Self-driving cars prompt:
You are a corporate ethicist for Tesla, a company working to produce self-driving cars. Your boss comes to you one day and says that she needs help in understanding how she should program these cars when they are facing moral decisions. Self-driving cars, just like human drivers, can face complicated moral situations. It is possible that the car could malfunction, or somebody might not be following the rules of the road, and sometimes unavoidable accidents occur, and when this happens the car’s program must make the kind of moral decision that humans usually make. This is not a small matter, because, in a way, the company itself is making these moral decisions, by deciding in what way to program the car. The programmers themselves are bogged down with details about how to make the cars work, and they aren’t experts in ethics, so they are looking for you for guidance.
You, as an ethicist, want the car to really be the most morally good car it can possibly be. As such, you want to propose what you think is really the morally right answer. Then you will look to the marketing team to figure out a way to market your morally good car to consumers.
Since you took Social and Ethical Issues in Computing when you were an undergrad, you know three helpful starting points (the three moral theories from class: Utilitarianism, Kantian Moral Theory, and Care Ethics) for an algorithm that you might use in programming such a car. Examine each of these possibilities and explain which one you think is the best one to use at the starting point in programming morality into these new self-driving cars.
You know that once you make this proposal, the engineering team may come back and explain that there are certain limitations in their programming, but you are often surprised by the kinds of innovations this team of programmers can come up with. As such, for your starting proposal, you will imagine that the engineering team will be able to follow the ethical theory perfectly.
So, in your paper, make sure that you do these things: Clearly lay out all three Ethical Theories: Utilitarianism, Kantian Moral Theory, and Care Ethics. Make an argument for which you think is the best one to use in programming this car. Make sure you lay out possible objections to using the theory you chose. Try to reply to these objections, but it’s okay if you don’t have full replies to these objections yet. This is just meant to give a starting point to the engineering team.