Anja Faulhaber, Anke Dittmer, Felix Blind, and others
Ethical thought experiments such as the trolley dilemma have been investigated extensively in the past, showing that humans act in a utilitarian way, trying to cause as little overall damage as possible. These trolley dilemmas have gained renewed attention over the past years; especially due to the necessity of implementing moral decisions in autonomous driving vehicles (ADVs). We conducted a set of experiments in which participants experienced modified trolley dilemmas as the driver in a virtual reality environment. Participants had to make decisions between two discrete options: driving on one of two lanes where different obstacles came into view. Obstacles included a variety of human-like avatars of different ages and group sizes. Furthermore, we tested the influence of a sidewalk as a potential safe harbor and a condition implicating a self-sacrifice. Results showed that subjects, in general, decided in a utilitarian manner, sparing the highest number of avatars possible with a limited influence of the other variables. Our findings support that people’s behavior is in line with the utilitarian approach to moral decision making. This may serve as a guideline for the
implementation of moral decisions in ADVs.
The article is here.