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Do we need
1. Pragmatic definition of intelligence: an intelligent
system is a system with the ability to act
appropriately (or make an appropriate choice or
decision) in an uncertain environment.
An appropriate action (or choice) is that which
maximizes the probability of successfully achieving
the mission goals (or the purpose of the system)
2. Intelligence need not be at the human level

Robot Morality is a relatively new
research area which is becoming
very popular because of military
and assistive robotics.
Robots are becoming
technically extremely

The emerging robot is a
machine with sensors,
processors, and effectors able
to perceive the environment,
have situational awareness,
make appropriate decisions,
and act upon the environment
Various sensors: active and
passive optical and ladar
vision, acoustic, ultrasonic,
RF, microwave, touch, etc.
Various effectors: propellers,
wheels, tracks, legs, hybrids

These robots live in human
environment and can harm humans
Military unmanned vehicles are robots
Space, air, ground, water
Ethical concerns: Robot behavior
How do we want our intelligent systems to behave?

How can we ensure they do so?

Asimovs Three Laws of Robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction,
allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except
where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such
protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Ethical concerns: Human behavior
1. Is it morally justified to create intelligent systems with these
As a secondary question, would it be possible to do so?

2. Should intelligent systems have free will? Can we prevent them
from having free will??

3. Will intelligent systems have consciousness? (Strong AI)
If they do, will it drive them insane to be constrained by artificial ethics
placed on them by humans?

4. If intelligent systems develop their own ethics and morality, will
we like what they come up with?

Department of Defense (DOD) PATH
Many taxonomies have been used for robotic air, ground, and water vehicles:
based on size, endurance, mission, user, C3 link, propulsion, mobility, altitude,
level of autonomy, etc., etc.
All autonomous future military robots will need morality,
household and assistive robots as well
Various control system
Various command, control, and
communications systems:
fiber optic,
Various human/machine
virtual reality
Various theories of intelligence
and autonomy;

Can we build morality without
The Tokyo University of Science: Saya

Morality for non-military robots that deal
directly with humans.
Robots that look human
"Robots that look human tend to be a big hit
with young children and the elderly,"
Hiroshi Kobayashi, Tokyo University of Science
professor and Saya's developer, said yesterday.

"Children even start crying when they are

Human-Robot Interaction with
human-like humanoid robots
"Simply turning our grandparents over to
teams of robots abrogates our society's
responsibility to each other, and encourages a
loss of touch with reality for this already
mentally and physically challenged
Kobayashi said.
Can robots replace humans?
Noel Sharkey, robotics expert and professor at
the University of Sheffield, believes robots can
serve as an educational aid in inspiring
interest in science, but they can't replace
Robot to help people?
Kobayashi says Saya is just meant to help
people and warns against getting hopes up
too high for its possibilities.
"The robot has no intelligence. It has no
ability to learn. It has no identity," he said. "It
is just a tool.


MechaDroyd Typ C3
Business Design, Japan

What kind of morality
we expect from:
- Robot for disabled?
- Receptionist robot?
- Robot housemaide?
- Robot guide ?
Human Robot

Robots for elderly in

Jobs for robots
TOKYO (Reuters) - Robots could fill the jobs of
3.5 million people in graying Japan by 2025,
a thinktank says, helping to avert worker
shortages as the country's population shrinks.
Robots to fill jobs in Japan
Japan faces a 16 percent slide in the size of its
workforce by 2030 while the number of
elderly will mushroom, the government
estimates, raising worries about who will do
the work in a country unused to, and unwilling
to contemplate, large-scale immigration.
HR-Interaction in Japan
The thinktank, the Machine Industry
Memorial Foundation, says robots could help
fill the gaps, ranging from microsized capsules
that detect lesions to high-tech vacuum

Robots to fill jobs in Japan
HR-Interaction in Japan
Rather than each robot replacing one person,
the foundation said in a report that robots
could make time for people to focus on more
important things.

Robots to fill jobs in Japan
What is more important than work?
What kind of more important things?

This is an ethical question.
using robots that monitor the health of
older people in Japan
Japan could save 2.1 trillion yen ($21 billion) of
elderly insurance payments in 2025 by using
robots that monitor the health of older
people, so they don't have to rely on human
nursing care, the foundation said in its report.
Plans for robot nursing in Japan
What are the consequences for relying on
robot nursing?

This is an ethical question.
Assistive Robots
Caregivers would save more than an hour a
day if robots:
1. helped look after children,
2. helped older people,
3. did some housework
4. reading books out loud
5. helping bathe the elderly

How children and elderly will respond?
1. How will children and elderly react to robots
taking care of them?
2. This is an ethical question.
Seniors in Japan
"Seniors are pushing back their retirement until
they are 65 years old,
day care centers are being built so that more
women can work during the day,
and there is a move to increase the quota of
foreign laborers.
But none of these can beat the shrinking
said Takao Kobayashi, who worked on the
HR-Interaction in Japan
"Robots are important because they could help
in some ways to alleviate such shortage of the
labor force."

Seniors in Japan
HR-Interaction in Japan
How far will they alleviate such shortage of
the labor force?

And with what consequences?

This is an ethical question.
Seniors in Japan
HR-Interaction in Japan
Kobayashi said changes was still needed for robots to
make a big impact on the workforce.
"There's the expensive price tag, the functions of the
robots still need to improve, and then there are the
mindsets of people," he said.
"People need to have the will to use the robots."
Seniors in Japan
HR-Interaction in Japan
The mindsets of people: This is THE
ethical question!
Seniors in Japan
First robots in Entertainment
Neologism derived from Czech noun
"robota" meaning "labor"
Contrary to the popular opinion, not
originated by (but first popularized by)
Karel Capek, the author of RUR
Originated by Josef Capek, Karels older
brother (a painter and writer)
Robot first appeared in Karel Capeks
play RUR, published in 1920
Some claim that "robot" was first used in
Josef Capek's short story Opilec (the
Drunkard) published in the collection Lelio
in 1917, but the word used in Opilec is
Robots revolt against their human masters
a cautionary lesson now as then

Many taxonomies
Control taxonomy
Pre-programmed (automatons)
Remotely-controlled (telerobots)
Supervised autonomous
Operational medium taxonomy
Functional taxonomy

Sony: Aibo


Love robots in Japan

EMA (Eternal Maiden Actualization) in Japan

What kind of
intelligence and
morality you
would expect
from an ideal
robot for
Why Ethics
of Robots?
Why Ethics of Robots?
1. Robots behave according to rules we program

2. We are responsible for their behavior

3. But as they are autonomous they can
decide what to do or not in a specific

4. This is the human/robot moral dilemma
Ethics of Robots: West and East
Rougly speaking:
1. Europe: Deontology (Autonomy, Human Dignity,
Privacy, Anthropocentrism): Scepticism with regard
to robots
2. USA (and anglo-saxon tradition): Utilitarian Ethics:
will robots make us more happy?
3. Eastern Tradition (Buddhism): Robots as one more
partner in the global interaction of things
Ethics & Robots: West and East
Morality and Ethics:
1. Ethics as critical reflection (or problematization)
of morality
2. Ethics is the science of morals as robotics is the
science of robots

Concrete moral traditions
Different ontic or concrete historical moral
traditions, for instance
1. in Japan:
1. Seken (trad. Japanese morality),
2. Shakai (imported Western morality)
3. Ikai (old animistic tradition)
2. In the Far West:
1. Ethics of the Good (Plato, Aristotle),
2. Christian Ethics,
3. Utilitarian Ethics,
4. Deontological Ethics (Kant)
Ethics & Robots: Ontological Dimensions
Ontological dimension: Being or (Buddhist)
Nothingness as the space of open possibilities that allow
us to critizise ontic moralities

Always related to basic moods (like sadness,
happiness, astonishment, )
through which the uniqueness of the world and human
existence is experienced (differently in different cultures)
Asimos evolution

Asimos evolution
If the robot looks like a human,
do we have different
Would you kill a robot car?
Would you kill a robot insect
that would react by squeaky
noises and escape in panic?
Would you kill a robot biped
that would react by begging you
to save his life?
Why Ethics
of Robots?
Why Ethics of Robots?
Ethics is thinking about human rules of
good/bad behavior:
1. Towards each other
2. Towards non-human living beings
3. Towards the environment
4. Towards artificial products
5. Towards other societies or nations
6. Towards the God or gods, culture-depending
AA versus AC versus
AE versus AI?

Artificial Agency (AA)
Artificial Consciousness (AC)
Artificial Ethics (AE)
Artificial Intelligence

our interaction with them;

and our ethical relation to them.
Artificial X

One kind of definition-schema:

Creating machines which perform in ways which
require X when humans perform in those ways
(or which justify the attribution of X?)

Outward performance, versus psychological
reality within?
X= Intelligence, = Life, =
Morality, etc.
Artificial Consciousness

Artificial Consciousness (AC):
creating machines which perform in ways which
require consciousness when humans perform in
those ways (?)

Where is the psychological reality of
consciousness in this?
functional versus phenomenal consciousness?
Shallow and deep AC research

Shallow AC developing functional replications of
consciousness in artificial agents

Without any claim to inherent psychological reality

Deep AC developing psychologically real
(phenomenal) consciousness
Continuum or divide?

Continuum or divide? (discrete or analog?)

Is deep AC realizable using current computationally-based
technologies (or does it require biological replications)?
Will it require Quantum Computing or biology-like

Thin versus thick phenomenality

(See S.Torrance Two Concepts of Machine Phenomenality,
(to be submitted, JCS)
Real versus simulated AC -
an ethically significant boundary?
1. Psychologically real versus just simulated artificial consciousness

-> This appears to mark an ethically significant boundary

(perhaps unlike the comparable boundary in AI?)

Not to deny that debates like the Chinese Room have aroused strong
passions over many years

Working in the area of AC
(unlike working in AI?)

puts special ethical responsibilities on shoulders of researchers
This takes us into the area of techno-ethics

Reflection on the ethical responsibilities of those who are involved in technological R &
(including the technologies of artificial agents (AI, robotics, MC, etc.))

Broadly, techno-ethics can be defined as:
Reflection on how we, as developers and users of technologies,
ought to use such technologies to best meet
our existing ethical ends,
within existing ethical frameworks

Much of the ethics of artificial agent research comes
under the general techno-ethics umbrella
From techno-ethics to
artificial ethics
Whats special about the artificial agent research is that
the artificial agents so produced may count (in various
senses) as ethical agents in their own right
This may involve a revision of our existing ethical conceptions
in various ways
Particularly when we are engaged in research in
(progressively deeper) artificial consciousness

Bearing this in mind, we need to distinguish between
techno-ethics and artificial ethics
(The latter may overlap with the former)
Techno-ethics our
responsibility for our
Artificial ethics what
ethics we will put to
future robots
Towards artificial ethics (AE)

A key puzzle in AE
Perhaps ethical reality (or real ethical status) goes
together with psychological reality??
Can a robot be ethical if
he is not psychologically
similar to you?
Shallow and deep AE
Shallow AE
1. Developing ways in which the artificial agents we produce can conform to,
simulate, the ethical constraints we believe desirable
2. (Perhaps a sub-field of techno-ethics?)

Deep AE
Creating beings with inherent ethical status?

Rights of robots, rights of human owners of robots?

Responsibilities of robots, responsibilities of humans towards robots?

The boundaries between shallow and deep AE may be perceived as fuzzy
And may be intrinsically fuzzy
You do not want your
robot to hurt humans
(or other robots?)
Proliferation of new technologies in
the world

A reason for taking this issue seriously:

AA, AC, etc. as potential mass-technologies

Tendency for successful technologies to proliferate across
the globe

What if AC becomes a widely adopted technology?

This should raise questions both:
of a techno-ethical kind;
and of a kind specific to AE
1. Every body would like
to have a robot slave.

2. Every educated/rich
roman had a slave
3. Every professor in 19
century had a maid.
Instrumental versus intrinsic stance

Normally we take our technologies as our tools or instruments

Instrumental/intrinsic division in relation to psychological reality of

As we progress towards deep AC there could be a blurring of the
boundaries between the two

(already seen in a small way with emerging caring attitudes of humans
towards people-friendly robots)

This is one illustration of the move from conventional techno-ethics and
artificial ethics
Instrumental robot is
just a device
Intrinsic if an old lady has a robot that
she loves, her children cannot just throw
the old robot to the garbage can.
Artificial Ethics (AE)

AE could be defined as
The activity of creating systems which perform in ways which
imply (or confer) the possession of ethical status when humans
perform in those ways. (?)

The emphasis on performance could be questioned

What is the relation between AE and Artificial
Consciousness (AC)?

What is ethical (moral) status?
Two key elements
of moral status of
a robot

( Totality of moral agents )
1. Can robot harm community?
2. Can community harm the robot?

( Totality of moral agents )
( one moral agent )
X is a
member of
Two key elements of Xs moral
status (in the eyes of Y)

(a) Xs being the recipient or target of moral
concern by Y (moral consumption) [Y X]

(b) Xs being the source of moral concern
towards Y (moral production) [X Y]
Ethical status in the absence of

1. Trying to refine our conception on the relation
between AC and AE
2. What difference does consciousness make to
artificial agency?
3. In order to shed light on this question we need
to investigate

the putative ethical status of artificial agents (AAs)
when (psychologically real) consciousness is
acknowledged to be ABSENT.
Retired general has a superintelligent robot that does not look like a
human and is not psychologically humanoid. Can he dismantle the
robot to pieces for fun? Can he shoot at him as he paid for it?
Our ethical interaction with non-
conscious artificial agents

?? Could non-conscious artificial agents have
genuine moral status

(a) As moral consumers?
(having moral claims on us)

(b) As moral producers?
(having moral responsibilities towards us (and
The dog or horse
that kills a human
is ordered by the
law to be killed
The robot that
kills a human is
A Strong View of AE

Psychologically real consciousness is necessary
for AAs to be considered BOTH
(a)as genuine moral consumers
(b) as genuine moral producers
AND there are strong constraints on what
counts as psychologically real consciousness.

So, on the strong view, non-conscious AAs will
have no real ethical status
The MIT strong AI researchers will
be now in trouble, explain why?
One way to weaken the strong view:
by accepting weaker criteria for what counts as
psychologically real consciousness

e.g. by saying Of course you need consciousness
for ethical status, but soon robots, etc. will be
conscious in a psychologically real sense.
A weaker view of AE

Psychologically real consciousness is NOT
necessary for an Artificial Agent (AA) to be
(a) as a genuine moral producer
(i.e. as having genuine moral responsibilities)

But it may be necessary for an AA to be considered
(b) as a genuine moral consumer
(i.e. as having genuine moral claims on the moral community)
A version of the weaker view
A version of the weaker view is to be found in:
1. Floridi, L. and Sanders, J. 2004. On the Morality of Artificial
Agents, Minds and Machines , 14(3): 349-379.

Floridi & Sanders: Some (quite weak * kinds of) artificial agents
may be considered as having a genuine kind of moral
even if not moral responsibility in a full-blooded sense

* ( i.e. this kind of moral status may attach to such agents
quite independently of their status as conscious agents)
Examining the strong view

See Steve Torrance, Ethics and Consciousness in Artificial
Agents, Artificial Intelligence and Society

Being a fully morally responsible agent requires
1. empathetic intelligence or rationality;
2. moral emotions or sensibilities

These seem to require presence of psychologically real


Shallow artificial ethics: a paradox


Even if not conscious, we will expect artificial agents to
behave responsibly
To perform outwardly to ethical standards of conduct

This creates an urgent and very challenging
programme of research for now

developing appropriate shallow ethical simulations
1. How you can make a robot responsible for its actions if he has
no real morality.
2. If he has real morality you cannot kill him.
Who is responsible: robot or the
Locus of responsibility

Where would the locus of responsibility of such systems lie?

For example, when they break down, give wrong advice, etc?

On current consensus: With designers, operators rather than with
AA itself.

If only with human designers/users, then such moral AAs dont
seem to have genuine moral status even as moral producers?

BUT 1. Is Alan responsible if his robot will insult the US
President during a visit?
2. Is the robot responsible?
3. Is PSU responsible?
4. Perkowski?
Moral implications of increasing
cognitive superiority of AAs
Well communicate with artificial agents (AAs) in
richer and subtler ways
We may look to AAs for moral advice and support
We may defer to their normative decisions
E.g when multiplicity of factors require superior cognitive
powers to humans
Automated moral pilot systems?
Busy parents
professionals will rely
on a robot to give
moral advice to their
Whom to blame for
bad behavior of
What if the child will
love robot more than
the Mommie?
Roman children
loved often their
Greek slave teachers
more than parents.
Non-conscious AAs as
moral producers

None of these properties seem to require
So the strong view seems to be in doubt?
Perhaps non-conscious AAs can be genuine moral

The question of When can we trust a moral judgment
given by a machine?
See answer in: Blay Whitby, Computing Machinery and
Morality submitted, AI and Society
Killing a slave or
low-class people in
the past

So non-conscious artificial agents perhaps
could be genuine moral producers

At least in limited sorts of ways
In contrast, in a paper Ethics and
Consciousness in Artificial Agents the author believes:

Having the capacity for genuine morally
responsible judgment and action require a kind of
empathic rationality

And its difficult to see how such empathic rationality
could exist in a being which didnt have psychologically
real consciousness
In any case, it will be a hard and complex
job to ensure that
the robots designed for morality
will simulate moral production
in an ethically acceptable way.
AAs as
Non-conscious AAs as
moral consumers

What about non-conscious AAs as moral
(i.e. as candidates for our moral concern)?
Our moral responsibility for a robot?

Could it ever be rational for us to consider
ourselves as having genuine moral obligations
towards non-conscious AAs?
Consciousness and
moral consumption

At first sight being a true moral
consumer seems to require being
able to consciously experience pain,
distress, need, satisfaction, joy,
sorrow, etc.

i.e. psychologically real consciousness

Otherwise why waste resources?
Can we dispose robots at our will when convenient?

Example of our responsibility for a robot:
The case of property ownership

AAs may come to have interests which we
may be legally (and morally?) obliged to

Andrew Martin he is a robot in Bicentennial
Andre acquires (through courts) legal entitlement
to own property in his own person
Bicentennial Man
Bicentennial Man

Household android is
acquired by Martin family
christened Andrew
His decorative products

exquisitely crafted from

become highly prized
collectors' items

Bicentennial Man (cont)
Andrew, arguably, has legal
rights to his property;
It would be morally wrong for us not to
respect them (e.g. to steal from him)
His rights to maintain his property
(and our obligation not infringe those rights)
does not depend on our attributing
consciousness to him
Bicentennial Man (cont)
A case of robot moral
(not just legal) rights?

Andrew, arguably, has moral, not just legal
rights to his property;

Would it not be morally wrong for us not
to respect his legal rights?
(morally wrong, e.g., to steal from him?)
Bicentennial Man (cont)
Does it matter if he is non-conscious?

Arguably, Andrews moral rights to
maintain his property

(and our moral obligation to not infringe those

do not depend on our attributing
consciousness to him
Bicentennial Man (cont)
On the legal status of artificial agents, see

David Calverley, Imagining a Non-Biological Machine
as a Legal Person,
Submitted, Artificial Intelligence and Society

For further related discussion of Asimovs
Bicentennial Man, see

Susan Leigh Anderson, Asimovs Three Laws of
Robotics and Machine Metaethics

Bicentennial Man (cont)
Can developing
Robots affect the
whole human
civilization and
fate of the
Universe ?
Hugo De Garis
The question is not if we will design
intelligent robots, the questions is if we
should design gods who will supersede
our intelligence and consciousness.

Artilects, Artilect wars?
First order impacts: linear
extrapolation faster, better,
Second and third order
impacts: non-linear, more
difficult to forecast
Analogy: The automobile
in 1909
Faster, better, cheaper
than horse and buggy
(but initially does not
completely surpass
previous technology)
Then industrial changes:
rise of automotive
industry, oil industry,
road & bridge
construction, etc.

Having no intelligence and
consciousness, our life affected
morally and intellectually by new
technology development like cars
or TV or computers.
Influence of cars on our lives!
Then cars affected
social changes:
rise of suburbs,
family structure
(teenage drivers,
increasing wealth
and personal
Then cars affected
oil cartels,
foreign policy,
religious and tribal
and global

1. We need to distinguish between shallow and deep AC and AE

2. We need to distinguish techno-ethics from artificial ethics
(especially strong AE)

3. There seems to be a link between an artificial agents status
as a conscious being and its status as an ethical being

4. A strong view of AC says that genuine ethical status in
artificial agents (both as ethical consumers and ethical
producers) requires psychologically real consciousness in such
5. Questions can be raised about the strong view -
(automated ethical advisors; property ownership)

6. There are many important ways in which a kind of
(shallow) ethics has to be developed for present day
and future non-conscious agents.

7. But in an ultimate, deep sense, perhaps AC and AE go
together closely

(see paper Ethics and Consciousness in Artificial Agents
for defense of the strong view much more robustly, as the
organic view.)

Sources of slides
Robert Finkelstein
Steve Torrance, Middlesex University, UK

Steinbeis Transfer Institut Information Ethics (STI-IE)

University of Tsukuba, Japan

September 30, 2009

This is an expanded version of a talk given at a
conference of the ETHICBOTS project in
Naples, Oct 17-18, 2006.

See S. Torrance; The Ethical Status of Artificial Agents With and
Without Consciousness (extended abstract), in G. Tamburrin and E.
Datteri (eds) Ethics of Human Interaction with Robotic, Bionic and AI
Systems: Concepts and Policies, Napoli: Istituto Italiano per gli Studi
Filosofici, 2006.
See also S. Torrance, Ethics and Consciousness in Artificial
Agents, submitted to Artificial Intelligence and Society