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The Robotic Disruption of Morality

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We increasingly collaborate and interact with robots and AIs. We use them to perform tasks and we also find that our choices and opportunities are affected by their operations. The increasing prevalence of such interactions has led to an explosion of interest in AI ethics and robo-ethics. Squads of academics, technologists and policy-makers are frantically asking how we should use ethical principles to guide and constrain the operation of robots and AIs. The prevailing belief amongst most of these actors is that long-standing human moral beliefs and practices should constrain the operation of these new technologies.There is, however, another kind of inquiry we can conduct into the impact of robotics and AI on morality. Instead of asking how our moral beliefs and practices should constrain the operation of the technology we can ask whether and to what extent the technology is changing our moral beliefs and practices. Admittedly, there are plenty of people interested in asking this question, but it seems to me to be the road that is currently less travelled. That’s why, in the remainder of this article, I want share some thoughts that contribute to this second inquiry.To be more precise, I want to outline one naturalistic theory of how human morality came into being (Michael Tomasello’s theory). I then want to consider how this could be disrupted or undermined by the growing prevalence of robotics and AI. I’m trying to be tentative not dogmatic. I’m very interested in feedback. If you think this is an interesting line of inquiry, and have thoughts on how it could be developed further, please leave a comment at the end.1. Tomasello’s Theory of Human MoralityI’ll start by setting out Tomasello’s theory. The theory comes from the book The Natural History of Human Morality. It is an attempt to explain how human morality came into being over the course of our evolutionary and cultural history. The theory is interesting and probably represents the best current attempt to. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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