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As I mentioned before, in my new Taki’s Magazine column, “The Trillion-Dollar Question,” I point out that Google’s decision to fire James Damore due to hurt feelings raises some questions about how confident you would feel entrusting your life to Google’s long-promised self-driving car.
I was thinking about the extremely high level of objective competence needed to increase the passengers’ safety. Keeping passengers’ bodies from getting hurt may well require that Google diversity employees’ feelings sometimes get hurt. Conversely, keeping diversity employees’ feelings from getting hurt may well require that passengers’ bodies sometimes get hurt.
But several readers have raised the question of what choices a self-driving car will be programmed to do in a no-win situation.
Interestingly, philosophers and psychologists have long conducted “trolley” thought experiments about what choices would be made when somebody must be run over and the only question is who. In fact, I wrote about a study of political ideology and trolley deaths for Taki’s Mag in 2013:
Killing Chip to Save Tyrone
by Steve Sailer
November 06, 2013
If a runaway trolley were about to smash into a bus containing 100 trapped members of the Harlem Jazz Orchestra, would you push a wholly innocent man named Chip Ellsworth III onto the tracks to stop the accident? What if the bus held 100 members of the New York Philharmonic and the guilt-free man’s name was Tyrone Payton?
Would your politics have any relevance to whether you’d prefer to kill the white man to save the black musicians or to kill the black man to save the white musicians?
In a fascinating 2009 academic paper by four social psychologists, The motivated use of moral principles, UC Irvine students who identified as politically conservative were found to be racially evenhanded. When given the scenario about killing Chip to save 100 Harlemites, conservatives were no more or less likely to agree it’s the right thing to do than when told to ponder killing the man with the cornerback’s name to save 100 classical musicians.
In striking contrast, liberal students displayed greater bloodthirstiness when presented with the scenario that gave them an opportunity to kill the WASP to help the blacks. This liberal desire to shove a white man to his death to salvage blacks rather than a black man to salvage whites was extremely statistically significant (p = .002).
Read the whole thing there.