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.
Increasingly complex and autonomous systems require machine ethics to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks to society arising from the new technology. It is challenging to decide which type of ethical theory to employ and how to implement it effectively. This survey provides a threefold contribution. Firstly, it introduces a taxonomy to analyze the field of machine ethics from an ethical, implementational, and technical perspective. Secondly, an exhaustive selection and description of relevant works is presented. Thirdly, applying the new taxonomy to the selected works, dominant research patterns and lessons for the field are identified, and future directions for research are suggested.
Therefore, it is essential, in thinking about'ethics', to look beyond the capacities for ethical decision-making and action and the moments of ethical choice and action and into the background of values and the stories behind the choice and action. Similar arguments have been made to affirm the role of social and relational contexts in limiting ethical choices and shaping moral outcomes, and thus the importance to account for them in our ethical reflection.
An important step in the development of value alignment (VA) systems in AI is understanding how VA can reflect valid ethical principles. We propose that designers of VA systems incorporate ethics by utilizing a hybrid approach in which both ethical reasoning and empirical observation play a role. This, we argue, avoids committing the "naturalistic fallacy," which is an attempt to derive "ought" from "is," and it provides a more adequate form of ethical reasoning when the fallacy is not committed. Using quantified model logic, we precisely formulate principles derived from deontological ethics and show how they imply particular "test propositions" for any given action plan in an AI rule base. The action plan is ethical only if the test proposition is empirically true, a judgment that is made on the basis of empirical VA. This permits empirical VA to integrate seamlessly with independently justified ethical principles.