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Moral MachinesTeaching Robots Right from Wrong$
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Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195374049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195374049.001.0001

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(p.13) Chapter 1 WHY MACHINE MORALITY?
Moral Machines

Wendell Wallach

Colin Allen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Artificial moral agents are necessary and inevitable. Innovative technologies are converging on sophisticated systems that will require some capacity for moral decision making. With the implementation of driverless trains, the “trolley cases” invented by ethicists to study moral dilemmas may represent actual challenges for artificial moral agents. Among the difficult tasks for designers of such systems is to specify what the goals should be, i.e. what is meant by a “good” artificial moral agent? Computer viruses are among the software agents that already cause harm. Credit card approval systems are among the examples of autonomous systems that already affect daily life in ethically significant ways but are “ethically blind” because they lack moral decision‐making capacities. Pervasive and ubiquitous computing, the introduction of service robots in the home to care for the elderly, and the deployment of machine‐gun‐carrying military robots expand the possibilities of software and robots without sensitivity to ethical considerations harming people.

Keywords:   artificial moral agents, computer virus, military robot, moral decision making, pervasive computing, service robot, trolley cases, ubiquitous computing

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