Thursday, July 28, 2011

Advancing Ethics

Chris Santos-Lang, an early contributor to bottom-up theories for developing moral machines, has a new article online titled, Advancing Ethics.
Much as we have good reason to think we can invest intelligently in science to get technological rewards, we have offered good reason to think one can invest intelligently in ethics to improve decision-making. It would be reckless and naive, in our advanced society, to continue thinking of ethics as an obscure academic interest, a mere set of intellectual games, or theological controversies far beyond our comprehension and removed from the economic realities that dominate real life. Ethics, just like transportation, agriculture, commerce, education and health, deserves our attention in a practical and future-oriented way. Just as a department of commerce must be careful about affiliating with any particular existing business, a department of ethics would have to be careful about affiliating with any particular religion or system of rules, but that would not stop it from monitoring the ethical ecosystem (especially warning about dramatic changes) just as we monitor commerce.

Machine Ethics Anthology

The long await anthology titled, Machine Ethics, and edited by Michael and Susan Leigh Anderson has been published by Cambridge University Press. The volume includes both classic articles and more recent material on this emerging field. The contributors are: James Moor, Susan Leigh Anderson, J. Storrs Hall, Colin Allen, Wendell Wallach, Iva Smit, Sherry Turkel, Drew McDermott, Steve Torrance, Blay Whitby, John Sullins, Deborah G. Johnson, Luciano Floridi, David J. Calverley, James Gips, Roger Clarke, Bruce McLaren, Marcello Guarini, Alan K. Mackworth, Selmer Bringsjord, Joshua Taylor, Bram van Heuveln, Konstantine Arkoudas, Micah Clark, Ralph Wojtowicz, Matteo Turilli, Luis Moniz Pereira, Ari Saptawijaya, Morteza Dehghani, Ken Forbus, Emmett Tomai, Matthew Klenk, Peter Danielson, Christopher Grau, Thomas M. Powers, Michael Anderson, Helen Seville, Debora G. Field, Eric Dietrich.

The new field of machine ethics is concerned with giving machines ethical principles, or a procedure for discovering a way to resolve the ethical dilemmas they might encounter, enabling them to function in an ethically responsible manner through their own ethical decision making. Developing ethics for machines, in contrast to developing ethics for human beings who use machines, is by its nature an interdisciplinary endeavor. The essays in this volume represent the first steps by philosophers and artificial intelligence researchers toward explaining why it is necessary to add an ethical dimension to machines that function autonomously, what is required in order to add this dimension, philosophical and practical challenges to the machine ethics project, various approaches that could be considered in attempting to add an ethical dimension to machines, work that has been done to date in implementing these approaches, and visions of the future of machine ethics research.

Machine Ethics can be purchased from Amazon here.