Symposium: When the Ethics Meets the Road - How Should Cars Decide? (Friday, May 19, 3:30-5:30pm in Bldg. 320, Room 105) » Show

May 19, 2017

Start Date

& End Date

3:30 p.m.

Start Time


5:30 p.m.

End Time

at 320-105


A Free Public Symposium
Celebrating the 30th Anniversay of Symbolic Systems

"When the Ethics Meets the Road: How Should Cars Decide?"


Joshua Greene
Psychology Department, Harvard University
Thomas A. Wasow Visiting Scholar in Symbolic Systems

Stefan Heck ('92)

Clayton Kunz ('95)
Automotive Robotics Engineer and Researcher

Wendy Ju
Mechanical Engineering Department


Joshua Cohen
Apple University

Friday, May 19, 2017
3:30-5:30 pm
Building 320, Room 105 (Geology Corner)
campus map link

This symposium -- a public event that is part of the Symbolic Systems Program's 30th Anniversary Celebration weekend -- will bring together four thinkers and doers whose work relates to the ethics of driverless cars. This new technology brings robotic and software engineering into contact with life-or-death decisions on highways and streets. Should cars risk one person's life in order to save a greater number of people? Should traffic decisions factor in all of the ethical issues that could inform them when massive data are available, e.g., a doctor needing to go faster than the speed limit to maximize the chances of saving a patient; yielding to a driver with a known history of reckless driving; or failing to swerve in order to avoid a pedestrian who throws himself onto a freeway, because swerving would endanger others? Should a driverless car prioritize the life of its occupants over others? Should it make decisions that would be unnatural for humans but that would lead to better consequences overall?


Joshua Cohen
Joshua is the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and Professor of Philosophy and of Law, Emeritus; a faculty member at Apple University; a Distinguished Senior Fellow in Law, Philosophy, and Political Science at UC Berkeley; and co-editor of Boston Review.

Joshua Greene
Joshua is Professor of Psychology, a member of the Center for Brain Science faculty, and the director of the Greene Lab at Harvard University, as well as being the current Thomas A. Wasow Visiting Scholar in Symbolic Systems. . His research has focused on the psychology and neuroscience of moral judgment and decision-making. His broader interests cluster around the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. He is the author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them.

Stefan Heck (B.S. Symbolic Systems '92)
Stefan is a globally-recognized business strategist, entrepreneur, author and most recently, Co-Founder and CEO of NAUTO: an urban transportation data and hardware system. For 20 years Heck has worked with some of the world's biggest companies and public entities on improving innovation, energy, transportation, supply chain efficiency and resource economics.

Wendy Ju
Wendy is Executive Director for Interaction Design Research at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University, and Associate Professor of Interaction Design in the Design MFA program at California College of the Arts. Her work in the areas of human-robot interaction and automated vehicle interfaces highlights the ways that interactive devices can communicate and engage people without interrupting or intruding. She has innovated numerous methods for early-stage prototyping of automated systems to understand how people will respond to systems before the systems are built. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford.

Clayton Kunz (B.S. Symbolic Systems '95)
Clay has been an "in the trenches" field robotics engineer since 1998. He has built and deployed autonomous museum tour guides at a small startup company, planetary exploration rovers at NASA, and free-swimming autonomous underwater vehicles at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He finished his PhD in computer science and ocean engineering at MIT in 2011, and has been working in the driverless car industry since 2013.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017 (7:00-9:00pm) - Philosophy Talk Live
"Driverless Cars at the Moral Crossroads" (pre-registration required, reception following event)
Cubberley Auditorium


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