Project group: The Moral Coders

Team Name: The Moral Coders

Your group members: Frank Thompson, Tony Karola, Caroline Close, Galen Erickson

A description of what you want to do
We are looking to test people’s responses to ethical dilemmas.  Specifically we are looking to create a variation of the trolley problem.  Since the original trolley problem doesn’t present a situation modern people are likely to encounter, we want to try to vary the setup so that the thought experiment hits closer to our everyday experiences.  Time and resources permitting, we would like to see people’s reactions to multiple scenarios including those that vary features of the victims such as race, age, or gender to see what changes (if any) these factors incur.

The user will be placed in front of some simple (likely binary) decision making device, like a lever, steering wheel, etc. They will then be presented with the various ethical dilemmas (e.g.,, possibly with a time constraint, and will be tasked with using this device to make a decision. Almost all choices will result in deaths of some innocent (virtual) people, and we will record data determining the user’s implicit moral priorities (utilitarian, certain ethnicities over others, a gender or age priority, responsibility aversion, destructive hedonism, etc), as well as possibly survey participants on their decisions.

Concept art


What equipment you plan to use; what equipment we don’t have
We don’t have any equipment; we plan to use any head mounted VR system + an input device (HTC Vive).

A description of what you think you know how to do (as a group)
Tony – I am an experienced programmer + some experience with computer graphic
Frank – I’ve dabbled with Unity a bit in the past + some experience with programming, I’m reasonably familiar with ethics studies.
Caroline – I have experience a little experience with programming. I am really familiar with ethics studies and creating experiments.
Galen – I’ve done a significant amount of modeling with solidworks so I should be helpful when creating models for the simulation. I’ve got programming experience as well as some experience developing a UI.

A description of things you are less sure you know how to do (as a group)
Tony – I don’t have any experience with creating content for VR
Frank – No experience with CG
Caroline – I don’t have any experience with programming in VR.
Galen – The biggest challenge will likely be bringing everything together in Unity. We all have some experience with the individual aspects of creating a simulation but none with tieing it all together.

What are your first steps?

  • Arrange regular project meetings
  • Set up a new Unity project for collaboration in group
  • Plan the basic scenario

Next Steps?

  • Implement the basic framework in Unity for the kind of scenario we want to set up.
  • Add data collection/survey features


  • Conduct user testing to see if we’re in the ballpark of desired responses
  • Alter simulation based on user feedback to create as much presence as possible.
  • Extend the basic framework into multiple scenarios