Computers are already approving financial transactions, controlling electrical supplies, and driving trains. Soon, service robots will be taking care of the elderly in their homes, and military robots will have their own targeting and firing protocols. Colin Allen and Wendell Wallach argue that as robots take on more and more responsibility, they must be programmed with moral decision-making abilities, for our own safety. Taking a fast paced tour through the latest thinking about philosophical ethics and artificial intelligence, the authors argue that even if full moral agency for machines is a long way off, it is already necessary to start building a kind of functional morality, in which artificial moral agents have some basic ethical sensitivity. But the standard ethical theories don't seem adequate, and more socially engaged and engaging robots will be needed. As the authors show, the quest to build machines that are capable of telling right from wrong has begun.
Moral Machines is the first book to examine the challenge of building artificial moral agents, probing deeply into the nature of human decision making and ethics.
Submitted by Exponential Times on Sat, 2014-02-08 11:56
When is it ethically acceptable to harm another sentient being? On some fairly modest assumptions, to harm or kill someone simply on the grounds they belong to a different gender, sexual orientation or ethnic group is unjustified. Such distinctions are real but ethically irrelevant. On the other hand, species membership is normally reckoned an ethically relevant criterion. Fundamental to our conceptual scheme is the pre-Darwinian distinction between "humans" and "animals". In law, nonhuman animals share with inanimate objects the status of property. As property, nonhuman animals can be bought, sold, killed or otherwise harmed as humans see fit. In consequence, humans treat nonhuman animals in ways that would earn a life-time prison sentence without parole if our victims were human. From an evolutionary perspective, this contrast in status isn't surprising. In our ancestral environment of adaptation, the capacity to hunt, kill and exploit sentient beings of other species was fitness-enhancing. Our moral intuitions have been shaped accordingly. Yet can we ethically justify such behaviour today?
Science fiction writer Brin (The Uplift War) departs from technological fantasy to focus on the social and political ramifications of our information age.
While addressing the technology-vs.-privacy debate, he offers an informed overview of the issues and a useful historical account of how current policies evolved. Also beneficial are his descriptions of the different viewpoints on encryption software, online anonymity, the Clipper Chip and techno-jargon. But when Brin opines on these topics, the book suffers from superficiality.
He appends remarks to the end of each chapter as this: “When you’ve been invited to a really neat party, try to dance with the one who brought you.” His main point — that information and criticism should flow unrestricted — is lost in a melange of armchair social science theory and unrelated observations on the media, morality, identity and manners.
Submitted by Exponential Times on Sat, 2013-12-28 02:24
On December 7, 2013 Robert C. Jones spoke on "What Might a Species-Free Ethics Look Like?" at the Personhood Beyond the Human conference at Yale University.
Robert C. Jones received his PhD in philosophy from Stanford University in 2005 where his doctoral research examined the moral significance of nonhuman animal cognition. His professional research investigates the substantive cognitive properties that bear on the ethical treatment and moral considerability of both human and nonhuman animals. In addition, his research includes food ethics, environmental ethics, mind and cognition, species studies, and the question of what it is to be human.
Robert has been a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University and a visiting researcher for the Ethics in Society Project at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and most recently a Summer Fellow at the Animals & Society Institute. He has given talks at Stanford, Yale, Wesleyan, UCLA, and the University of Auckland. Robert joined the faculty of California State University, Chico, in 2008 as Assistant Professor of Philosophy.
Apocalyptic AI, the hope that we might one day upload our minds into machines or cyberspace and live forever, is a surprisingly wide-spread and influential idea, affecting everything from the world view of online gamers to government research funding and philosophical thought. In Apocalyptic AI, Robert Geraci offers the first serious account of this “cyber-theology” and the people who promote it.
Maxwell J. Mehlman is the Arthur E. Petersilge Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University and the Director of the Law-Medicine Center at Case Western University’s School of Medicine.
Professor Mehlman received a BA from Reed College in 1970 and a JD from Yale Law School in 1975. In between college and law school, he was a Rhodes Scholar, earning his second Bachelor’s Degree from Oxford University in 1972. After completing law school, he practiced with the Washington D.C. firm of Arnold & Porter, where he specialized in federal regulation of medical technology. He joined the faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1984. Since 1986, he has been the Director of the Law-Medicine Center. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Professor Mehlman a significant two-year grant to review, and then address, any public policy gaps in guidelines and ethical differences between therapeutic and enhancement genetic research that involves human subjects.
His principal areas of research and teaching include: the patient-physician relationship; the rights of patients; genetics, ethics, and the law; biomedical enhancement; quality assurance and malpractice; rationing; and health reform.
His recent publications include: Genetics: Ethics, Law and Policy [Second Edition] (2006, co-authored with Lori Andrews and Mark Rothstein); and Wondergenes: Genetic Enhancement and the Future of Society (2003).
Progress in genetic and reproductive technology now offers us the possibility of choosing what kinds of children we do and don't have. Should we welcome this power, or should we fear its implications? There is no ethical question more urgent than this: we may be at a turning-point in the history of humanity. The renowned moral philosopher and best-selling author Jonathan Glover shows us how we might try to answer this question, and other provoking and disturbing questions to which it leads.
Surely parents owe it to their children to give them the best life they can? Increasingly we are able to reduce the number of babies born with disabilities and disorders. But there is a powerful new challenge to conventional thinking about the desirability of doing so: this comes from the voices of those who have these conditions. They call into question the very definition of disability. How do we justify trying to avoid bringing people like them into being?
Written by four internationally renowned bioethicists, From Chance to Choice is the first systematic treatment of the fundamental ethical issues underlying the application of genetic technologies to human beings. Probing the implications of the remarkable advances in genetics, the authors ask how should these affect our understanding of distributive justice, equality of opportunity, the rights and obligations as parents, the meaning of disability, and the role of the concept of human nature in ethical theory and practice. The book offers a historical context to contemporary debate over the use of these technologies by examining the eugenics movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition, appendices explain the nature of genetic causation, gene-environment interaction, and expose widespread misconceptions of genetic determinism, as well as outlining the nature of the ethical analysis used in the book.