Articles  |    |  June 15, 2017

A Rawlsian algorithm for autonomous vehicles

Article by Derek Leben.
Published in Ethics and Information Technology.


Autonomous vehicles must be programmed with procedures for dealing with trolley-style dilemmas where actions result in harm to either pedestrians or passengers. This paper outlines a Rawlsian algorithm as an alternative to the Utilitarian solution. The algorithm will gather the vehicle’s estimation of probability of survival for each person in each action, then calculate which action a self-interested person would agree to if he or she were in an original bargaining position of fairness. I will employ Rawls’ assumption that the Maximin procedure is what self-interested agents would use from an original position, and then show how the Maximin procedure can be operationalized to produce unique outputs over probabilities of survival.