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The need for and nature of a normative, cultural psychology of weaponized AI (artificial intelligence)

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Abstract

The use of AI in weapons systems raises numerous ethical issues. To date, work on weaponized AI has tended to be theoretical and normative in nature, consisting in critical policy analyses and ethical considerations, carried out by philosophers, legal scholars, and political scientists. However, adequately addressing the cultural and social dimensions of technology requires insights and methods from empirical moral and cultural psychology. To do so, this position piece describes the motivations for and sketches the nature of a normative, cultural psychology of weaponized AI. The motivations for this project include the increasingly global, cross-cultural and international, nature of technologies, and counter-intuitive nature of normative thoughts and behaviors. The nature of this project consists in developing standardized measures of AI ethical reasoning and intuitions, coupled with questions exploring the development of norms, administered and validated across different cultural groups and disciplinary contexts. The goal of this piece is not to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the cultural facets and psychological dimensions of weaponized AI but, rather, to outline in broad terms the contours of an emerging research agenda.

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Notes

  1. This characterization is based on (Bicchieri, 2016; Chudek & Henrich, 2011; Sripada & Stich, 2007). However, debate exists concerning the nature of norms/norm systems. See (Kelly & Setman, 2020) for a helpful overview. Understandings of norms in the field of international relations – in which one of the authors does most of her work – are quite different from the characterization provided above. See (Bode & Huelss, 2022) for an account oriented in scholarship on international relations.

  2. The importance attached to values, one could argue, results from Western-centric, individualistic biases, where the pursuit of preferred states is given exaggerated importance in decision-making, rather than, for example, expectations about what others are doing or expect one to do (Bicchieri, 2016). One might argue that expectations about what others are doing or expect one to do is indicative of a preferred value, for example, harmony or community. However, this response supposes that individuals initially stand apart from/are different from groups. Independent conceptions of personhood such as these are in the cultural and historical minority. Most peoples, in most places, throughout most of time have conceived of themselves in interdependent terms, as thoroughly embedded in communities (Henrich, 2020; Nisbett, 2010).

  3. In reality, this might not always be the case. For example, international law is affected by diplomatic negotiations, which always involve a degree of ambiguity.

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Funding

This material is based on work supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 2124984. Professor Ingvild Bode’s contribution to this paper was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No. 852123).

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Clancy, R., Bode, I. & Zhu, Q. The need for and nature of a normative, cultural psychology of weaponized AI (artificial intelligence). Ethics Inf Technol 25, 6 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-023-09680-3

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