We live in the digital world, where every day we interact with digital systems either through a mobile device or from inside a car. These systems are increasingly autonomous in making decisions over and above their users or on behalf of them. As a consequence, ethical issues--privacy ones included (for example, unauthorized disclosure and mining of personal data, access to restricted resources)--are emerging as matters of utmost concern since they affect the moral rights of each human being and have an impact on the social, economic, and political spheres. Europe is at the forefront of the regulation and reflections on these issues through its institutional bodies. Privacy with respect to the processing of personal data is recognized as part of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.
For the first time since 1992, the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (the Code) is being updated. The Code Update Task Force in conjunction with the Committee on Professional Ethics is seeking advice from ACM members on the update. We indicated many of the motivations for changing the Code when we shared Draft 1 of Code 2018 with the ACM membership in the December 2016 issue of CACMb and with others through email and the COPE website (ethics.acm.org). Since December, we have been collecting feedback and are vetting proposed changes. We have seen a broad range of concerns about responsible computing including bullying in social media, cyber security, and autonomous machines making ethically significant decisions. The Task Force appreciates the many serious and thoughtful comments it has received. In response, the Task Force has proposed changes that are reflected in Draft 2 of the Code. There are a number of substantial changes that require some explanation. In this article, we discuss these, and we explain why we did not include other requested changes in Draft 2. We look forward to receiving your comments on these suggested changes and your requests for additional changes as we work on Draft 3 of the Code. We have provided opportunities for your comments and an open discussion of Draft 2 at the ACM Code 2018 Discussion website [http://code2018.acm.org/discuss]. Comments can also be contributed at the COPE website https://ethics.acm.org, and by direct emails to email@example.com. ACM members are part of the computing profession and the ACM's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct should reflect the conscience of the computing profession.
In the past 18 months, we have seen a huge rise in the interest of AI development and activation. Countries are developing national strategies, and companies are positioning themselves for the fourth industrial revolution. With this pervasive push of AI, comes also an increased awareness that AIs should act in the interest of a human - and this is not as trivial as one might think. This article provides an overview of several key initiatives that propose ways on approaching AI ethics, regulation and sustainability. As this is a fast evolving field, I aim to update this article regularly.
The newly emerging field of machine ethics (Anderson and Anderson 2006) is concerned with adding an ethical dimension to machines. Unlike computer ethics -- which has traditionally focused on ethical issues surrounding humans' use of machines -- machine ethics is concerned with ensuring that the behavior of machines toward human users, and perhaps other machines as well, is ethically acceptable. In this article we discuss the importance of machine ethics, the need for machines that represent ethical principles explicitly, and the challenges facing those working on machine ethics. We also give an example of current research in the field that shows that it is possible, at least in a limited domain, for a machine to abstract an ethical principle from examples of correct ethical judgments and use that principle to guide its own behavior.
Both the ethics of autonomous systems and the problems of their technical implementation have by now been studied in some detail. Less attention has been given to the areas in which these two separate concerns meet. This paper, written by both philosophers and engineers of autonomous systems, addresses a number of issues in machine ethics that are located at precisely the intersection between ethics and engineering. We first discuss the main challenges which, in our view, machine ethics posses to moral philosophy. We them consider different approaches towards the conceptual design of autonomous systems and their implications on the ethics implementation in such systems. Then we examine problematic areas regarding the specification and verification of ethical behavior in autonomous systems, particularly with a view towards the requirements of future legislation. We discuss transparency and accountability issues that will be crucial for any future wide deployment of autonomous systems in society. Finally we consider the, often overlooked, possibility of intentional misuse of AI systems and the possible dangers arising out of deliberately unethical design, implementation, and use of autonomous robots.