After several winters, AI is center-stage once again, with current advances enabling a vast array of AI applications. This renewed wave of AI has brought back to the fore several questions from the past, about philosophical foundations of intelligence and common sense -- predominantly motivated by ethical concerns of AI decision-making. In this paper, we address some of the arguments that led to research interest in intelligent agents, and argue for their relevance even in today's context. Specifically we focus on the cognitive sense of "self" and its role in autonomous decision-making leading to responsible behaviour. The authors hope to make a case for greater research interest in building richer computational models of AI agents with a sense of self.
This paper addresses ontology and ethics of an AI agent called digital me. We define digital me as autonomous, decision-making, and learning agent, representing an individual and having practically immortal own life. It is assumed that digital me is equipped with the big-five personality model, ensuring that it provides a model of some aspects of a strong AI: consciousness, free will, and intentionality. As computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans, digital me can judge the personality of the individual represented by the digital me, other individuals' personalities, and other digital me-s. We describe seven ontological qualities of digital me: a) double-layer status of Digital Being versus digital me, b) digital me versus real me, c) mind-digital me and body-digital me, d) digital me versus doppelganger (shadow digital me), e) non-human time concept, f) social quality, g) practical immortality. We argue that with the advancement of AI's sciences and technologies, there exist two digital me thresholds. The first threshold defines digital me having some (rudimentarily) form of consciousness, free will, and intentionality. The second threshold assumes that digital me is equipped with moral learning capabilities, implying that, in principle, digital me could develop their own ethics which significantly differs from human's understanding of ethics. Finally we discuss the implications of digital me metaethics, normative and applied ethics, the implementation of the Golden Rule in digital me-s, and we suggest two sets of normative principles for digital me: consequentialist and duty based digital me principles.
How obliged can we be to AI, and how much danger does it pose us? A surprising proportion of our society holds exaggerated fears or hopes for AI, such as the fear of robot world conquest, or the hope that AI will indefinitely perpetuate our culture. These misapprehensions are symptomatic of a larger problem—a confusion about the nature and origins of ethics and its role in society. While AI technologies do pose promises and threats, these are not qualitatively different from those posed by other artifacts of our culture which are largely ignored: from factories to advertising, weapons to political systems. Ethical systems are based on notions of identity, and the exaggerated hopes and fears of AI derive from our cultures having not yet accommodated the fact that language and reasoning are no longer uniquely human. The experience of AI may improve our ethical intuitions and self-understanding, potentially helping our societies make better-informed decisions on serious ethical dilemmas.
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.
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.