The Emergence of Artificial Autonomy: A View from the Foothills of a Challenging Climb

The Emergence of Artificial Autonomy: A View from the Foothills of a Challenging Climb

Fernando da Costa Cardoso (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal) and Luís Moniz Pereira (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8592-5.ch004


In this chapter we set forth a case study of the integration of philosophy and computer science using artificial agents, beings ruled by abductive logic and emergent behavior. Our first step in this chapter is to highlight different models that we developed of such agents (a set of them related with evolutionary game theory and one model of a narrative storyteller robot). As we indicate, each model exemplifies different aspects of the bottom of the hill of autonomy as an emergent property of artificial systems specified through three aspects (“Self control”, “Adaptivity to the environment” and “Response to environment”). In summary, our conception is that autonomy, when presented as an emergent characteristic, could fill the important place given it by elaborations in philosophical ethics and one that leads us to a clearer comprehension of where to direct our efforts in the field of artificial agents. We conclude this chapter with the notion that this reevaluation of autonomy is necessary for the enhanced comprehension of human morality.
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1. Setting The Stage

Philosophers, particularly those in the rationalist tradition, have pictured autonomy as affording an important role not just in the practice of morality but also in the distinction of agents that are moral beings from others which are not. This tradition of so establishing autonomy or self-governance at the center of Ethics has a history that can be characterized globally and episodically. Globally, following Schneewind (1998), we may take it as a reaction against “the conception of morality as obedience” to some divine order. It is an internalization. Episodically, we may highlight the establishment of the Kantian formulation crowning autonomy as the central concept essential for morality, and thus Ethics, in the first place.

This crowning follows a natural development inside the modern moral tradition binding Ethics with human psychology. In this vein, when Kant established autonomy as the foundation of human dignity, he established an association between these two fields, something that could be verified in the following supportive statement: “Autonomy is thus the ground of the dignity of the human and of every rational nature” (Kant, 2002, AK 4:436). Autonomy reveals the particular constitution of our souls. In this sense modern Ethics, and with it the question of how we should live, merges a conception of what we should do with a conception of how our minds operate optimally.

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