It’s a safe bet that lawyers will continue to sue people no matter what design approach roboticists adopt. It is also entirely possible that if we stick to a traditional model of product liability, the introduction of ethics settings could expose users and manufacturers to complicated new kinds of liability suits, just as informed consent requirements have in healthcare.
However, there is a growing belief that autonomous cars and other robots require a significant legal rethinking if we are to regulate them appropriately.
For starters, we could choose to consider a manufacturer’s failure to obtain informed consent from a user, in situations involving deep moral commitments, a kind of product defect. Just as a doctor would be liable for failing to seek a patient’s informed consent before proceeding with a medical treatment, so too could we consider manufacturers liable for failing to reasonably respect user’s explicit moral preferences in the design of autonomous cars and other technologies. This approach would add considerably to the complexity of design. Then again, nobody said engineering robots was supposed to be simple.