Patiency Is Not a Virtue: The Design of Intelligent Systems and Systems of Ethics

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14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The question of whether AI systems such as robots can or should be afforded moral agency or patiency is not one amenable either to discovery or simple reasoning, because we as societies constantly reconstruct our artefacts, including our ethical systems. Consequently, the place of AI systems in society is a matter of normative, not descriptive ethics. Here I start from a functionalist assumption, that ethics is the set of behaviour that maintains a society. This assumption allows me to exploit the theoretical biology of sociality and autonomy to explain our moral intuitions. From this grounding I extend to consider possible ethics for maintaining either human- or of artefact-centred societies. I conclude that while constructing AI systems as either moral agents or patients is possible, neither is desirable. In particular, I argue that we are unlikely to construct a coherent ethics in which it it is ethical to afford AI moral subjectivity. We are therefore obliged not to build AI we are obliged to.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Volume20
Issue number1
Early online date16 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Ethics
  • Moral agency
  • Moral patiency
  • Strong AI
  • Systems artificial intelligence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences

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