Allocating life and death: crashes, ventilators, and vaccines
Programming self-driving cars to decide who should be saved during a crash. Deciding which covid patient should receive artificial ventilation when there are more patients than ventilators. Deciding who should get the covid vaccine, as long as we don't have enough doses for everyone. These are three examples of policies that directly or indirectly allocate life and death, and that are developed under high public scrutiny. In such cases, it is important to be aware of which priorities are the most acceptable to the public, in order to avoid loss of trust, opt-out behaviors, and policy instability. I will summarize three research programs that attempted to identify these priorities through large-scale, multinational experimental surveys. Through choice experiments, we measured in 100+ countries which road users people want self-driving cars to save in priority when a crash is unavoidable; we measured in 20 countries which covid patients people think should get a ventilator when there are not enough ventilators for all patients; and we measured in 13 countries which citizens people want to have priority access for covid vaccines when there are not enough doses to vaccinate everyone in the short-term.