Y. Bingman, A. Waytz, R Alterovitz, and K. Gray
Trends in Cognitive Science
As robots become more autonomous, people will see them as more responsible for wrongdoing. Moral psychology suggests that judgments of robot responsibility will hinge on perceived situational awareness, intentionality, and free will—plus anthropomorphism and the robot’s capacity for harm. We also consider questions of robot rights and moral decision-making.
Here is an excerpt:
Philosophy, law, and modern cognitive science all reveal that judgments of human moral responsibility hinge on autonomy. This explains why children, who seem to have less autonomy than adults, are held less responsible for wrongdoing. Autonomy is also likely crucial in judgments of robot moral responsibility. The reason people ponder and debate the ethical implications of drones and self-driving cars (but not tractors or blenders) is because these machines can act autonomously.
Admittedly, today’s robots have limited autonomy, but it is an expressed goal of roboticists to develop fully autonomous robots—machine systems that can act without human input. As robots become more autonomous their potential for moral responsibility will only grow. Even as roboticists create robots with more “objective” autonomy, we note that “subjective” autonomy may be more important: work in cognitive science suggest that autonomy and moral responsibility are more matters of perception than objective truths.
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