Artificial Moral Responsibility: How We Can and Cannot Hold Machines Responsible

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 30 (3):435-447 (2021)
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Abstract

Our ability to locate moral responsibility is often thought to be a necessary condition for conducting morally permissible medical practice, engaging in a just war, and other high-stakes endeavors. Yet, with increasing reliance upon artificially intelligent systems, we may be facing a wideningresponsibility gap, which, some argue, cannot be bridged by traditional concepts of responsibility. How then, if at all, can we make use of crucial emerging technologies? According to Colin Allen and Wendell Wallach, the advent of so-called ‘artificial moral agents’ (AMAs) is inevitable. Still, this notion may seem to push back the problem, leaving those who have an interest in developing autonomous technology with a dilemma. We may need to scale-back our efforts at deploying AMAs (or at least maintain human oversight); otherwise, we must rapidly and drastically update our moral and legal norms in a way that ensures responsibility for potentially avoidable harms. This paper invokes contemporary accounts of responsibility in order to show how artificially intelligent systems might be held responsible. Although many theorists are concerned enough to develop artificial conceptions ofagencyor to exploit our present inability to regulate valuable innovations, the proposal here highlights the importance of—and outlines a plausible foundation for—a workable notion ofartificial moral responsibility.

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Daniel Tigard
University of San Diego

References found in this work

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Implicit Bias and Moral Responsibility: Probing the Data.Neil Levy - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):3-26.
On the morality of artificial agents.Luciano Floridi & J. W. Sanders - 2004 - Minds and Machines 14 (3):349-379.
The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation.John Danaher - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (3):245-268.

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