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The ethics of robot servitude
 

The ethics of robot servitude

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Recent version of my "robot servitude" talk. More readable if you pay attention to the slide titles (in blue) and outline (at the very top).

Recent version of my "robot servitude" talk. More readable if you pay attention to the slide titles (in blue) and outline (at the very top).

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    The ethics of robot servitude The ethics of robot servitude Presentation Transcript

    • Engineered robot servitude The objection Underview The Ethics of Robot Servitude Stephen Petersen steve@stevepetersen.net Department of Philosophy Niagara University Canisius College 16 April 2007 Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude The objection Underview Outline Engineered robot servitude 1 The question My answer Motivation for the view The objection 2 Engineered human servitude Kant and EHS Aristotle and EHS Mill and EHS Underview 3 Caveats and disclaimers Summary Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude The question The objection My answer Underview Motivation The question Suppose we could build creatures with intelligence comparable to our own who by design want to do tasks that we find unpleasant. May we? Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude The question The objection My answer Underview Motivation The question’s significance This question is natural, engaging, neglected, and important. Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude The question The objection My answer Underview Motivation My answer I say yes, it’s permissible to build robot servants. Contrary to the literature And contrary to my expectations I do not mean to defend: robot volunteers robot slavery “post-identity” modification Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude The question The objection My answer Underview Motivation Thesis Instead, I defend the permissibility of Engineered Robot Servitude (ERS). ERS The building and employment of non-human persons who desire, by design, to do tasks humans sometimes find unpleasant or inconvenient. Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude The question The objection My answer Underview Motivation Motivation for the view An emerging consensus on intelligence: Intelligence Roughly, a level of adaptability in attaining goals. The hardwired goals could be (almost) anything Compare retriever dogs Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS The objection If ERS is permissible, then it seems so should be Engineered Human Servitude (EHS): EHS The engineering and employment of human persons who desire, by design, to do tasks (typical) humans sometimes find unpleasant or inconvenient. Compare the “delta” caste in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Engineered human servitude It turns out hard to say why EHS is wrong. For a variety of plausible explanations, I’ll argue that either it fails to explain the wrongness of EHS, or it’s disanalogous with ERS. Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Kantian ethics in one slide Argues for a categorical imperative “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature” “So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.” Act autonomously (“reason must regard itself as the author of its principles independently of alien influences”) Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS A dilemma for Kantians Does the creature in question have potential for autonomy, or not? If no, what’s the problem? If yes, what’s the problem? Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Our treatment of the non-autonomous “EHS desensitizes us” Servile robots cannot have autonomy, but “He who is cruel to [robots] becomes hard also in his dealings with men.” But . . . Is it cruel to have a laundrybot launder? Or a retriever fetch? More likely to confuse EHS with people than ERS with people Does not explain EHS wrongness, and maybe disanalogous with ERS Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Autonomous robots “EHS uses people as mere means” But must be used as mere means Permissible inclinations A “poor autonomy”: for later Does not explain EHS wrongness Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Aristotelian ethics in one slide “. . . just as the good . . . for a flautist, a sculptor, and . . . in general, for whatever has a function . . . seems to depend on its function, the same seems to be true for a human being, if a human being has some function.” “Virtues . . . we acquire just as we acquire crafts . . . we become harpists by playing the harp. Similarly, then, we become just by doing just actions, temperate by doing temperate actions, brave by doing brave actions . . . ” Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Aristotelian teleology “EHS violates teleology” Underwrites the “it’s unnatural” intuition Design has given humans a determinate well-functioning Explains EHS wrongness, but disanalogous with ERS Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Aristotelian virtues “Engineering humans is not virtuous behavior” Suspiciously ad hoc Does not explain EHS wrongness Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Mill in one slide “. . . actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.” Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS The heart of the matter “EHS substitutes lower pleasures for higher” A fool satisfied in place of a Socrates dissatisfied The heart of the matter Captures Aristotelian and Kantian worries too Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Population ethics But substituting is tricky here . . . Same-person substitution not at issue If different-person, requires “same-number” cases Is merely adding a “fool satisfied” okay? Implies genetic enhancement obligatory Disanalogous (same-number case) or fails to explain (different-number case) Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Partial interests “EHS violates partial interests” Perhaps EHS harms not the creature, but those with partial interest in the creature (e.g. parents) Compatible with the person-affecting restriction PAR One can only compare well-being across two different circumstances by comparing the situations of particular people who are in both. Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered human servitude Engineered robot servitude Kant and EHS The objection Aristotle and EHS Underview Mill and EHS Partial interests But . . . Robots don’t have such parents Does not explain what’s wrong with Brave New World vat cases Disanalogous (parents) or fails to explain (vats) Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude Caveats The objection Summary Underview Caveats and disclaimers Such robots are of course still worthy of ethical respect Property a sticky question The line of ethical significance (a hunch) Rationalization a danger Err on the ethically safe side Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude
    • Engineered robot servitude Caveats The objection Summary Underview Summary Permissible engineered robot servitude has prima facie plausibility Engineered human servitude is not obviously wrong or analogous The philosophical crux is in population ethics Steve Petersen The Ethics of Robot Servitude