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How to teach self-driving cars ethics of the road

November 19, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The cars of the future promise to be safer because sophisticated sensors and cameras will give them a far better understanding of potential dangers than any human can muster.

That technology also will let them travel with little driver intervention.

But what happens when a self-driving car can’t avoid an accident?

A large truck speeding in the opposite direction suddenly veers into its lane.

Swerve left and smash into a bicyclist? Right and careen toward a family on foot? Slam the brakes and likely injure the passengers?

The relatively easy part is writing computer code that dictates how a car will react.

The bigger problem is just what that reaction should be.

So far, the people working on the technology say they haven’t focused on these ethical questions.

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