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Should we program machines to intentionally cause someone to die? “No, of course not,” would be most people’s immediate response. But what if doing so prevented a greater number of people from dying?

The answer to the second question may be a bit more difficult to answer, which is the essence of the trolley problem in philosophy, and just one of the ethical issues that’s commonly brought up in discussions about autonomous vehicles, an emergent form of technology generating excitement from some and concerns for many.

Dr. Nicholas G. Evans is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts who focuses the majority of his research on national security and the ethics of emergent technologies. He joins the podcast today to discuss a variety of intriguing topics, including the susceptibility of programmed cars to hacking, the challenges of accounting for novel behaviors and the dangers of not doing so, corporate surveillance, and how the longer average lifetime of vehicles could drive the next big innovation in sensor and automated vehicle technologies.

Interested in learning more about Dr. Evans’ work? Visit and reach out to him via


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