Group Agency and Artificial Intelligence

Philosophy and Technology (4):1-30 (2021)
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Abstract

The aim of this exploratory paper is to review an under-appreciated parallel between group agency and artificial intelligence. As both phenomena involve non-human goal-directed agents that can make a difference to the social world, they raise some similar moral and regulatory challenges, which require us to rethink some of our anthropocentric moral assumptions. Are humans always responsible for those entities’ actions, or could the entities bear responsibility themselves? Could the entities engage in normative reasoning? Could they even have rights and a moral status? I will tentatively defend the (increasingly widely held) view that, under certain conditions, artificial intelligent systems, like corporate entities, might qualify as responsible moral agents and as holders of limited rights and legal personhood. I will further suggest that regulators should permit the use of autonomous artificial systems in high-stakes settings only if they are engineered to function as moral (not just intentional) agents and/or there is some liability-transfer arrangement in place. I will finally raise the possibility that if artificial systems ever became phenomenally conscious, there might be a case for extending a stronger moral status to them, but argue that, as of now, this remains very hypothetical.

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Author's Profile

Christian List
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

Tragic Choices and the Virtue of Techno-Responsibility Gaps.John Danaher - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (2):1-26.
Group Responsibility.Christian List - forthcoming - In Dana Nelkin & Derk Pereboom (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Moral Responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Can we Bridge AI’s responsibility gap at Will?Maximilian Kiener - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (4):575-593.

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