From Coder to Creator: Responsibility Issues in Intelligent Artifact Design

From Coder to Creator: Responsibility Issues in Intelligent Artifact Design

Andreas Matthias (Lingnan University, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-022-6.ch041
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Abstract

Creation of autonomously acting, learning artifacts has reached a point where humans cannot any more be justly held responsible for the actions of certain types of machines. Such machines learn during operation, thus continuously changing their original behaviour in uncontrollable (by the initial manufacturer) ways. They act without effective supervision and have an epistemic advantage over humans, in that their extended sensory apparatus, their superior processing speed and perfect memory render it impossible for humans to supervise the machine’s decisions in real-time. We survey the techniques of artificial intelligence engineering, showing that there has been a shift in the role of the programmer of such machines from a coder (who has complete control over the program in the machine) to a mere creator of software organisms which evolve and develop by themselves. We then discuss the problem of responsibility ascription to such machines, trying to avoid the metaphysical pitfalls of the mind-body problem. We propose five criteria for purely legal responsibility, which are in accordance both with the findings of contemporary analytic philosophy and with legal practise. We suggest that Stahl’s (2006) concept of “quasi-responsibility” might also be a way to handle the responsibility gap.
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Introduction

Since the dawn of civilization, man has lived together with artifacts: tools and machines he himself has called into existence. These artifacts he has used to extend the range and the quality of his senses, to increase or replace the power of his muscles, to store and transmit information to others, his contemporaries or those yet to be born. In all these cases, he himself had been the controlling force behind the artifacts’ actions. He had been the one to wield the hammer, to handle the knife, to look through the microscope, to drive a car, to flip a switch to turn the radio on or off. Responsibility ascription for whatever the machines “did” was straightforward, because the machines could not act by themselves. It was not the machine which acted, it was the controlling human. This not only applied to the simple tools, like hammers and knives, but also to cars and airplanes, remotely controlled planetary exploration vehicles and, until recently, computers.

Any useful, traditional artifact can be seen as a finite state machine: its manufacturer can describe its range of expected actions as a set of transformations that occur as a reaction of the artifact to changes in its environment (“inputs”). The complete set of expected transformations is what comprises the operating manual of the machine. By documenting the reactions of the machine to various valid input patterns, the manufacturer renders the reader of the operating manual capable of effectively controlling the device. This transfer of control is usually seen as the legal and moral basis of the transfer of responsibility for the results of the machine’s operation from the manufacturer to the operator (Fischer & Ravizza, 1998). If the operation of a machine causes damage, we will ascribe the responsibility for it according to who was in control of the machine at that point. If the machine operated correctly and predictably (that is, as documented in the operating manual), then we will deem its operator responsible. But if the operator can show that the machine underwent a significant transformation in its state which was not documented in the operating manual (e.g. by exploding, or failing to stop when brakes were applied) then we would not hold the operator responsible any longer, and precisely for the reason that he did not have sufficient control over the device’s behaviour to be able to assume full responsibility for the consequences of its operation.

With the advent of learning, autonomously acting machines, all this has changed more radically than it appears at first sight. Learning automata, as we will see, are not just another kind of machine, just another step in the evolution of artifacts from the spear to the automobile. Insofar as responsibility ascription is concerned, learning automata can be shown to be machines sui generis, in that the set of expected transformations they may undergo during operation cannot be determined in advance, which translates to the statement that the human operator cannot in principle have sufficient control over the machine to be rightly held responsible for the consequences of its operation.

Learning automata cause a paradigm shift in the creation, operation and evaluation of artifacts. In the progress of programming techniques from classic, imperative programming, to declarative languages, artificial neural networks, genetic algorithms and autonomous agent architectures, the manufacturer/programmer step by step gives up control over the machine’s future behaviour, until he finds her role reduced to that of a creator of an autonomous organism rather than the powerful, controlling coder that she still is in popular imagination and (all too often) in unqualified moral debate.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Imperative Programming: A programming paradigm where the programmer describes the machine’s actions step by step, thus keeping full control over the machine’s behaviour when executing the program.

Genetic Programming: A programming paradigm where the program “evolves” as a string of symbols out of other strings of symbols. The “evolution” process mimics the mechanics of biological evolution, including operations like genetic cross-over, mutations, and selection of the “fittest” program variants.

Epistemic Advantage: In general, the fact that an agent has by design better access to information about the world than another agent. In particular, the fact that some machines are in the privileged position to access data about the environment that humans cannot access (for example due to a lack of suitable sensor equipment, e.g. for gamma radiation or ultraviolet light); or that they are able to process information at a speed which transcends the speed of human thought, thus enabling them to handle situations in real-time, which humans cannot handle without machine aid (e.g. controlling a nuclear power plant, a low-flying fighter airplane, or a subtle orbital manoeuvre in space.)

Autonomous Agents: Programs or programmed devices which act autonomously, without supervision of a human, often in a remote location (e.g. on a remote server or another planet). Since such agents are per definition required to operate without supervision, responsibility attribution for their actions to a human is especially difficult.

Artificial Neural Network: A networked structure, modelled after a biological neural network, and implemented in software on a computer. Artificial neural networks enable computers to handle imperfect (noisy) data sets, which is essential for robust performance in advanced recognition and classification tasks (handwriting recognition, weather prediction, control of complex movements in robotic bodies).

Declarative Programming: A programming paradigm where the programmer does not specify the machine’s behaviour in detail. Instead, she describes the problem to be solved in a kind of predicate logic calculus, leaving the details of the inference process to the machine.

Learning Machine: A machine which modifies its behaviour after deployment, through adaptation to the environment in which it operates. Since its final behaviour at any moment depends not only on the initial programming, but also on the environment’s inputs, it is in principle not predictable in advance.

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Table of Contents
Preface
Rocci Luppicini, Rebecca Adell
Acknowledgment
Rocci Luppicini, Rebecca Adell
Chapter 1
Rocci Luppicini
Over the last 30 years, an amassing body of work has focused on ethical dimensions of technology in a variety of contexts impacting society. This... Sample PDF
The Emerging Field of Technoethics
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Chapter 2
Marc J. de Vries
In this chapter it is argued that a multidisciplinary approach to technoethics is necessary to do justice to the complexity of technology.... Sample PDF
A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Technoethics
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Chapter 3
Daniela Cerqui, Kevin Warwick
Common ethical issues related to technology are formulated in terms of impact. With an anthropological approach, every technological device is... Sample PDF
Technoethics: An Anthropological Approach
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Chapter 4
Michael S. Billinger
Despite the fact that analyses of biological populations within species have become increasing sophisticated in recent years, the language used to... Sample PDF
A Technoethical Approach to the Race Problem in Anthropology
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Chapter 5
Andy Miah
This chapter outlines a technoethics for sport by addressing the relationship between sport ethics and bioethics. The purpose of this chapter is to... Sample PDF
The Ethics of Human Enhancement in Sport
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Chapter 6
Darryl Macer
This chapter examines some of the cultural variation in the ethical factors associated with the use of science and technology. The issues discussed... Sample PDF
Education of Ethics of Science and Technology Across Cultures
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Chapter 7
Seppo Visala
Within the organisational development people’s arguments rise from their personal or group interests, which in turn are based on the systemic... Sample PDF
Planning, Interests, and Argumentation
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Chapter 8
Alireza Bagheri
This chapter elaborates on some of the existing concerns and ethical issues that may arise when biomedical research protocols are proposed or funded... Sample PDF
Ethics Review on Externally- Sponsored Research in Developing Countries
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Chapter 9
Gerrhard Fortwengel
At the beginning of this section the authors provide a definition of biomedical research and an interpretation of the meaning of ethics and social... Sample PDF
Social and Ethical Aspects of Biomedical Research
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Chapter 10
Stefano Fait
In assessing the ethical implications of genomics and biotechnology, it is important to acknowledge that science, technology, and bioethics do not... Sample PDF
Ethical Aspects of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
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Chapter 11
Timothy F. Murphy
Military researchers are working to exploit advances in nanoscale research for military uniforms, medical diagnosis and treatment, enhanced soldier... Sample PDF
Nanoscale Research, Ethics, and the Military
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Chapter 12
Keith Bauer
This chapter reviews key debates about the meaning of telehealth and also considers how new and emerging systems in telehealth work to protect... Sample PDF
Healthcare Ethics in the Information Age
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Chapter 13
Matthew Charlesworth, David Sewry
The development of cybernetics and digital computers prompted the need for a greater exploration of computer ethics. Information ethics, as... Sample PDF
Ethical Theories and Computer Ethics
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Chapter 14
John P. Sullins
This chapter will argue that artificial agents created or synthesized by technologies such as artificial life (ALife), artificial intelligence (AI)... Sample PDF
Artificial Moral Agency in Technoethics
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Chapter 15
Pilar Alejandra Cortés Pascual
‘What positive and negative aspects are perceived of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)?’ and ‘What dilemmas arise regarding these... Sample PDF
Ethical Controversy over Information and Communication Technology
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Chapter 16
Martin Ryder
This chapter provides a brief summary of the technical and social hurdles that define the so-called ‘digital divide’ and it considers the celebrated... Sample PDF
The Cyborg and the Noble Savage: Ethics in the War on Information Poverty
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Chapter 17
Mike Ribble
In todays changing global society, digital technology users need to be prepared to interact and work with users from around the world. Digital... Sample PDF
Becoming a Digital Citizen in a Technological World
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Chapter 18
Deb Gearhart
Are we developing a (global) society where our youth think it is ok to copy and paste whatever they see on the Internet and turn it in for homework;... Sample PDF
Technoethics in Education for the Twenty-First Century
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Chapter 19
May Thorseth
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss important ethical aspects of online communication of global scope. We focus particularly on procedural... Sample PDF
The Ethics of Global Communication Online
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Chapter 20
Cameron Norman, Adrian Guta, Sarah Flicker
New information technologies are creating virtual spaces that allow youth to network and express themselves with unprecedented freedom and... Sample PDF
Engaging Youth in Health Promotion Using Multimedia Technologies: Reflecting on 10 Years of TeenNet Research Ethics and Practice
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Chapter 21
Samantha Mei-che Pang
In Hong Kong, end-of-life practice ideally adheres to values that include respect for the patient’s selfdetermination and an understanding shared by... Sample PDF
Ethical Challenges of Engaging Chinese in End-of-Life Talk
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Chapter 22
Busi Nkala
An estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV worldwide. There were 4.3 million new infections in 2006 with 2.8 million (65%) of these... Sample PDF
Community Education in New HIV Prevention Technologies Research
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Chapter 23
Makoto Nakada, Rafael Capurro
In this article we give an overview of the range and characteristics of intercultural information ethics (IIE) focusing on the public/private debate... Sample PDF
The Public / Private Debate: A Contribution to Intercultural Information Ethics
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Chapter 24
Arsalan Butt
Consumer software piracy is widespread in many parts of the world. P2P based websites have made it easier to access pirated software, which has... Sample PDF
Ethical, Cultural and Socio- Economic Factors of Software Piracy Determinants in a Developing Country: Comparative Analysis of Pakistani and Canadian University Students
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Chapter 25
A. Anderson, S. Allan, A. Petersen, C. Wilkinson
Recent evidence on genetically modified crops, cloning and stem cell research suggests that the news media play a significant role in shaping wider... Sample PDF
Nanoethics: The Role of News Media in Shaping Debate
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Chapter 26
Russell W. Robbins, Kenneth R. Fleischmann, William A. Wallace
This chapter explains and integrates new approaches to teaching computing and information ethics (CIE) and researching CIE education. We first... Sample PDF
Computing and Information Ethics Education Research
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Chapter 27
Jennifer Candor
The allocation of resources for assistive technology does not have to result in a gap between general and special education. This case study... Sample PDF
The Ethical Dilemma over Money in Special Education
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Chapter 28
Pilar Alejandra Cortés Pascual
Educational orientation should be set within a specific socio-historical context, which is nowadays characterized by the Society of Information.... Sample PDF
Educational Technoethics Applied to Career Guidance
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Chapter 29
A.K. Haghi
In this book chapter, the authors summarize their retrospections as an engineering educator for more than 20 years. Consideration is given to a... Sample PDF
The Scholarship of Teaching Engineering: Some Fundamental Issues
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Chapter 30
Antoinette Rouvroy
The aim of the present chapter is to elucidate the paradoxical position of the individual legal subject in the context of human genetics. It first... Sample PDF
Which Rights for Which Subjects? Genetic Confidentiality and Privacy in the Post-Genomic Era
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Chapter 31
Eduardo A. Rueda
This chapter focuses on showing legitimate ways for coping with uncertainties within the informed consent process of predictive genetic testing. It... Sample PDF
Predictive Genetic Testing,Uncertainty, and Informed Consent
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Chapter 32
Soraj Hongladarom
The chapter argues that there is a way to justify privacy without relying on the metaphysical assumption of an independently existing self or... Sample PDF
Privacy, Contingency, Identity, and the Group
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Chapter 33
Y. Ibrahim
This chapter situates the current debates on pornography in the virtual realm and its ethical and legal implications for users and researchers. It... Sample PDF
The Ethics of Gazing: The Politics of Online Pornography
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Chapter 34
Neil C. Rowe
We examine the main ethical issues concerning deception in cyberspace. We first discuss the concept of deception and survey ethical theories... Sample PDF
The Ethics of Deception in Cyberspace
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Chapter 35
Cyber Identity Theft  (pages 542-557)
Lynne D. Roberts
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide substantial benefits to governments, organizations and individuals through providing low... Sample PDF
Cyber Identity Theft
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Chapter 36
A. Pablo Iannone
This chapter asks: What is information overload? At what levels of existence does it occur? Are there any features common to information overload at... Sample PDF
Walking the Information Overload Tightrope
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Chapter 37
Cyber-Victimization  (pages 575-592)
Lynne D. Roberts
Information and communication technologies (ICTs); while providing a range of benefits to individuals, organisations and governments; also provide... Sample PDF
Cyber-Victimization
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Chapter 38
Spyware  (pages 593-608)
Mathias Klang
It is well known that technology can be use as to effectively monitor the behavior of crows and individuals and in many cases this knowledge may b... Sample PDF
Spyware
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Chapter 39
D. Gareth Jones
The advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) marked a watershed in the scientific understanding of the human embryo. This, in turn, led to a... Sample PDF
In Vitro Fertilization and the Embryonic Revolution
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Chapter 40
Joyce Yi- Hui Lee
In this chapter we argue that even though conflict has been explored at an intra-organizational level, its effect and role at an... Sample PDF
Inter-Organizational Conflicts in Virtual Alliances
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Chapter 41
Andreas Matthias
Creation of autonomously acting, learning artifacts has reached a point where humans cannot any more be justly held responsible for the actions of... Sample PDF
From Coder to Creator: Responsibility Issues in Intelligent Artifact Design
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Chapter 42
J. José Cortez
Fundamental democratic principles and values that guide our social relationships have been important concerns in the evolution of this nation’s... Sample PDF
Historical Perspective of Technoethics in Education
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Chapter 43
Heidi L. Schnackenberg
On the cutting edge of current technologies are portable media, where users can download information and take it with them to digest it anytime... Sample PDF
Podcasting and Vodcasting in Education and Training
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Chapter 44
Technoethics in Schools  (pages 680-699)
Darren Pullen
School students are used to digital technology-they blog, create movies for public viewing on the web, create and download music and use instant... Sample PDF
Technoethics in Schools
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Chapter 45
Charles R Crowell
This chapter discusses the ways in which moral psychology can inform information ethics. A “Four Component Model” of moral behavior is described... Sample PDF
Moral Psychology and Information Ethics: Psychological Distance and the Components of Moral Behavior in a Digital World
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Chapter 46
José-Rodrigo Córdoba
Current developments in information systems (IS) evaluation emphasise stakeholder participation in order to ensure adequate and beneficial IS... Sample PDF
A Critical Systems View of Power-Ethics Interactions in Information Systems Evaluation
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Chapter 47
Joan D. McMahon
If you were to survey course syllabi on your campus, you would probably find the standard syllabi to include: • Course title and number •... Sample PDF
Ethical Issues in Web-Based Learning
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Chapter 48
Barbara Paterson
Computer ethicists foresee that as information and communication technology (ICT) increasingly pervades more and more aspects of life, ethical... Sample PDF
We Cannot Eat Data: The Need for Computer Ethics to Address the Cultural and Ecological Impacts of Computing
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Chapter 49
Bernd Carsten Stahl, Simon Rogerson
The ever-changing face of ICT can render its deployment rather problematic in sensitive areas of applications, such as healthcare. The ethical... Sample PDF
Current and Future State of ICT Deployment and Utilization in Healthcare: An Analysis of Cross-Cultural Ethical Issues
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Chapter 50
Sue Conger
With each new technology, new ethical issues emerge that threaten both individual and household privacy. This chapter investigates issues relating... Sample PDF
Emerging Technologies, Emerging Privacy Issues
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Chapter 51
Robert N. Barger
This chapter discusses the ethics of a proof-of-concept demonstration of “parasitic computing.” A “parasite” computer attempts to solve a complex... Sample PDF
Ethics of "Parasitic Computing": Fair Use or Abuse of TCP/IP Over the Internet?
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Chapter 52
Cecilia Andrews
“Counter-terrorism refers to the practices, tactics and strategies that governments, militaries and other groups adopt in order to fight terrorism.”... Sample PDF
Simulating Complexity-Based Ethics for Crucial Decision Making in Counter Terrorism
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Chapter 53
Gundars Kaupins
This article summarizes the legal and ethical implications associated with employee location monitoring. It states that few international laws and... Sample PDF
Legal and Ethical Implications of Employee Location Monitoring
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Chapter 54
Fjodor Ruzic
In today’s dynamic e-business environment where fast time to market is imperative, where information and telecommunications technology is costly and... Sample PDF
New Ethics for E-Business Offshore Outsourcing
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About the Contributors