Perspectives about artificial moral agents

Andreia Martinho, Adam Poulsen, Maarten Kroesen, Caspar Chorus

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The pursuit of AMAs is complicated. Disputes about the development, design, moral agency, and future projections for these systems have been reported in the literature. This empirical study explores these controversial matters by surveying (AI) Ethics scholars with the aim of establishing a more coherent and informed debate. Using Q-methodology, we show the wide breadth of viewpoints and approaches to artificial morality. Five main perspectives about AMAs emerged from our data and were subsequently interpreted and discussed: (i) Machine Ethics: The Way Forward; (ii) Ethical Verification: Safe and Sufficient; (iii) Morally Uncertain Machines: Human Values to Avoid Moral Dystopia; (iv) Human Exceptionalism: Machines Cannot Moralize; and (v) Machine Objectivism: Machines as Superior Moral Agents. A potential source of these differing perspectives is the failure of Machine Ethics to be widely observed or explored as an applied ethic and more than a futuristic end. Our study helps improve the foundations for an informed debate about AMAs, where contrasting views and agreements are disclosed and appreciated. Such debate is crucial to realize an interdisciplinary approach to artificial morality, which allows us to gain insights into morality while also engaging practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-490
Number of pages14
JournalAI and Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2021


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