pp 1–10 | Cite as

Decentered ethics in the machine era and guidance for AI regulation

  • Christian Hugo HoffmannEmail author
  • Benjamin Hahn
Open Forum


Recent advancements in AI have prompted a large number of AI ethics guidelines published by governments and nonprofits. While many of these papers propose concrete or seemingly applicable ideas, few philosophically sound proposals are made. In particular, we observe that the line of questioning has often not been examined critically and underlying conceptual problems not always dealt with at the root. In this paper, we investigate the nature of ethical AI systems and what their moral status might be by first turning to the notions of moral agency and patience. We find that their explication would come at a too high cost which is why we, second, articulate a different approach that avoids vague and ambiguous concepts or the problem of other minds. Third, we explore the impact of our philosophical and conceptual analysis on the regulatory landscape, make this link explicit, and finally propose a set of promising policy steps.


AI ethics Decentralization Moral status Moral patiency Regulations 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have any competing interests in the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Entrepreneurial RisksETH Risk CenterZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Autonomous Systems LabETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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