Last week Mercedes got a lot of attention—and not necessarily the good kind—after one of its managers said that in the future, the automaker’s self-driving cars would prioritize the safety of occupants over pedestrians. Now Mercedes is walking that back, and hard. Apparently doing so would be unethical, unacceptable, and also illegal.
The trolley problem is a classic thought experiment in ethics, which asks you to imagine a trolley headed toward a track that five people are bound to. If you pull a lever, you can redirect the trolley to another track, where one person is bound. Do you do nothing at all and watch five people die? Or pull the lever, change fate and be personally responsible for the death of one person?