Saturday, May 24, 2014

Can robots be ethical?

The US army is encouraged to develop robots which can distinguish the good from evil.

According to this article, Tufts and Brown Universities, along with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been received financial aid by the Office of Naval Research to create autonomous robots with a sense of ethics. The researchers of the team consider that moral competence can be resolved into some combination of some algorithm. US Navy funds morality lessons for robots

Although I do not think the matter is not so simple as the researchers say, it is an interesting attempt to clarify the thought of ethics. We have to make a decision in some complicated cases. We seek an absolute answer, even though impossible. Such processes are influenced by not only human instinct, but also logic, emotion, and individual experience. If these variables can be quantitatively identified, it will be not a fantasy to calculate the ethical decision.

Furthermore, this attempt will be beneficial to improve the quality of education. Teaching computers helps us to enhance our own ability of thinking.

On the other hand, it is possible that this research leads to a tragic future. The purpose of the US Navy may be the development of drone attackers. The ability to distinguish the foes from the allies is essential in modern war. If the drone identifies us as an enemy, it will begin a merciless attack. Drones do not hesitate, nor suffer from PTSD. Will the army install human emotion in the drone? Maybe never. We have to be aware of the dangerousness regarding logical judgement.

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