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TED Video: The Trolley Problem


Eoin Duffy created this video to illustrate 'The Trolley Problem' - would you kill one person if that would save 5 others? 

A short animation from Eoin Duffy for TED Ed. 90% of 3D created in Blender. Hand, brain, and bird models kindly provided by blend Swap users Super Dasil, Mahesh and Pranavjit Virdi.

At first it appears most would sacrifice one person to save five. But the Trolley Problem shows that not all decisions in morality are set in black and white. The manner in how the sacrificed person is killed, the sex of the participants, the mindset of the participants – all weigh in to blur the boundaries of a seemingly straight forward decision. This is bad news for new technologies, such as self driving cars and military drones, that require clear predetermined guidelines when weighing the value of human life. So highlighting these obstacles via the Trolley Problem is helping researchers and philosophers address the complex problem of programming ethics into machines.


  • Directed By Eoin Duffy
  • Writer: Eleanor Nelsen
  • Audio: David Kamp
  • Animation:
    • Eoin Duffy
    • Tyler Morgan
    • Super Dasil
    • Mahesh
    • Hovsepyan Karen
    • Cooper Custom
    • Pranavjit Virdi
  • Narrator: Addison Anderson
  • Producer: Gerta Xhelo
  • Production Coordinator: Jessica Ruby


    • Marcin Nagraba on

      From interview:

      Q: What are the software packages you use for 2D and 3D animation?

      A: My go-to 2D program is Adobe Flash. I started mucking around with it years ago, making animated websites. This eventually progressed into motion graphics and eventually animation. The program, along with all its restrictions, is now a vital part of my graphic style. Around the same time I started off in Flash, I discovered Blender 3D, an open-source 3D program freely available online. Its a vastly powerful package that I have only minutely mastered, but the capabilities rival any 3D package on the market. It also has a great community surrounding it.

  1. I wouldint push the fat man off the bridge because im not %100 sure his body would stop the trolley, we are made mostly of water. Besides, its illegal to walk on train tracks and not illegal to walk on bridges for a reason. Blender ftw

  2. Food for thought...

    Human should know better than to involve itself & enforce own judgement onto others.
    What about the butterfly effect, then... who is to say that one is not gonna save millions in another act...
    Killing anyone for any purpose (even sacrifice; also note: self-defense is not killing) is wrong. It is a case of not acting that gives the best outcome for a deciding individual to perform. Help by observing and sharing ethereal motion...

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