Mental time-travel, semantic flexibility, and A.I. ethics

AI and Society:1-20 (forthcoming)
Authors
Marcus Arvan
University of Tampa
Abstract
This article argues that existing approaches to programming ethical AI fail to resolve a serious moral-semantic trilemma, generating interpretations of ethical requirements that are either too semantically strict, too semantically flexible, or overly unpredictable. This paper then illustrates the trilemma utilizing a recently proposed ‘general ethical dilemma analyzer,’ _GenEth_. Finally, it uses empirical evidence to argue that human beings resolve the semantic trilemma using general cognitive and motivational processes involving ‘mental time-travel,’ whereby we simulate different possible pasts and futures. I demonstrate how mental time-travel psychology leads us to resolve the semantic trilemma through a six-step process of interpersonal negotiation and renegotiation, and then conclude by showing how comparative advantages in processing power would plausibly cause AI to use similar processes to solve the semantic trilemma more reliably than we do, leading AI to make better moral-semantic choices than humans do by our very own lights.
Keywords artificial intelligence  mental time travel  ethics  applied ethics  semantics  deontology  consequentialism  psychology  virtue  contractualism
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-018-0848-2
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References found in this work BETA

Minds, Brains and Programs.John R. Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.Daniel C. Dennett & Jon Hodge - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.
Consequentialism.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1977 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.

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