Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?

I found a very thought-provoking article at Aeon.co that begins by describing how an artificially intelligent player called AlphaGo was able to defeat an expert human player at the game of Go (see AlphaGo AI Defeats Go champion Lee Sedol). AlphaGo won one match with an extremely unorthodox move that humans had never dreamed of.

But the article goes further to speculate on how we might cultivate morality in robots and artificial intelligences.

Philosophers and computer scientists alike tend to focus on the difficulty of implementing subtle human morality in literal-minded machines. But there’s another problem, one that really ought to come first. It’s the question of whether we ought to try to impose our own morality on intelligent machines at all. In fact, I’d argue that doing so is likely to be counterproductive, and even unethical. The real problem of robot morality is not the robots, but us. Can we handle sharing the world with a new type of moral creature?

...The farther they stray from recognisable human norms, the harder it will be for us to know that they are doing the right thing, and the more incomprehensible it will seem. We won’t permit them to become too much better than us, because we won’t permit them to become too different from us.

(From Raising Good Robots)

Science fiction writers have also speculated on how to raise robots and artificial intelligences. In his 1958 short story Brother Robot, Henry Slesar speculates on raising a robot right alongside his own son:

This is a day twice-blessed for me. Today, at St. Luke's hospital, our first child was born to my wife, Ila... when I saw her this morning, I could not bring myself to mention the second birth that has taken place in my laboratory. The birth of Machine, my robot child...

It is exhilarating to see my dream transformed into reality: a robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family, raised like a human child, a brother to a human child - growing, learning, becoming an adult. I can hardly contain my excitement at the possibilities I foresee.
(Read more about baby robot)

In his 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wonders how you might befriend and influence the growth of an artificial intelligence named Mike.

SF great Philip K. Dick runs to darker speculations about machine evolution in his 1953 story Second Variety.

Another fascinating example is the Hangman, a robot imagined by science fiction author Roger Zelazny. In the story, four researchers "raise" a robot by remote controlling the robot, while the robot "watches". When the team accidentally kills someone, the robot is given an immediate experience of the human revulsion at the act of murder, and the sense of moral culpability that the act invokes.

I'm sure readers have their own examples.

I think that this is a particularly interesting topic, given the now standard method of letting computers learn from hundreds or millions of human experiences.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/8/2017)

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