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Teaching Robots Right from Wrong
by Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen
(Oxford | November 13, 2008 | $29.95 |6⅛ x 9¼ | 261 pages | ISBN13: 978-0-19-537404-9)
Who can forget HAL, the evil (or perhaps just misunderstood) artificially intelligent computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or the robots from Isaac Asimov’s stories, which are programmed to follow Asimov’s three laws of robotics, the first of which is “A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm?” It seems that for as long as human beings have been thinking about artificial intelligence, we have been thinking about the morality of such computers. Yet the systems we have today are “ethically blind”—at best they have a kind of operational morality where all the ethical decisions are left to the programmers and users. Is this enough?
Authors Wendell Wallach and Colin think not. In MORAL MACHINES: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong, Wallach and Allen argue that even if full moral agency for machines is a long way in the future, it is already necessary to start building a kind of functional morality, in which artificial moral agents have some basic ethical sensitivity. The world is becoming increasingly populated with computers making decisions that have life and death consequences, and there is the potential for major disaster unless morality can be programmed into the machines. But whose morality? And how can we make morality computable?
Wallach and Allen take us on a fast-paced tour through philosophical ethics and artificial intelligence, showing that we need to start thinking about the morals of machines long before we have created true artificial intelligence. The quest to build machines that are capable of telling right from wrong has begun.
COLIN ALLEN is a Professor of History & Philosophy of Science and of Cognitive Science at Indiana University.
WENDELL WALLACH is a consultant and writer and is affiliated with Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics.
MORAL MACHINES: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong, by Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen,
will be published, in hardcover, by Oxford University Press on November 13, 2008
($29.95 |6⅛ x 9¼ | 261 pages | ISBN13: 978-0-19-537404-9).