car should do in this dilemma?” So for example we could show
you, the car is heading to the street, and then suddenly a few pedestrians
jump in front of it, and the brake fails, the car has either to continue through
those pedestrians, or swerve into a barrier, killing the passengers, which
have different characteristics and it asks you to choose one of the two options. So there are two purposes. The first purpose is to collect data about what kind of moral principles people think the machine should employ when they are facing
the moral trade-off. The second goal is to popularize the discussion about moral
decisions made by machines. I think the most interesting part is that there are some cultural differences, like people in different countries have
different preferences, and this of course will have its own application on the
policy making between different countries. One of the questions that we
always receive from people is saying, “Are really gonna use this
data that you collected into programming a self-driving cars?” Which is also kind
of scary because it means that anybody on the internet could have made a
decision to do this and, you know, the human bias. And of course the goal is
not to to say “the majority should decide what
kind of moral decisions the machine should make.” The idea is to provide one input
for policy makers and regulators who are always interested to know what the
people’s reaction will be. We’ll use this data to report what the public’s view or reaction is to this kind of decision.