Washington Post

When driverless cars hit market, blame for accidents may shift to industry

May 13, 2015 photo shows the front of Google's new self-driving prototype car during a demonstration at Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. The car, which needs no gas pedal or steering wheel. Foto: Arkiv. Foto: Tony Avelar/AP

If anything about driverless cars can be considered an old riddle it is this one: the car is driving itself down a residential street when a woman pushing a baby stroller suddenly enters a crosswalk. Unable to stop, should the car’s computer opt to hit mother and child, or veer off to strike a tree, almost certainly killing its passengers?

That macabre scenario has been fodder for ethicists almost since the prospect that cars might drive themselves first entered the horizon. It also, however, provides a second riddle: Regardless of the choice made by the car’s computer, who pays for the damages?..

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