The “trolley problem” is an ethics dilemma that has perplexed mankind for decades. The thought experiment presents a difficult choice: A trolley is heading down the tracks towards five men tied up and unable to move. They will be killed if the trolley continues down that track. However, you have access to a lever that can divert the trolley onto another track on which there is only one man. If you divert the trolley, one will die, but the other five will be saved. What do you do?
While most adults will expectedly scratch their heads over this one, what if you put a two-year-old to the task? One parent did. The little boy, with little understanding of ethics and morals, found a solution promptly, as you can watch in the video above.
This tweet summed up the two-year-old’s efforts:
The trolley question was devised by Philippa Foot in 1967 to question moral imperatives. The answers have been varied and complex, creating a divide between different schools of moral thought. The conundrum even became an internet sensation, with many parodies and memes dedicated to it.
It is also the question that gave rise to Isaac Asimov’s Zeroth Law of Robotics, which grew from a similar situation faced by a robot with a positronic brain: “A robot may not harm humanity, or through inaction allow humanity to come to harm.”