The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
I am pleased to announce that our edited volume Robot Ethics: The Social and Ethical Implications of Robotics has now been released by MIT Press.
The preface and table of contents are below (incl. link to Ryan Calo's chapter on privacy):
“Nothing is stranger to man but his own image.”
– Karel Čapek in Rossum’s Universal Robots (1921)
Here's a preview of my forthcoming paper on robot ethics (with co-authors Keith Abney and George Bekey) in Artificial Intelligence journal, one of the best in its field.
"Patrick Lin, the director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at California Polytechnic State University, says we humans are a fickle lot, and that we don’t always know what we want or what we can live with.
“What we intellectually believe is true and what we in fact do may be two very different things,” he told Gizmodo. “Humans are often selfish even as they profess altruism. Car manufacturers, then, might not fully appreciate this human paradox as they offer up AI and robots to replace us behind the wheel.”"
“With Go or chess or Space Invaders, the goal is to win, and we know what winning looks like,” says Lin. “But in ethical decision-making, there is no clear goal. That’s the whole trick. Is the goal to save as many lives as possible? Is the goal to not have the responsibility for killing? There is a conflict in the first principles.”
"The article then paraphrases philosophy professor Patrick Lin, whose work at Cal Poly focuses in part on the ethics of driverless cars. According to Lin, "On the one hand, [the trolley problem] is a great entry point and teaching tool for engineers with no background in ethics. On the other hand, its prevalence, whimsical tone, and iconic status can shield you from considering a wider range of dilemmas and ethical considerations.""
"“We can't cherry-pick the costs or savings to focus on,” says Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at California Polytechnic State University. Instead, he says,to fairly examine the ethics involved, we should consider impacts both on the individual and society level. “Yes, healthier people may mean lower health costs and more productivity, but that's a partial picture at best.
"These ethical programming decisions will be made as a matter of company policy, and buyers may find themselves forced to buy into the brand whose ethics most closely align with their own. "If you had to choose between a car that would always save as many lives as possible in an accident, or one that would always save you at all costs, which would you buy?" asks Lin."
"Gerdes has been working with a philosophy professor, Patrick Lin, to make ethical thinking a key part of his team’s design process. Lin, who teaches at Cal Poly, spent a year working in Gerdes’s lab and has given talks to Google, Tesla, and others about the ethics of automating cars. The trolley problem is usually one of the first examples he uses to show that not all questions can be solved simply through developing more sophisticated engineering.
“Even if it’s a rare problem, autonomous car manufacturers still need to specify some action [in the event of an unavoidable crash], and the wrong one could lead to massive lawsuits and alarmist headlines,” says Patrick Lin, director of the ethics and emerging sciences group at California Polytechnic State University.
"“This is one of the most profoundly serious decisions we can make. Program a machine that can foreseeably lead to someone’s death,” Lin said. “When we make programming decisions, we expect those to be as right as we can be.”
What right looks like may differ from company to company, but according to Lin, automakers have a duty to show that they have wrestled with these complex questions — and publicly reveal the answers they reach.
"“For the trucking industry, the risk is magnified: we’re no longer talking about two-tonne vehicles of steel and glass, but up to 40-tonne vehicles that may be carrying hazardous freight. So it becomes even more important that manufacturers get crash-optimization right with trucks, given the risk of much more serious—and high profile—harm,” said Patrick Lin, director of the ethics and emerging sciences group and associate philosophy professor at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis, California.
"The idea that technology is neutral or amoral is a myth that needs to be dispelled. The designer can imbue ethics into the creation, even if the artifact has no moral agency itself. This feature may be too subtle to notice in most cases, but some technologies are born from evil and don't have redeeming uses, e.g., gas chambers and any device here. And even without that point (whether technology can be intrinsically good or bad), everyone agrees that most technologies can have both good and bad uses.
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