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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Automated ethics

When is it ethical to hand our decisions over to machines? And when is external automation a step too far?

by Tom Chatfield
Aeon Magazine
Originally published March 31, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Automation, in this context, is a force pushing old principles towards breaking point. If I can build a car that will automatically avoid killing a bus full of children, albeit at great risk to its driver’s life, should any driver be given the option of disabling this setting? And why stop there: in a world that we can increasingly automate beyond our reaction times and instinctual reasoning, should we trust ourselves even to conduct an assessment in the first place?

Beyond the philosophical friction, this last question suggests another reason why many people find the trolley disturbing: because its consequentialist resolution presents not only the possibility that an ethically superior action might be calculable via algorithm (not in itself a controversial claim) but also that the right algorithm can itself be an ethically superior entity to us.

The entire article is here.

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