AIRSE: The Ethics of Artificially Intelligent Robots and Systems

AIRSE: The Ethics of Artificially Intelligent Robots and Systems

Bogdan Popoveniuc (Stefan cel Mare University of Suceava, Romania)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6310-5.ch015


The chapter makes a systematic review of the literature on the ethics of artificially intelligent robots (AIRSE) and proposes a classification of ethical discourses related with robots and AI in four categories: weak, moderate, strong, and ultimate. The main arguments and specific problems underlying each of these perspectives on AIRSE, as well as the resulting principles are discussed. The risks, issues, and challenges related with the possibility of technological singularity are also presented in this chapter.
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In the public discourse, the real issues related with artificial intelligent robots and systems Ethics (AIRSE) are frequently spoiled by media because of their sensational feature. The research groups involved in AI design, companies and even state governments use high-sounding discourse for marketing, financial and ideological purposes stressing also on the sensational aspects of technological progress. This is the case of pseudo-android chat-bot Sophia’s publicity stunt granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, a year before the same officials would lift the women driving ban. The public representations on future AI is infused with “personification thinking”, when due to the high advance of mimicking the human conduct and appearance these softwares and robots are endowed with human agency. The process of learning default, or even innovating original responses in the interaction with humans is an advanced intellectual task, but far away from the minimal level of a conscious (aware) state. We can read impressive announces attributed to those involved in design and building all sorts of communication robots (care or companion AI systems): “Robots are developing feeling” or “AI systems are beginning to acquire emotions”, where simply they learn to recognize some expression of human emotions and to express particular responses. This attitude is backed among scholars by drawback of behaviorist thinking which promotes the “objective proof” of Turing or Chinese Room Test as undeniable evidence for critical point when robots will achieve the human level.

There are also other conceptual flaws in the relevant literature, where many texts on the ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems and robots, make no or minimal difference between different types and level of artificial intelligence (AI): automatic machines, intelligent autonomous machines, chat-bots, robots, androids, narrow AI, hard or AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). Moreover, a significant percent of works on AI’s ethics stresses only to its pedagogical and normative function and neglect its applied, prospective, proactive and formative aspects. They adopt an over-optimistic negligent tone and depict a future world of social harmony and wellbeing shared by human and robots. “Roboethics is an applied ethics whose objective is to develop scientific//hnical tools that can be shared by different social groups and beliefs. These tools aim to promote and encourage the development of Robotics for the advancement of human society and individuals, and to help preventing its misuse against humankind” (Veruggio, 2002).

However the exponential advance and development of AI systems and increasing dependability of all social and economic activities on intelligent robots raise fresh new challenges for ethical thinking. The public and expert perspectives on ethics of AI autonomous systems, AI robots (AIRS in a single word) in four main classes: weak, moderate, strong and ultimate AIRS Ethics (AIRSE).

Weak AIRSE perspective on ethical and moral implication of AI deployment is based on the fundamental principle that AIRS and robots are nothing but machines. To this group belongs those with few or completely luck of interested in ethics because of the deep conviction that in this field we are dealing with technical and engineering issues solely and all other questions related with their usage, social effects, costs etc., are in the responsibility of technical engineers, political, economic, entertainment industry, educational, military, religious, health decision makers and users as any other social and economic aspect of human life. The robots, intelligent or not, are made with different utilities and not put any special problems for human society. The idea of technology’s neutrality and the solely human responsibility underlays the reasoning that technology is designed to be beneficial, but can be twisted to become harmful through use and abused. This perspective is overtly embedded in Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council’ (EPSRC) Principles of Robotics set for the first time in a systematic manner in 2010 and published online in 2011:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Strong AIRSE: Perspective on ethical and moral aspects of AI and robots development based on the principle that AIRS are moral agents.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): A digital computer or a computer-controlled robot able behave like a human, to computationally think like a human, to accomplish tasks that only humans could perform until now.

Moderate AIRSE: Perspective on ethical and moral aspects of AI and robots development based on the principle that have an important ethical dimensions, but mostly due to their influence on human lives.

Technological Singularity: In the narrow sense, the moment in the future when the development of AI will surpass human intelligence. In the general sense, the moment when the evolutionary techno-human cybernetic system, merging the civilization, technology, economy, the social, juridical, and political structures (Metaman), will replaces the evolutionary biologic system (Gaia).

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): The artificial intelligence that equals human cognition in all tasks. (It is also called strong AI or full AI.)

Ultimate AIRSE: Perspective on ethical and moral aspects of AI and robots development based on the principle that realization of AGI equals with the advancement of a new sapient evolved species. It largely overlaps with trans-humanist discourse.

Ethics of Artificial Intelligent Robots (AIRSE): A domain of ethics of technology concerned with the issues related with the development of AI: norms and moral problems related with design, manufacture and utilization, the effects on humans, the status of AI, prospective and proactive actions, etc.

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