In search of the moral status of AI: why sentience is a strong argument

AI and Society 1:1-12 (2021)
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Abstract

Is it OK to lie to Siri? Is it bad to mistreat a robot for our own pleasure? Under what condition should we grant a moral status to an artificial intelligence system? This paper looks at different arguments for granting moral status to an AI system: the idea of indirect duties, the relational argument, the argument from intelligence, the arguments from life and information, and the argument from sentience. In each but the last case, we find unresolved issues with the particular argument, which leads us to move to a different one. We leave the idea of indirect duties aside since these duties do not imply considering an AI system for its own sake. The paper rejects the relational argument and the argument from intelligence. The argument from life may lead us to grant a moral status to an AI system, but only in a weak sense. Sentience, by contrast, is a strong argument for the moral status of an AI system—based, among other things, on the Aristotelian principle of equality: that same cases should be treated in the same way. The paper points out, however, that no AI system is sentient given the current level of technological development.

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Author Profiles

Martin Gibert
Université de Montréal
Dominic Martin
Université du Québec à Montréal

References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
Nicomachean ethics.H. Aristotle & Rackham - 1998 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Michael Pakaluk.
Welcoming Robots into the Moral Circle: A Defence of Ethical Behaviourism.John Danaher - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2023-2049.

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