News  |  ,   |  June 15, 1986

Artificial Intelligence and Ethics: An Exercise in the Moral Imagination

News article by Michael R. LaChat. Published in AI Magazine.


The possibility of constructing a personal AI raises many ethical and religious questions that have been dealt with seriously only by imaginative works of fiction; they have largely been ignored by technical experts and by philosophical and theological ethicists. Arguing that a personal AI is possible in principle, and that its accomplishment could be adjudicated by the Turing Test, the article suggests some of the moral issues involved in AI experimentation by comparing them to issues in medical experimentation. Finally, the article asks questions about the capacities and possibilities of such an artifact for making moral decisions. It is suggested that much a priori ethical thinking is necessary and that that such a project cannot only stimulate our moral imaginations, but can also tell us much about our moral thinking and pedagogy, whether or not it is ever accomplished in fact.