The self-driving trolley problem: how will future AI systems make the most ethical choices for all of us?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is already making decisions in the fields of business, health care and manufacturing. But AI algorithms generally still get help from people applying checks and making the final call.

What would happen if AI systems had to make independent decisions, and ones that could mean life or death for humans?

Pop culture has long portrayed our general distrust of AI. In the 2004 sci-fi movie I, Robot, detective Del Spooner (played by Will Smith) is suspicious of robots after being rescued by one from a car crash, while a 12-year-old girl was left to drown. He says:

I was the logical choice. It calculated that I had a 45% chance of survival. Sarah only had an 11% chance. That was somebody’s baby – 11% is more than enough. A human being would’ve known that.

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