Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 107–115 | Cite as

A Rawlsian algorithm for autonomous vehicles

  • Derek LebenEmail author
Original Paper


Autonomous vehicles must be programmed with procedures for dealing with trolley-style dilemmas where actions result in harm to either pedestrians or passengers. This paper outlines a Rawlsian algorithm as an alternative to the Utilitarian solution. The algorithm will gather the vehicle’s estimation of probability of survival for each person in each action, then calculate which action a self-interested person would agree to if he or she were in an original bargaining position of fairness. I will employ Rawls’ assumption that the Maximin procedure is what self-interested agents would use from an original position, and then show how the Maximin procedure can be operationalized to produce unique outputs over probabilities of survival.


Autonomous vehicles Ethics Rawls Trolley problem 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh at JohnstownJohnstownUSA

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