Ideas

Brainiac

Big Data: Driverless cars and saving lives

67th: That’s where Americans ranked, in a survey of people in 117 countries, in their willingness to save pedestrians’ lives if it means that car passengers die. Researchers at the MIT Media Lab questioned people around the world about how driverless cars should be programmed to react if their brakes fail. There were stark cultural differences, according to the website Quartz’s summary of the research. When forced to choose who survives an accident, people in car-happy Western countries were lukewarm about keeping pedestrians alive at the expense of passengers; they also strongly preferred — as did people in African countries such as Kenya and South Africa — to save children over old people. People in Eastern countries, such as China, strongly preferred to save elders over the young and pedestrians over car passengers.

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