Saturday, March 7, 2009

Moral Machines at APPE

Wendell and Colin are in Cincinnati this weekend for the meetings of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics which is doing two sessions on Moral Machines.

In Friday's session, Colin responded to comments by Professors James Wallace and Michael Pritchard. Both of them said they found the book stimulating even though the technical details were a bit beyond them. Their comments focused on what they took to be hard problems facing the attempt to design AMAs. For Jim Wallace this was being fully immersed in human forms of life -- an example he used was the human capacity to effortlessly track property, and structure our behavior around it -- take that coat, not this one, drive around that lot, not through it. For Mike Pritchard, the issues were what he called the problem of judgment -- what happens when top down rules or bottom-up learning don't properly cover the situation -- and the problem of living with others -- how to compromise without losing moral integrity. Good questions, and a lively discussion ensued. But should these difficulties stop us from even starting down the path of making moral machines -- machines that are more sensitive to ethical relevant aspects of the situations they encounter?

Up today (Saturday) Wendell will respond to comments from Professors James Moor, Deborah Johnson, and Thomas Powers.

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