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Ethics in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Digital information technology has made information readily accessible to practically anyone, anytime and anywhere.

Inevitably, like in preceding technological revolutions, digital information technology’s impact has been so pervasive that we are no longer simply adopting it—doing what we have done before—but adapting to it by changing how we behave.

Redefined relationships between consumers, producers and suppliers, industrialists and laborers, service providers and clients, friends and partners are already creating an upheaval in society that is altering the postindustrial account of moral reasoning.

Successes by AI gaming systems in defeating world chess champion Gary Kasparov, and world go champion Ke Jie underscore the qualitative aspect of AI that proved to be superior than human experts in computing the impact of current decisions on potential future moves.

But the AI system cannot really explain the reasoning—other than to say that it weighed your child’s hair color, height, weight and all other attributes that it has access to in arriving at a decision that seems to work best for other families.

AI has no legal requirement ofstare decisis.AI decisions may truly beartificialto humans as humans tend to have limited sets of direct or indirect experiences while machines may have access to vast troves of data.

As businesses and societies turn rapidly towards AI, whichmayin fact make better decisions with a far longer time horizon than humans, humans with their shorter-range context will be baffled and frustrated, eroding the only currency for a functioning society, namely trust.

This may be borne-out bydata, but it stands in contrast with our explicit values.If data-driven processes rely on output generated by these AI algorithms, they will produce biased decisions, often against ourethicalvalues.

A computer program used by U.S. courts wrongly flagged black defendants who did not recidivate over a two-year period as likely to become repeat offenders at nearly twice the rate as white defendants—45 percent as compared to 23 percent.

for centuries, the shared virtues of mutual trust, harm reduction, fairness and equitability have proved to be essential cornerstones for the survival ofanysystem of reasoning.

How to Build Ethical Artificial Intelligence

The field of artificial intelligence is exploding with projects such as IBM Watson, DeepMind’s AlphaZero, and voice recognition used in virtual assistants including Amazon's Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google's Home Assistant.

Without an account of the appropriate values that people use when they act ethically, it is impossible to align the values of AI systems with those of humans.  3.     To build an AI system that behaves ethically, ideas about values and right and wrong need to be made sufficiently precise that they can be implemented in algorithms, but precision and algorithms are sorely lacking in current ethical deliberations.

1.     I argue that the most plausible ethical theory is one that evaluates actions based on the extent to which they satisfy the vital needs of human beings.  Vital needs are ones that are required for human lives and are distinguished from casual wants such as desiring a fancy car.  Vital needs include not only biological needs such as food, water, and shelter, but also evidence-based psychological needs such as autonomy, relatedness to other people, and competence to achieve personal and social goals.

The ethical deliberation will assess these actions and choose based on moral considerations, not just on personal preferences.  For example, government officials can consider whether or not to make military robots more intelligent and autonomous.  2.     Identify all the people affected by these actions, including future generations as well as people currently alive.

For killer robots, the consequences to be considered include the survival and other needs of all the people potentially affected by intelligent weapons.  4.     Translate the promotion of needs by actions into positive constraints and translate incompatibilities between actions into negative constraints.

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