Artificial Intelligence, Science, Technology
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Machine Cognition and AI Ethics Percolate at AAAI 2015

machine cognition--robot-brain-chip(February 4, 2015, by Melanie Swan)

The AAAI’s Twenty-Ninth Conference on Artificial Intelligence was held January 25–30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Machine cognition was an important focal area covered in two workshops on AI and Ethics, and Beyond the Turing Test, and in a special track on Cognitive Systems.

Some of the most interesting emergent themes are discussed in this article.

Computational Ethics Systems

One main research activity in machine ethics is developing computational ethics systems. The status is that there are several such systems; however, a paucity of overall standards bodies, general ethics modules, and an articulation of universal principles that might be included like human dignity, informed consent, privacy, and benefit-harm analysis.

Some standards bodies that are starting to address these ideas include the IEEE’ s Technical Committee on Robot Ethics and European committees involved in RoboLaw and Roboethics.

One required feature of computational ethics systems could be the ability to flexibly apply different systems of ethics to more accurately reflect the ways that human intelligent agents approach real-life situations. For example, it is known from early programming efforts that simple models like Bentham and Mill’s utilitarianism are not robust enough ethics models. They do not incorporate comprehensive human notions of justice that extend beyond the immediate situation in decision-making.

What is helpful is that machine systems on their own have evolved more expansive models than utilitarianism such as a prima facie duty approach. In the prima facie duty approach, there is a more complex conceptualization of intuitive duties, reputation, and the goal of increasing benefit and decreasing harm in the world. This is more analogous to real-life situations where there are multiple ethical obligations competing to determine the right action. GenEth is a machine ethics sandbox that is available to explore these kinds of systems for Mac OS, with details discussed in this conference paper.

For the rest of this article…



I made my bones as an advertising copywriter. My TV, radio and print ads have amused millions of people and helped sell tons of cleaning products, coffee, macadamia nuts and other goodies. But I prefer that other kind of fiction: short stories and novels. My first published novel, Mindclone, is a near-future look at the amusing and serious consequences of brain-uploading. It’s garnered mostly five star reviews. The sequel is percolating in my brain even now. Stay tuned.

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