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Machine Ethics

Cooperative Intelligence

When Soichiro Honda established the Honda Technical Research Institute and later the Honda Motor Co. Ltd. after the 2nd world war, he was well aware of the responsibility of engineers and entrepreneurs for society. Since these early days Honda’s philosophy is inseparable from the principle to be a company that “people and society want to exist”. Researching new, possibly disruptive technologies for intelligent and more and more autonomous systems, at HRI we feel that it is our responsibility to consider how artificial intelligence might affect each one of us in our future lifes.

Cooperative Intelligence will maintain and enhance individual capabilities and create a new hybrid community of people and machines. If we create systems that are able to evolve and learn, their future behavior cannot be predicted anymore by the human designer. A freedom of behavioural choice that can be seen as a prerequisite for artificial intelligence needs an ethical framework that ensures that the new hybrid society will uphold basic human values. Researching the individual and social implications of the hybrid society has to be part of our activities. In order to establish machine ethics we need to share values for which we need to share experience instead of merely interacting with machines. Together with researchers from universities we want to contribute to the necessary public dialogue about the ethical considerations of these new technologies.

Machine Ethics

According to Velasquez ethics is related to the definition of „right“ or „wrong“ in a behavioral context:
“Ethics is two things. First, ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards.”
M. Velasquez, C. Andre, T. Shanks and M. J. Meyer, “What is ethics?”, Issues in ethics, vol. 1, no. 1, 1987.

Instead of ethics being the result of socially acceptable behaviour, social acceptance should be based on ethics.
“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”
Albert Camus

In machine ethics, we aim at ensuring that systems with artificial intelligence will refrain from unethical behaviour. With increasing autonomy and the resulting freedom of the machine‘s decision, we have to first mandate ethical behaviour and second we have to share the needs for ethical behaviour with the artificial intelligence.  Ethics has to be internalised by the machine. This will be a prerequisite for the establishment of confidence and trust between men and cooperative intelligence.