Bodies And Minds

Part of what it is to be ethically precious, to be an individual, is to have a face and a body in which individuality is inscribed. 

Consider a thought experiment: try to imagine a circumstance where you feel as though you murdered a machine, in switching off an AI, will you feel the same way as you might if you switched off the life support for a human being? 

Our moral personality through which our ethical wisdom and knowledge is expressed is an embodied personality. For example, we judge people through their mannerism and tone of voice which plays an important role in determining whether they are serious or not.

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Philosopher's Zone - The problem with "moral machines"

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Once we start using this argument, we lose contact with the idea of machines. What is it for something to be a machine? If a machine has a childhood, life history, and has grown and is mortal, would you be able to call them machines?

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If someone is facing a moral dilemma and they just lookup for an answer from AI or even a human, then they're not taking that decision seriously. The idea that we could build moral machines presupposes that the nature of ethics is such that we could outsource our decision to machines or to other people. But when we confront decisions, they're ours to make and we can't hand these over. We can't escape our responsibility for the decisions by employing an expert. We're who we're because of the ethical decisions we've made in the past.

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What people are looking for from moral advice-

  1. Sometimes for empirical information
  2. Sometimes for theory and knowledge
  3. Sometimes for wisdom - They're looking for someone who knows what they're going through and has experienced this in the past. They'll enable us to see meanings in a decision that we weren't aware of.  

But no matter how much advice one seeks, ultimately we have to make those for ourselves and we can't escape our responsibility by taking advice.

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Some solutions put forward are-

  • Specifying rules to determine correct decisions taken by AI systems.
  • Maintaining a degree of human input which would kick in when an ethical decision had to be made.

However, the problem with specifying what a machine should do is that AI encounters unexpected and unpredictable situations a lot of times that it's too hard to specify what an AI should do in advance. The problem with the second solution is that some decisions need to be made in a split second and in some circumstances it won't possible to get human input.

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  1. Without bodies and life histories they won't be able to establish that they possess wisdom or they are compassionate or that they understand ethical dilemmas because those concepts all require these human interactions with each other where the tone of voice and histories matter.
  2. The data set or the book knowledge from which the machine will learn ethics is not useful at all because what you would want the machine to be learning from is the individual speaker's moral authority which an AI wouldn't find in the data sets.

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The person who has wisdom from his history and experiences should have the moral authority to give advice. These are the people we should listen to.

 We like to pretend that we could teach people to be ethical. But you can't live an ethical life just by getting academic knowledge on ethics. The nature of the ethical is to become ethical yourself.

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