Machine ethics researches the morality of semiautonomous and autonomous machines. In the year 2013, the School of Business at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW realized a project for implementation of a prototype called GOODBOT, 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. It was a stand-alone solution, not linked with other systems and not internet- or web-based. In the LIEBOT project, the mentioned meta rule was reversed. This web-based chatbot, implemented in 2016, could lie systematically. It was an example of a simple immoral machine. A follow-up project in 2018 is going to develop the BESTBOT, considering the restrictions of the GOODBOT and the opportunities of the LIEBOT. The aim is to develop a machine that can detect problems of users of all kinds and can react in an adequate way. It should have textual, auditory and visual capabilities.
Fig.: The GOODBOT
AAAI announced the launch of the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society, to be co-located with AAAI-18, February 2-3, 2018 in New Orleans. The Call for Papers is available at http://www.aies-conference.com. October 31 is the deadline for submissions. „As AI is becoming more pervasive in our life, its impact on society is more significant and concerns and issues are raised regarding aspects such as value alignment, data bias and data policy, regulations, and workforce displacement. Only a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder effort can find the best ways to address these concerns, including experts of various disciplines, such as AI, computer science, ethics, philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, law, history, and politics.“ (AAAI information) The new conference complements and expands the classical AAAI Spring Symposia at Stanford University (including symposia like „AI for Social Good“ in 2017 or „AI and Society: Ethics, Safety and Trustworthiness in Intelligent Agents“ in 2018).
Fig.: AI and ethics could help society
PlayGround is a Spanish online magazine, founded in 2008, with a focus on culture, future and food. Astrid Otal asked the ethicist Oliver Bendel about the conference in London („Love and Sex with Robots“) and in general about sex robots and love dolls. One issue was: „In love, a person can suffer. But in this case, can robots make us suffer sentimentally?“ The reply to it: „Of course, they can make us suffer. By means of their body, body parts and limbs, and by means of their language capabilities. They can hurt us, they can kill us. They can offend us by using certain words and by telling the truth or the untruth. In my contribution for the conference proceedings, I ask this question: It is possible to be unfaithful to the human love partner with a sex robot, and can a man or a woman be jealous because of the robot’s other love affairs? We can imagine how suffering can emerge in this context … But robots can also make us happy. Some years ago, we developed the GOODBOT, a chatbot which can detect problems of the user and escalate on several levels. On the highest level, it hands over an emergency number. It knows its limits.“ Some statements of the interview have been incorporated in the article „Última parada: después del sexo con autómatas, casarse con un Robot“ (February 11, 2017) which is available via www.playgroundmag.net/futuro/sexo-robots-matrimonio-legal-2050-realdolls_0_1918608121.html.
Fig.: What about the robot’s love affairs?
„Artificial intelligence (AI) raises a number of ethical and political challenges in the present and near term, with applications such as driverless cars and search engines and potential issues ranging from job disruption to privacy violations. Over a longer term, if AI becomes as or more intelligent than humans, other governance issues such as safety and control may increase in importance. What policy approaches make sense across different issues and timeframes?“ (Website European Parliament) These are the initial words of a description of the workshop „Robotics and Artificial Intelligence – Ethical Issues and Regulatory approach“, organised by the Policy Department of the European Parliament. The first part „will focus on basic ethical and policy questions raised by the development of robotics and AI on the basis of presentations by experts“ (Website European Parliament). According to the description, this will be followed by a discussion with national parliamentarians on what the legislator should do and on which level, with the European Parliament’s draft legislative initiative report on „Civil Law Rules on Robotics“ as a basis. Further information can be found on the European Parliament’s website (www.europarl.europa.eu).
Springer invites scientists to contribute to the Journal on Vehicle Routing Algorithms. Editors-in-chief are Christian Prins, Troyes University of Technology, France, and Marc Sevaux, University of South-Brittany, France. The publishing house declares that the new journal „is an excellent domain for testing new approaches in modeling, optimization, artificial intelligence, computational intelligence, and simulation“ (Mailing, 2 September 2016). „Articles published in the Journal on Vehicle Routing Algorithms will present solutions, methods, algorithms, case studies, or software, attracting the interest of academic and industrial researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.“ (Mailing, 2 September 2016) According to the website, a vehicle routing problem (VRP) „arises whenever a set of spatially disseminated locations must be visited by mobile objects to perform tasks“ (Website Springer). „The mobile objects may be motorized vehicles, pedestrians, drones, mobile sensors, or manufacturing robots; the space covered may range from silicon chips or PCBs to aircraft wings, warehouses, cities, or countries; and the applications include traditional domains, such as freight and passenger transportation, services, logistics, and manufacturing, and also modern issues such as autonomous cars and the Internet of Things (IoT), and the profound environmental and societal implications of achieving efficiencies in resources, power, labor, and time.“ (Website Springer) The moral decisions of cars, drones and vacuum cleaners can also be investigated. More information via www.springer.com.
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 liebot.org 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
„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 www.janalbrecht.eu/termine/merging-of-man-and-machines-questions-of-ethics-in-dealing-with-emerging-technology.html.
Fig.: Man or machine or both?
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 loveandsexwithrobots.org.
Fig.: Logo and mascot of the congress