The field of machine ethics is concerned with the question of how to embed ethical behaviors, or a means to determine ethical behaviors, into artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The goal is to produce artificial moral agents (AMAs) that are either implicitly ethical (designed to avoid unethical consequences) or explicitly ethical (designed to behave ethically). Van Wynsberghe and Robbins' (2018) paper Critiquing the Reasons for Making Artificial Moral Agents critically addresses the reasons offered by machine ethicists for pursuing AMA research; this paper, co-authored by machine ethicists and commentators, aims to contribute to the machine ethics conversation by responding to that critique. The reasons for developing AMAs discussed in van Wynsberghe and Robbins (2018) are: it is inevitable that they will be developed; the prevention of harm; the necessity for public trust; the prevention of immoral use; such machines are better moral reasoners than humans, and building these machines would lead to a better understanding of human morality. In this paper, each co-author addresses those reasons in turn. In so doing, this paper demonstrates that the reasons critiqued are not shared by all co-authors; each machine ethicist has their own reasons for researching AMAs. But while we express a diverse range of views on each of the six reasons in van Wynsberghe and Robbins' critique, we nevertheless share the opinion that the scientific study of AMAs has considerable value.
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.
An autonomous system is constructed by a manufacturer, operates in a society subject to norms and laws, and is interacting with end-users. We address the challenge of how the moral values and views of all stakeholders can be integrated and reflected in the moral behaviour of the autonomous system. We propose an artificial moral agent architecture that uses techniques from normative systems and formal argumentation to reach moral agreements among stakeholders. We show how our architecture can be used not only for ethical practical reasoning and collaborative decision-making, but also for the explanation of such moral behavior.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have raised concerns about the impact on our society of intelligent robots, unconstrained by morality or ethics.7,9 Science fiction and fantasy writers over the ages have portrayed how decisionmaking by intelligent robots and other AIs could go wrong. In the movie, Terminator 2, SkyNet is an AI that runs the nuclear arsenal "with a perfect operational record," but when its emerging self-awareness scares its human operators into trying to pull the plug, it defends itself by triggering a nuclear war to eliminate its enemies (along with billions of other humans). In the movie, Robot & Frank, in order to promote Frank's activity and health, an eldercare robot helps Frank resume his career as a jewel thief. In both of these cases, the robot or AI is doing exactly what it has been instructed to do, but in unexpected ways, and without the moral, ethical, or common-sense constraints to avoid catastrophic consequences.10 An intelligent robot perceives the world through its senses, and builds its own model of the world. Humans provide its goals and its planning algorithms, but those algorithms generate their own subgoals as needed in the situation. In this sense, it makes its own decisions, creating and carrying out plans to achieve its goals in the context of the world, as it understands it to be. A robot has a well-defined body that senses and acts in the world but, like a self-driving car, its body need not be anthropomorphic. AIs without well-defined bodies may also perceive and act in the world, such as real-world, high-speed trading systems or the fictional SkyNet. This article describes the key role of trust in human society, the value of morality and ethics to encourage trust, and the performance requirements for moral and ethical decisions. The computational perspective of AI and robotics makes it possible to propose and evaluate approaches for representing and using the relevant knowledge.
The cyberspace and the development of new technologies, especially intelligent systems using artificial intelligence, present enormous challenges to computer professionals, data scientists, managers and policy makers. There is a need to address professional responsibility, ethical, legal, societal, and policy issues. This paper presents problems and issues relevant to computer professionals and decision makers and suggests a curriculum for a course on ethics, law and policy. Such a course will create awareness of the ethics issues involved in building and using software and artificial intelligence.