This “Ethical Trap” Is for Roboticists, Not Robots: On the Issue of Artificial Agent Ethical Decision-Making
- 479 Downloads
In this paper we address the question of when a researcher is justified in describing his or her artificial agent as demonstrating ethical decision-making. The paper is motivated by the amount of research being done that attempts to imbue artificial agents with expertise in ethical decision-making. It seems clear that computing systems make decisions, in that they make choices between different options; and there is scholarship in philosophy that addresses the distinction between ethical decision-making and general decision-making. Essentially, the qualitative difference between ethical decisions and general decisions is that ethical decisions must be part of the process of developing ethical expertise within an agent. We use this distinction in examining publicity surrounding a particular experiment in which a simulated robot attempted to safeguard simulated humans from falling into a hole. We conclude that any suggestions that this simulated robot was making ethical decisions were misleading.
KeywordsArtificial agents Decision-making Ethical expertise
- Arkin, R. C. (2008). Governing lethal behavior: Embedding ethics in a hybrid deliberative/reactive robot architecture part I: Motivation and philosophy. 3rd ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction.Google Scholar
- Englert, M., Siebert, S., & Ziegler, M. (2014). Logical limitations to machine ethics with consequences to lethal autonomous weapons. ArXiv 1411.2842.Google Scholar
- European University Institute. (2013). Code of ethics in academic research. http://www.eui.eu/Documents/ServicesAdmin/DeanOfStudies/CodeofEthicsinAcademicResearch.pdf. Accessed November 30, 2015.
- Principles of Robotics. (2015). Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/research/ourportfolio/themes/engineering/activities/principlesofrobotics/. Accessed January 31, 2015.
- Shirky, C. (2009). A speculative post on the idea of algorithmic authority. http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/11/a-speculative-post-on-the-idea-of-algorithmic-authority/. Accessed November 30, 2015.
- Wallach, W., & Allen, C. (2008). Moral machines: Teaching robots right from wrong. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Winfield, A. F. T., Blum, C., & Liu, W. (2014). Towards an ethical robot: Internal models, consequences and ethical action selection. In M. Mistry, A. Leonardis, M. Witkowski & C. Melhuish (Eds.), Advances in autonomous robotics systems (pp. 85–96). Berlin: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
- Yahoo. (2015). Trap definition. https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=trap+definition. Accessed January 31, 2015.