The problem of machine ethics in artificial intelligence

  • Rajakishore NathEmail author
  • Vineet Sahu
Original Article


The advent of the intelligent robot has occupied a significant position in society over the past decades and has given rise to new issues in society. As we know, the primary aim of artificial intelligence or robotic research is not only to develop advanced programs to solve our problems but also to reproduce mental qualities in machines. The critical claim of artificial intelligence (AI) advocates is that there is no distinction between mind and machines and thus they argue that there are possibilities for machine ethics, just as human ethics. Unlike computer ethics, which has traditionally focused on ethical issues surrounding human use of machines, AI or machine ethics is concerned with the behaviour of machines towards human users and perhaps other machines as well, and the ethicality of these interactions. The ultimate goal of machine ethics, according to the AI scientists, is to create a machine that itself follows an ideal ethical principle or a set of principles; that is to say, it is guided by this principle or these principles in decisions it makes about possible courses of action it could takea. Thus, machine ethics task of ensuring ethical behaviour of an artificial agent. Although, there are many philosophical issues related to artificial intelligence, but our attempt in this paper is to discuss, first, whether ethics is the sort of thing that can be computed. Second, if we are ascribing mind to machines, it gives rise to ethical issues regarding machines. And if we are not drawing the difference between mind and machines, we are not only redefining specifically human mind but also the society as a whole. Having a mind is, among other things, having the capacity to make voluntary decisions and actions. The notion of mind is central to our ethical thinking, and this is because the human mind is self-conscious, and this is a property that machines lack, as yet.


Artificial intelligence Artificial moral agent Moral agency Mind Subjectivity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIIT KanpurKanpurIndia

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