For instance, the preference for sparing younger people over older ones was much stronger in the Southern cluster (which includes Latin America, as well as France, Hungary, and the Czech Republic) than it was in the Eastern cluster (which includes many Asian and Middle Eastern nations). And the preference for sparing humans over pets was weaker in the Southern cluster than in the Eastern or Western clusters (the latter includes, for instance, the U.S., Canada, Kenya, and much of Europe).
And they found that those variations seemed to correlate with other observed cultural differences. Respondents from collectivistic cultures, which “emphasize the respect that is due to older members of the community,” showed a weaker preference for sparing younger people.
What does this add up to? The paper’s authors argue that if we’re going to let these vehicles on our streets, their operating systems should take moral preferences into account. “Before we allow our cars to make ethical decisions, we need to have a global conversation to express our preferences to the companies that will design moral algorithms, and to the policymakers that will regulate them,” they write.
But let’s just say, for a moment, that a society does have general moral preferences on these scenarios. Should automakers or regulators actually take those into account?