“Can a machine be a genuine cause of harm? The obvious answer is affirmative. The toaster that flames up and burns down a house is said to be the cause of the fire, and in some weak sense, we might even say that the toaster was responsible for it; but the toaster is broken or defective, not immoral and irresponsible, though possibly the engineer who designed it is. But what about machines that decide things before they act, that determine their own course of action? Somewhere between digital thermostats and the murderous HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey, autonomous machines are quickly gaining in complexity, and most certainly a day is coming when we will want to blame them for genuinely causing harm, even if philosophical issues concerning their moral status have not been fully settled. When will that be?”
-Anthony F. Beavers, Ph.D., in Review of Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong by Wendall Wallach and Colin Allen. Read more here.
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