Ethics of AIs

Most discusssions of ethics in AIs or robots involve implanting some kind of code of behavior into the system that ensures the kind of behavior that we would agree with. Asimov’s three laws of robotics are an example of this type of “ethical governor”.

Since the definition of intelligence implies some reasoning ability and at least one possible goal of artificial intelligence is to create an intelligence that can operate autonomously and can re-program it’s own goals and boundaries, it will eventually become essential for the AI to be capable of self-reasoning on ethical decisions as well.

This requires several things in addition to the classical reasoning ability implied in conventional definitions of AI. The starting point is a solid understanding of what ethical reasoning is (without any moral coefficients added in yet). Then, a framework of logical/mathematical implementation of that reasoning must be developed. And finally, the decision coefficients, or boundary factors that help determine how the reasoning will be accomplished can be selected.

Machine Ethics: Creating an Ethical Intelligent Agent – []

We have argued that machine ethics is an important new field of artificial intelligence and that its goal should be to create machines that are explicit ethical agents. We have done preliminary work to show—through our proof of concept applications in constrained domains—that it may be possible to incorporate an explicit ethical component into a machine. Ensuring that a machine with an ethical component can function autonomously in the world remains a challenge to researchers in artificial intelligence who must further investigate the representation and determination of ethical principles, the incorporation of these ethical principles into a system’s decision procedure, ethical decision making with incomplete and uncertain knowledge, the explanation for decisions made using ethical principles, and the evaluation of systems that act based upon ethical principles. Of the many challenges facing those who choose to work in the area of machine ethics, foremost is the need for a dialogue between ethicists and researchers in artificial intelligence. Each has much to gain from working together on this project. For ethicists, there is the opportunity of clarifying—perhaps even discovering the fundamental principles of ethics. For AI researchers, convincing the general public that ethical machines can be created may permit continued support for work leading to the development of autonomous intelligent machines — machines that might serve to improve the lives of human beings.

AI Topics / Ethics – []
This is an excellent reading list on ethics and artificial intelligence:

As computers are programmed to act more like people, several social and ethical concerns come into focus. For example: Are there ethical bounds on what computers should be programmed to do? Sources listed here focus on AI, but also included are works that range more broadly into the general impact of computerization.

Introductory Readings

Ethics vs Morals

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