Collaborating Authors

The Virtuous Machine - Old Ethics for New Technology? Artificial Intelligence

Modern AI and robotic systems are characterized by a high and ever-increasing level of autonomy. At the same time, their applications in fields such as autonomous driving, service robotics and digital personal assistants move closer to humans. From the combination of both developments emerges the field of AI ethics which recognizes that the actions of autonomous machines entail moral dimensions and tries to answer the question of how we can build moral machines. In this paper we argue for taking inspiration from Aristotelian virtue ethics by showing that it forms a suitable combination with modern AI due to its focus on learning from experience. We furthermore propose that imitation learning from moral exemplars, a central concept in virtue ethics, can solve the value alignment problem. Finally, we show that an intelligent system endowed with the virtues of temperance and friendship to humans would not pose a control problem as it would not have the desire for limitless self-improvement.

How Can We Trust a Robot?

Communications of the ACM

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 ethical challenges of AI


Machine learning algorithms are everywhere. It is not just Facebook and Google. Companies are using them to provide personalized education services and advanced business intelligence services, to fight cancer and to detect counterfeit goods. The technology will make us collectively wealthier and more capable of providing for human welfare, human rights, human justice and the fostering of the virtues we need to live well in communities. We should welcome it and do all that we can to promote it.

Towards An Ethics-Audit Bot Artificial Intelligence

In this paper we focus on artificial intelligence (AI) for governance, not governance for AI, and on just one aspect of governance, namely ethics audit. Different kinds of ethical audit bots are possible, but who makes the choices and what are the implications? In this paper, we do not provide ethical/philosophical solutions, but rather focus on the technical aspects of what an AI-based solution for validating the ethical soundness of a target system would be like. We propose a system that is able to conduct an ethical audit of a target system, given certain socio-technical conditions. To be more specific, we propose the creation of a bot that is able to support organisations in ensuring that their software development lifecycles contain processes that meet certain ethical standards.

Virtual event to examine ethical leadership with AI and Big Data


A global panel will consider how to define ethical leadership and the particular challenges posed by emerging technologies in a virtual event from 1-1:45 p.m. ET on Oct. 28. "Defining Ethical Leadership" is free and open to the public. Those who wish to participate may register online. The event is made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support Leading Ethically in the Age of AI and Big Data, an initiative designed to develop curricula to foster character and ethical values in future leaders, preparing them to respond appropriately to the challenges posed by rapidly evolving technologies, such as artificial intelligence and Big Data management. "As we embark upon the work of our Lilly Endowment grant, a thoughtful conversation about how we define ethical leadership offers an appropriate starting point," said David Reingold, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts and professor of sociology at Purdue, principal investigator for the grant.