Just an artifact: why machines are perceived as moral agents

Joanna J Bryson, Philip P Kime

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

34 Citations (SciVal)


How obliged can we be to AI, and how much danger does it pose us? A surprising proportion of our society holds exaggerated fears or hopes for AI, such as the fear of robot world conquest, or the hope that AI will indefinitely perpetuate our cul- ture. These misapprehensions are symptomatic of a larger problem—a confusion about the nature and origins of ethics and its role in society. While AI technologies do pose promises and threats, these are not qualitatively different from those posed by other artifacts of our culture which are largely ignored: from factories to advertising, weapons to political systems. Ethical systems are based on notions of identity, and the exaggerated hopes and fears of AI derive from our cultures having not yet accommodated the fact that language and reasoning are no longer uniquely human. The experience of AI may improve our ethical intuitions and self-understanding, potentially helping our societies make better-informed decisions on serious ethical dilemmas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Twenty-Second International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Subtitle of host publicationBarcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 16–22 July 2011
EditorsToby Walsh
Place of PublicationMenlo Park, CA, USA
PublisherAAAI Press
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-57735-516-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-57735-514-4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence - Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Duration: 16 Jul 201122 Jul 2011


Conference22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Abbreviated titleIJCAI-11
CityBarcelona, Catalonia


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