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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Can Robots Be Ethical?

Robert Newman
Philosophy Now
Apr/May 2017 Issue 119

Here is an excerpt:

Delegating ethics to robots is unethical not just because robots do binary code, not ethics, but also because no program could ever process the incalculable contingencies, shifting subtleties, and complexities entailed in even the simplest case to be put before a judge and jury. And yet the law is another candidate for outsourcing, to ‘ethical’ robot lawyers. Last year, during a BBC Radio 4 puff-piece on the wonders of robotics, a senior IBM executive explained that while robots can’t do the fiddly manual jobs of gardeners or janitors, they can easily do all that lawyers do, and will soon make human lawyers redundant. However, when IBM Vice President Bob Moffat was himself on trial in the Manhattan Federal Court, accused of the largest hedge fund insider-trading in history, he inexplicably reposed all his hopes in one of those old-time human defence attorneys. A robot lawyer may have saved him from being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy and fraud, but when push came to shove, the IBM VP knew as well as the rest of us that the phrase ‘ethical robots’ is a contradiction in terms.

The article is here.