Emeritus Prof of Philosophy, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Title of Paper:
The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
Subdisciplinary Area: AI ethics
Keywords: AI ethics, machine ethics, top-down and bottom-up approaches to ethics, moral status, artificial moral agents (AMAs)
Abstract: As AI systems become increasingly pervasive in our lives and operate in increasingly autonomous ways, we will “need to supply them with more and more ethical capabilities, like it or not” (Moor, 2009). This area has become known as “machine ethics”. I will consider the question of how, exactly, we are to “get ethics into machines”, such that they operate as if they were some kind of moral agent. I will consider the pros and cons of “top-down” approaches to this question (i.e., feeding higher-level ethical theories/principles into AI systems), “bottom-up” approaches (i.e., training AI systems on masses of morally-laden cases), and “hybrid” approaches, which seek to combine the two.
Although I will focus on the question of how we are to get machines to act ethically in respect of humans, other sentient beings, and the wider-world, these matters inevitably raise an important further matter, namely, if – or when – we create artificial moral agents (AMAs), what would their moral status be; if significant, how might we be obliged to act towards AMAs themselves?
(I will not have time to discuss this further matter in my presentation but mention it here because I would be more than happy to discuss it with participants informally).
Warwick Fox is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Central Lancashire, and his books include A Theory of General Ethics: Human relationships, nature, and the built environment; Toward a Transpersonal Ecology: Developing new foundations for environmentalism; Ethics and the Built Environment (ed.); and the rather different, On Beautiful Days Such as This: A philosopher’s search for love, work, place, meaning, and suchlike.