Manhattan College Professor Talks Self Driving Cars

Poughkeepsie, New York- In an ever-expanding technological world we have seen the rise up machines being able to do things all by themselves and this even more evident in cars.

With cars such as the Ford 2019 Escape, 2019 Focus, and 2019 Volkswagen GTI being already able to park themselves it raises the question are we close to self-driving cars? Well we aren’t anytime soon, and it’s because of one simple thing, and that’s because we need to think of is what are the ethics of Autonomous vehicles, and that’s what Heidi Furey talked about at Marist College this past week.

IMG_1427.jpegFurey a professor, a Professor of Philosophy at Manhattan College, came to Marist College on Feb. 7, 2019, to give a lecture on the Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles and talked about the many philological theory’s that goes into an autonomous vehicle. The simple method she used for her presentation was the trolley car theory.

If you never heard of this theory its straightforward theory to understand. Say there is a runaway trolley car and it’s about to kill five people but you had to option to pull a switch to put the trolley on a different path but it kills one person would you do It? In the case of moral action, you would make the sacrifice one’s life to save five, and that’s what most the room went with when Furey asked the question what you would choose?

Furey also explained some significant factors that might go into an autonomous vehicle “we might want to know whether a vehicle should swerve to avoid a tree or avoid a trash can” said Furey.
“We might also want to know how if it should merge into a faster lane on a busy highway or keep to the safer yet less efficient lane.”
Furey said that these factors are important but are also more complicated because they bring in unknown factors.

In the case of that, she gave two more trolley case theories to give too think about. The first one was the “Large Man“ case where if you had five people stuck on the tracks would you push a large man off a bridge to stop the trolley car to save the people what would this mean? “Perhaps numbers aren‘t the only morally relevant factor morally,“ said Furey. When it came time once again to approach the room to see what they did they would sacrifice the large man to save the peopleIMG_1429.jpeg

(Professor Furey talking to students at Marist College)

The last trolley case she used was also the most exciting theory out of that was discussed during the lecture. This trolley case was called the “Nearest and Dearest” Trolley Case. This case approached the same as the first theory five people are in danger of being killed you have the option to save them by flipping the trolley to a different track, but this time a loved one dies, in this case, Furey used the example your child what would you do? “ If you say you shouldn’t turn onto your child, then perhaps numbers aren’t all that matters relationships do too,” said Furey.

Autonomous car won’t be here anytime soon but the trolley cars theories discussed make for a compelling case and showed how much morality must go to a vehicle. If a situation were to break out in where the car needed to stop does it plow into the five people to stop it self-killing all five or does it crash into a brick wall ending itself while in the process killing its passenger or passengers?

What would you do in that situation?

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