Using the Double Transparency of Autonomous Vehicles to Increase Fairness and Social Welfare

  • Jie XuEmail author
  • Min Ding
Research Article


Fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) create double transparency regarding human driving decisions. Opaque decision rules in the human mind have become transparent in AVs, and in turn, can be made transparent to third parties. This double transparency is creating an unprecedented opportunity to regulate driving decision rules to eliminate unreasonable selfishness and increase fairness and social welfare because AVs can be programmed to follow regulations 100% of the time. In this experimental ethics study, we performed an incentive aligned online experiment to examine humans’ willingness to sacrifice other people’s lives to protect their own in five different accident scenarios and to investigate the potential for AV regulation to curb unreasonable selfishness, thereby increasing fairness and social welfare. Our results reveal the need to regulate rules governing AV driving decisions; yet, a full transparency policy for decision algorithms may not necessarily lead to desired social effects. Thus, regulations should be tailored to different scenarios.


Autonomous vehicles Transparency Fairness Social welfare Ethics 



We gratefully acknowledge support through Institute for Sustainable Innovation and Growth, School of Management, Fudan University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study via electronic signatures in the survey and possible consequences of the studies were explained.

Supplementary material

40547_2019_93_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (179 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 179 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Smeal College of BusinessThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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