Schlagworte: Machine Ethics

What can we ethically outsource to machines?

Prior to the hearing in the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany on 22 June 2016 from 4 – 6 pm, the contracted experts had sent their written comments on ethical and legal issues with respect to the use of robots and artificial intelligence. The video for the hearing can be accessed via The documents of Oliver Bendel (School of Business FHNW), Eric Hilgendorf (University of Würzburg), Norbert Elkman (Fraunhofer IPK) and Ryan Calo (University of Washington) were published in July on the website of the German Bundestag. Answering the question „Apart from legal questions, for example concerning responsibility and liability, where will ethical questions, in particular, also arise with regard to the use of artificial intelligence or as a result of the aggregation of information and algorithms?“ the US scientist explained: „Robots and artificial intelligence raise just as many ethical questions as legal ones. We might ask, for instance, what sorts of activities we can ethically outsource to machines. Does Germany want to be a society that relegates the use of force, the education of children, or eldercare to robots? There are also serious challenges around the use of artificial intelligence to make material decisions about citizens in terms of minimizing bias and providing for transparency and accountability – issues already recognized to an extent by the EU Data Directive.“ (Website German Bundestag) All documents (most of them in German) are available via

The LIEBOT Whitepaper

Machine ethics researches the morality of semi-autonomous and autonomous machines. In 2013 and 2014, the School of Business at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW implemented a prototype of the GOODBOT, which is a novelty chatbot and a simple moral machine. One of its meta rules was it should not lie unless not lying would hurt the user. In a follow-up project in 2016 the LIEBOT (aka LÜGENBOT) was developed, as an example of a Munchausen machine. The student Kevin Schwegler, supervised by Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel and Prof. Dr. Bradley Richards, used the Eclipse Scout framework. The whitepaper which was published on July 25, 2016 via outlines the background and the development of the LIEBOT. It describes – after a short introduction to the history and theory of lying and automatic lying (including the term of Munchausen machines) – the principles and pre-defined standards the bad bot will be able to consider. Then it is discussed how Munchausen machines as immoral machines can contribute to constructing and optimizing moral machines. After all the LIEBOT project is a substantial contribution to machine ethics as well as a critical review of electronic language-based systems and services, in particular of virtual assistants and chatbots.


Fig.: A role model for the LIEBOT

Machine Ethics and Law in Cracow

The call for papers for „Machine Ethics and Machine Law“ has been released. This international conference will take place in Cracow (Poland) from 18 to 19 November 2016. According to the announcement, the deadline for abstract submissions is 9 September 2016. The following information is provided on the website: „Artificial Intelligence systems have become an important part of our everyday lives. What used to be a subject of science fiction novels and movies has trespassed into the realm of facts. Many decision making processes are delegated to machines and these decisions have direct impact on humans and societies at large. This leads directly to the question: What are the ethical and legal limitations of those artificial agents? Issues such as liability, moral and legal responsibility (in different contexts: from autonomous cars to military drones) are coming into the forefront. It is clear that some constraints should be imposed; both the unintended and often unforeseen negative consequences of the technological progress, as well as speculative and frightening views of the future portrayed in the works of fiction, leave no doubt that there ought to be some guidelines. The problem is to work out these constraints in a reasonable manner so that machine can be a moral and legal agent, or else argue that it is impossible and why.“ (conference website) The conference is a follow-up of the AAAI Spring Symposium on „Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents“ which was held in March 2016 at Stanford University. Further information via


Fig.: Moral machines are also relevant in farming

Merging of Man and Machines

„Merging of man and machines: questions of ethics in dealing with emerging“ – this is the title of an event which takes place in the European Parliament, Brussels, on 8 September 2016, 9:30 – 13:00. The IEU monitoring newsletter DIGITAL AGENDA provides the following information: „The Working Group Green Robotics would like to invite you to a public hearing on ‚Merging of man and machines: questions of ethics in dealing with emerging technology‘. With this and further discussions we would like to develop a position on how society should respond to questions like How will our lives and our society change with the increasing fusion with modern technology? What role have politics and law in this context? Is there a need for regulation and if so, how? How can human rights be addressed?“ In the track „Ethics & Society: Examples of how our lives, values and society will change“ three experts will give talks, namely Yvonne Hofstetter (author and director of Teramark Technologies GmbH), Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel (author of „Die Moral in der Maschine“ and Professor at the School of Business FHNW) and Constanze Kurz (author and spokesperson Chaos Computer Club). The track „Politics & Law: Examples of how we do/can debate and regulate this field“ is maintained by Juho Heikkilä (DG Connect, Robotics, Head of Unit, tbc) and Prof. Dr. Dr. Eric Hilgendorf (Chairman of the Department of Criminal Law, Criminal Justice, Legal Theory, Information and Computer Science Law, University of Würzburg). Two other lecturers of the event are Enno Park (Chairman of Cyborgs e.V.) and Dana Lewis (founder and OpenAPS thinker). Further information via


Fig.: Man or machine or both?

From Teledildonics to Roboethics

The second international congress on „Love and Sex with Robots“ will be taking place in London, from 19 to 20 December 2016. Topics are robot emotions, humanoid robots, clone robots, entertainment robots, teledildonics, intelligent electronic sex hardware and roboethics. In the introduction it is said: „Within the fields of Human-Computer Interaction and Human-Robot Interaction, the past few years have witnessed a strong upsurge of interest in the more personal aspects of human relationships with these artificial partners. This upsurge has not only been apparent amongst the general public, as evidenced by an increase in coverage in the print media, TV documentaries and feature films, but also within the academic community.“ (Website LSR 2016) The congress „provides an excellent opportunity for academics and industry professionals to present and discuss their innovative work and ideas in an academic symposium“ (Website LSR 2016). According to the CfP, full papers should „be no more than 10 pages (excluding references) and extended abstracts should be no more than 3 pages (excluding references)“ (Website LSR 2016). More information via


Fig.: Logo and mascot of the congress

Contributions on Machine Ethics

The proceedings of the AAAI conference 2016 have been published in March 2016 („The 2016 AAAI Spring Symposium Series: Technical Reports“). The symposium „Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents“ was dedicated to the discipline of machine ethics. Ron Arkin (Georgia Institute of Technology), Luís Moniz Pereira (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Peter Asaro (New School for Public Engagement, New York) and Oliver Bendel (School of Business FHNW) spoke about moral and immoral machines. The contribution „Annotated Decision Trees for Simple Moral Machines“ (Oliver Bendel) can be found on the pages 195 – 201. In the abstract it is said: „Autonomization often follows after the automization on which it is based. More and more machines have to make decisions with moral implications. Machine ethics, which can be seen as an equivalent of human ethics, analyses the chances and limits of moral machines. So far, decision trees have not been commonly used for modelling moral machines. This article proposes an approach for creating annotated decision trees, and specifies their central components. The focus is on simple moral machines. The chances of such models are illustrated with the example of a self-driving car that is friendly to humans and animals. Finally the advantages and disadvantages are discussed and conclusions are drawn.“ The proceedings can be ordered via

The GOODBOT Project

„The GOODBOT project was realized in 2013/14 in the context of machine ethics. First the tutoring person (the author of this contribution) laid out some general considerations. Then a student practice project was tendered within the school. Three future business informatics scientists applied for the practice-related work, developed the prototype over several months in cooperation with the professor, and presented it early in 2014. The successor project LIEBOT started in 2016.“ These are the initial words of a new contribution in Germany’s oldest online magazine, Telepolis. The author, Oliver Bendel, presents the GOODBOT project which is a part of his research on machine ethics. „The GOODBOT responds more or less appropriately to morally charged statements, thereby it differs from the majority of chatbots. It recognizes problems as the designers anticipated certain emotive words users might enter. It rates precarious statements or questions and escalates on multiple levels. Provided the chat runs according to standard, it is just a standard chatbot, but under extreme conditions it turns into a simple moral machine.“ The article „The GOODBOT Project: A Chatbot as a Moral Machine“ was published on May 17, 2016 and can be opened via

A Robot in the Robot

NeXus, the magazine of the student projects connectUS, Focus India, Insight China and exploreASEAN (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW), interviewed the machine ethicist and business information systems engineer Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel. The first question Stephen Randes asked was: „Cars are an integral part of US culture and identity. How will self-driving cars be accepted in that market?“ The answer: „Some Americans will surely miss the fun of driving. However, there is a new kind of driving enjoyment. As everyone knows who has ever tried out the autopilot of the Tesla model S. Whether the social approval will be given remains to be seen. There are certainly reasons to reject autonomous cars in particular areas.“ The next question: „What about safety concerns? What happens if an accident cannot be avoided?“ The scientist’s answer: „This is a subject that we explore in machine ethics: whom shall the autonomous car kill if it cannot brake in time? You can teach it rules or feed it with cases, and make it a complex moral machine that decides on people’s life and death. I, personally, argue in favor of simple moral machines. I am not against robot cars – I advise not to let them drive at any place and at any time. It is a question of avoiding accidents if possible.“ The last question related again to the market and the development of mobility: „Market analysts expect 10 million self-driving cars on the roads by 2020. How do you think this will change mobility (individual transport, public transport, workplace commutes)?“ Oliver Bendel declared: „I see opportunities for public transport. In the Valais, PostAuto is testing autonomous shuttles. Their speed is very low, so that there can be hardly any damage. Private autonomous cars are well suited for the traffic between cities. New forms of car sharing are possible as well. Maybe one day self-driving cars might even be sent to fetch a pizza, which, however, implies that there is a robot in the robot – except the pizza is simply thrown into the car.“ A part of the interview was published in the April issue, including further information on the person and the motivation.


Fig.: This robot could take the pizza

Buch „Programming Machine Ethics“

Luís Moniz Pereira und Ari Saptawijaya haben ein Buch geschrieben, das den Titel „Programming Machine Ethics“ trägt. Die relativ junge Disziplin der Maschinenethik wird damit um ein weiteres Grundlagenwerk bereichert. Als Gestaltungsdisziplin ist sie darauf angewiesen, dass konkrete Vorschläge für die Umsetzung unterbreitet werden, in ihrem Falle der Umsetzung moralischer Maschinen. In der Information von Springer heißt es: „This book addresses the fundamentals of machine ethics. It discusses abilities required for ethical machine reasoning and the programming features that enable them. It connects ethics, psychological ethical processes, and machine implemented procedures. From a technical point of view, the book uses logic programming and evolutionary game theory to model and link the individual and collective moral realms. It also reports on the results of experiments performed using several model implementations.“ (Information Springer) Weiter wird erklärt: „Opening specific and promising inroads into the terra incognita of machine ethics, the authors define here new tools and describe a variety of program-tested moral applications and implemented systems. In addition, they provide alternative readings paths, allowing readers to best focus on their specific interests and to explore the concepts at different levels of detail.“ (Information Springer) Weitere Informationen und Bestellung über


Abb.: Grace Hopper aka Grandma COBOL

AAAI-Workshop zur Maschinenethik V

Am 23. März 2016 wurde der Workshop „Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents“ an der Stanford University innerhalb der AAAI Spring Symposium Series fortgeführt. Die Keynote „Programming Machine Ethics“ hielt Kumar Pandey von Aldebaran Robotics (SoftBank Group). Er war aus Krankheitsgründen über Skype zugeschaltet. Er stellte kommerzielle Produkte vor und zeigte Videos zu Pepper. Nicht nur Pepper stammt von dem französischen Unternehmen, sondern auch Nao. Beide sind darauf ausgelegt, mit Menschen zusammenzuleben. Das Feedback der Benutzer war ambivalent. Er sollte nicht oder nicht immer für mich entscheiden, lautete eine Meinung. Eine andere war: Er soll nicht das tun, was ich tun kann, damit ich nicht faul werde. Auch die Meinung der Teilnehmer war ambivalent, in Bezug auf die Visionen und die Videos. Der Referent selbst räumte ein, man spiele mit den Emotionen der Benutzer. Am Ende fragte er nach der Haftung und nach der Zertifizierung in moralischer Hinsicht und stellte die Behauptung auf, der Roboter sollte wissen, was er nicht tun darf, nicht lernen. Und er fragte, was sein wird, wenn der Roboter eines Tages einen Befehl verweigert. In der Panel Discussion arbeitete man die Erkenntnisse der letzten Tage auf, analysierte die Principles of Robotics der EPSRC aus dem Jahre 2011 und diskutierte Möglichkeiten für den weiteren Austausch.Salz_PfefferAbb.: Salt and Pepper