Motivations and Risks of Machine Ethics, Proceedings of the IEEE (2019)
This paper surveys reasons for and against pursuing the field of machine ethics, understood as research aiming to build “ethical machines.” We clarify the nature of this goal, why it is worth pursuing, and the risks involved in its pursuit. First, we survey and clarify some of the philosophical issues surrounding the concept of an “ethical machine” and the aims of machine ethics. Second, we argue that while there are good prima facie reasons for pursuing machine ethics, including the potential to improve the ethical alignment of both humans and machines, there are also potential risks that must be considered. Third, we survey these potential risks and point to where research should be devoted to clarifying and managing potential risks. We conclude by making some recommendations about the questions that future work could address.