Originally published June 25, 2019
Here is an excerpt:
Morality, the researchers found, isn’t like any other decision space. People were averse to machines having the power to choose what to do in life and death situations—specifically in driving, legal, medical, and military contexts. This hinged on their perception of machine minds as incomplete, or lacking in agency (the capacity to reason, plan, and communicate effectively) and subjective experience (the possession of a human-like consciousness, with the ability to empathize and to feel pain and other emotions).
For example, when the researchers presented subjects with hypothetical medical and military situations—where a human or machine would decide on a surgery as well as a missile strike, and the surgery and strike succeeded—subjects still found the machine’s decision less permissible, due to its lack of agency and subjective experience relative to the human. Not having the appropriate sort of mind, it seems, disqualifies machines, in the judgement of these subjects, from making moral decisions even if they are the same decisions that a human made. Having a machine sound human, with an emotional and expressive voice, and claim to experience emotion, doesn’t help—people found a compassionate-sounding machine just as unqualified for moral choice as one that spoke robotically.
Only in certain circumstances would a machine’s moral choice trump a human’s. People preferred an expert machine’s decision over an average doctor’s, for instance, but just barely. Bigman and Gray also found that some people are willing to have machines support human moral decision-making as advisors. A substantial portion of subjects, 32 percent, were even against that, though, “demonstrating the tenacious aversion to machine moral decision-making,” the researchers wrote. The results “suggest that reducing the aversion to machine moral decision-making is not easy, and depends upon making very salient the expertise of machines and the overriding authority of humans—and even then, it still lingers.”
The info is here.