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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Peter Asaro And The Terminator

H+ sat down with robot genius philosopher Peter Asaro:

I think we are now starting to see robots that are capable of taking morally significant actions, and we're beginning to see the design of systems that choose these actions based on moral reasoning. In this sense, they are moral, but not really autonomous because they are not coming up with the morality themselves... or for themselves.

They are a long way from being Kantian moral agents –- like some humans –- who are asserting and engaging their moral autonomy through their moral deliberations and choices. [Philosopher Immanuel Kant's “categorical imperative” is the standard of rationality from which moral requirements are derived.]

We might be able to design robotic soldiers that could be more ethical than human soldiers.

Robots might be better at distinguishing civilians from combatants; or at choosing targets with lower risk of collateral damage, or understanding the implications of their actions. Or they might even be programmed with cultural or linguistic knowledge that is impractical to train every human soldier to understand.
-- Can "Terminators" Actually be our Salvation?

Peter is my pledgefather and just one of the most insanely smartest people I've ever known. Last I saw him he was secretly wondering how to apply military AI software to video games, but I'm pretty certain he's contractually obligated to try and rule the world with giant robots now. Congrats Pete, great article.

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