Articles  |    |  October 6, 2020

AI and moral thinking: how can we live well with machines to enhance our moral agency?

Article by Paula Boddington. Published in AI and Ethics.


Humans should never relinquish moral agency to machines, and machines should be ‘aligned’ with human values; but we also need to consider how broad assumptions about our moral capacities and the capabilities of AI, impact on how we think about AI and ethics. Consideration of certain approaches, such as the idea that we might programme our ethics into machines, may rest upon a tacit assumption of our own moral progress. Here I consider how broad assumptions about morality act to suggest certain approaches in addressing the ethics of AI. Work in the ethics of AI would benefit from closer attention not just to what our moral judgements should be, but also to how we deliberate and act morally: the process of moral decision-making. We must guard against any erosion of our moral agency and responsibilities. Attention to the differences between humans and machines, alongside attention to ways in which humans fail ethically, could be useful in spotting specific, if limited, ways that AI assist us to advance our moral agency.