An Ethical Framework for Interconnected and Self-Organizing Moral Machines

An Ethical Framework for Interconnected and Self-Organizing Moral Machines

Ben van Lier (Centric Gouda, The Netherlands & Steinbeis University Berlin, Germany)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5094-5.ch001


Technology is responsible for major systemic changes within the global financial sector. This sector has already developed into a comprehensive network of mutually connected people and computers. Algorithms play a crucial role within this network. An algorithm is in essence merely a set of instructions developed by one or more people with the intention of having these instructions performed by a machine such as a computer in order to realize an ideal result. As part of a development in which we as human beings have ever higher expectations of algorithms and these algorithms become more autonomous in their actions, we cannot avoid including possibilities in these algorithms that enable ethical or moral considerations. To develop this ethical or moral consideration, we need a kind of ethical framework that can be used for constructing these algorithms. With the development of such a framework we can start to think about what we as human beings consider to be a moral action executed by algorithms that support actions and decisions of interconnected and self-organizing machines. This chapter explores an ethical framework for interconnected and self-organizing moral machines.
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The theme of this essay is the major systemic changes confronted by the global financial sector in general and particularly in the trade in financial products. Within this essay I will focus specifically on the dominant role played by technology and technological applications within the context of these changes. Algorithms play an essential and valuable role within the financial sector. Take, for example, the visualization of all sorts of information and being able to exchange and share this information between the parties involved, irrespective of their time and location. Algorithms have become increasingly autonomous during the past decade, their artificial intelligence has increased and this artificial intelligence has allowed them to act more independently and make complicated decisions at speeds that exceed human powers of observation. Whether we like it or not, these algorithms currently dominate the financial markets and the large majority of the global financial transactions are performed without any human interference. The development of systems that are ever more interconnected with networks in which algorithms act autonomously and influence the global trade in financial products raises new questions concerning, for example, the need for an 'ethical framework'. This framework could enable us to further consider if and how these machines and their algorithms could be taught a form of morality as part of their development. In the second part of this essay, I will deal specifically with the question of whether and how concepts such as ethics and morality could be related to technology and whether and how machines and algorithms that act increasingly autonomously could be taught a form or ethics and morality.

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