The Trolley and the Pinto: Cost-Benefit Analysis in Automated Driving and Other Cyber-Physical Systems

Bryant Walker Smith, The Trolley and the Pinto: Cost-Benefit Analysis in Automated Driving and Other Cyber-Physical Systems, 4 Tex. A&M L. Rev. 197 (2017)

13 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2017 Last revised: 16 Dec 2020

See all articles by Bryant Walker Smith

Bryant Walker Smith

University of South Carolina - Law Library; University of Michigan Law School Program on Law and Mobility; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Date Written: December 28, 2016

Abstract

Automated driving has attracted substantial public and scholarly attention. This brief Article describes how that attention has brought new fame to a classic philosophical thought experiment (the “trolley problem”), critiques how this thought experiment has been applied in that context, proposes a more practical extension of that experiment based on risk rather than harm, notes that this extension may still involve programming value judgments, argues with reference to the Ford Pinto debacle that these judgments could inflame juries or the public at large, and emphasizes the need for appropriately focused public discussion of these issues. The Article may be especially relevant to developers and regulators of cyber-physical systems, including the automated driving systems that operate self-driving vehicles.

Keywords: automated driving, automation, driverless, self-driving, autonomous, trolley problem, ethics, driverless cars, Pinto, liability, products liability, product liability, cyber-physical systems, CPS, internet of things

Suggested Citation

Smith, Bryant Walker, The Trolley and the Pinto: Cost-Benefit Analysis in Automated Driving and Other Cyber-Physical Systems (December 28, 2016). Bryant Walker Smith, The Trolley and the Pinto: Cost-Benefit Analysis in Automated Driving and Other Cyber-Physical Systems, 4 Tex. A&M L. Rev. 197 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2983000

Bryant Walker Smith (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina - Law Library ( email )

1525 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.sc.edu/faculty/smith

University of Michigan Law School Program on Law and Mobility ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.umich.edu/FacultyBio/Pages/FacultyBio.aspx?FacID=bryantws

Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/bws

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