Incorporating Ethics into Artificial Intelligence

The Journal of Ethics, 2017

Posted: 9 Mar 2017 Last revised: 22 Mar 2017

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: March 7, 2017

Abstract

This article reviews the reasons scholars hold that driverless cars and many other AI equipped machines must be able to make ethical decisions, and the difficulties this approach faces. It then shows that cars have no moral agency, and that the term “autonomous”, commonly applied to these machines, is misleading, and leads to invalid conclusions about the ways these machines can be kept ethical. The article’s most important claim is that a significant part of the challenge posed by AI-equipped machines can be addressed by the kind of ethical choices made by human beings for millennia. Ergo, there is little need to teach machines ethics even if this could be done in the first place. Finally, the article points out that it is a grievous error to draw on extreme outlier scenarios — such as the Trolley narratives — as a basis for conceptualizing the ethical issues at hand.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Incorporating Ethics into Artificial Intelligence (March 7, 2017). The Journal of Ethics, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928908

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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